Mastering the Art of using the French Verb “Expliquer”

Expliquer, meaning “to explain” in English, is a fundamental verb in the French language. Whether you’re learning or teaching French, having a good grasp of how to use this verb effectively will greatly enhance your communication skills. In this blog post, we will explore the various ways to use “expliquer” in different contexts.

  1. Direct Explanation:
    The most straightforward way to use “expliquer” is to provide a clear and concise explanation. Here are a few examples:
    • Je vais t’expliquer les règles du jeu. (I will explain the game’s rules to you.)
    • Il m’a expliqué comment résoudre ce problème mathématique. (He explained to me how to solve this math problem.)
  2. Explaining to Someone:
    When you need to explain something to a specific person, you can use the preposition “à” followed by the person’s name or pronoun. For instance:
    • J’ai expliqué la situation à mes parents. (I explained the situation to my parents.)
    • Elle m’a bien expliqué le fonctionnement de cette machine. (She explained to me how this machine works.)
  3. Clarifying or Elaborating:
    “Expliquer” can also be used to clarify or elaborate on a topic that has already been mentioned. This helps to ensure understanding and provide more details. Examples include:
    • Pourriez-vous m’expliquer en détail le plan que vous avez proposé? (Could you explain the plan you proposed in detail?)
    • Elle a expliqué la chanson et donné des exemples de ses paroles. (She explained the song and gave examples of its lyrics.)
  4. Explaining the Reason or Motive:
    To explain the reason behind an action or situation, the conjunction “pour” is commonly used with “expliquer.” Consider the following examples:
    • Je lui ai expliqué pourquoi j’étais en retard. (I explained to him/her why I was late.)
    • Il n’a pas pu venir, il m’a expliqué que sa voiture était en panne. (He couldn’t come; he explained to me that his car had broken down.)
  5. Expressing the Difficulty/Complexity:
    When emphasizing the difficulty or complexity of explaining something, the adverbs “difficilement” (difficultly) or “clairement” (clearly) can be added to “expliquer.” For instance:
    • J’ai difficilement pu lui expliquer le concept mathématique avancé. (I struggled to explain the advanced mathematical concept to him/her.)
    • Le professeur a clairement expliqué les règles de grammaire compliquées. (The teacher clearly explained the complicated grammar rules.)

Mastering the use of the French verb “expliquer” is essential for effective communication. From providing explanations to clarifying and elaborating on a topic, this verb allows us to express ourselves clearly and concisely. Whether you’re instructing, informing, or simply conversing, understanding and using “expliquer” correctly will undoubtedly enhance your French language skills. So, go ahead and start practicing to become an excellent explainer in French!