Explain vs. Expound

What's the Difference?

Explain and expound are both verbs that involve providing information or clarification on a topic. However, explain typically refers to giving a simple and straightforward account of something, while expound implies a more detailed and thorough explanation. When you explain something, you are breaking it down in a clear and concise manner, while when you expound on something, you are delving deeper into the subject and providing more in-depth analysis or commentary.


DefinitionMake (an idea, situation, or problem) clear to someone by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts or ideas.To explain in detail or provide information on a topic or subject.
DepthMay not go into as much detail as expounding on a topic.Usually involves going into greater depth and providing more comprehensive information.
ClarityFocuses on making something clear and understandable.Emphasizes providing a thorough and detailed explanation to ensure complete understanding.
ScopeCan be more concise and to the point.Often covers a broader scope and delves into various aspects of a topic.

Further Detail


Explain and expound are two verbs that are often used interchangeably, but they have subtle differences in meaning. To explain something is to make it clear or understandable by describing or giving reasons for it. On the other hand, to expound something is to present and explain a theory or idea systematically and in detail.


When it comes to clarity, explain tends to be more straightforward and concise. It is used to provide a clear and simple explanation of a concept or idea. Expound, on the other hand, implies a more thorough and detailed explanation. It is often used in academic or philosophical contexts where a deeper understanding is required.


Explain is typically used when a basic understanding of a topic is needed. It is used to clarify something that may be confusing or unclear. Expound, on the other hand, is used when a more in-depth analysis or discussion is required. It is used to delve deeper into a topic and provide a comprehensive explanation.


The context in which explain and expound are used can also differ. Explain is often used in everyday conversations or when providing instructions. It is used to simplify complex ideas or concepts for easier understanding. Expound, on the other hand, is more commonly used in academic or intellectual discussions where a detailed analysis is needed.


Here are some examples to illustrate the difference between explain and expound:

  • Explain: Can you explain how to solve this math problem?
  • Expound: The professor expounded on the theory of relativity for the entire lecture.


While explain and expound have distinct meanings, they can sometimes be used interchangeably depending on the context. However, it is important to consider the level of detail and depth required when choosing between the two. If a simple and clear explanation is needed, explain is the appropriate choice. If a more thorough and detailed analysis is required, expound would be more suitable.


In conclusion, explain and expound are two verbs that have subtle differences in meaning and usage. Explain is used for providing a clear and simple explanation, while expound is used for presenting a more detailed and systematic analysis. Understanding the nuances between these two words can help improve communication and ensure that the intended message is conveyed effectively.

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