Difference Between
versus

Describe vs. Explain: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 9, 2024
Describe involves detailing the characteristics of something, while explain involves providing reasons or causes for those characteristics.
Describe vs. Explain

Key Differences

Describe focuses on presenting observable details, like color, shape, or behavior, without delving into underlying reasons. Explain, in contrast, goes beyond surface details to clarify reasons, causes, or processes behind what is described.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
Describe is often used to provide a clear, detailed picture of a subject, event, or concept, primarily focusing on 'what' aspects. Explain aims to clarify understanding, addressing 'why' or 'how' something happens or exists, often answering questions or resolving confusion.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
In literature, describe is used to paint a vivid picture of scenes or characters, enhancing imagery and understanding. In scientific or educational contexts, explain is key to understanding complex theories or phenomena, linking facts with underlying principles.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
Describe generally provides information for the audience to visualize or understand a subject at a surface level. Explain engages the audience at a deeper level, fostering comprehension of the mechanisms or reasoning behind a subject or event.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
Effective description requires keen observation and vocabulary skills to detail aspects accurately and engagingly. Explaining effectively demands a deeper understanding of the subject, the ability to connect concepts, and articulate causes or processes clearly.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
ADVERTISEMENT

Comparison Chart

Focus

Characteristics and features
Causes, reasons, and processes
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Purpose

To create a clear, detailed image
To clarify understanding
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Key Question Addressed

"What does it look/feel/sound like?"
"Why does it happen? How does it work?"
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Usage Contexts

Literature, visual arts, daily communication
Educational, scientific, problem-solving
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Required Skills

Observational, descriptive
Analytical, interpretative
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024
ADVERTISEMENT

Describe and Explain Definitions

Describe

To convey an account or impression of something in words.
She described the sunset as a blend of orange and pink hues.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Explain

To interpret or translate complex information into simpler terms.
The guide explained the historical significance of the monument.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Describe

To detail the appearance or characteristics of something.
The report described the new species with precision.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Explain

To elucidate or clarify something that is not immediately obvious.
The manual explains how to assemble the furniture.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Describe

To represent or outline something verbally or in writing.
He described the plot of the movie to his friend.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023
ADVERTISEMENT

Explain

To make an idea or situation clear to someone by describing it in more detail.
The teacher explained the concept of photosynthesis to the class.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Describe

To give an account of in speech or writing
Describe a sea voyage.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To make plain or comprehensible.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To convey an idea or impression of; characterize
She described her childhood as a time of wonder and discovery.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To define; expound
We explained our plan to the committee.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To represent pictorially; depict
Goya's etchings describe the horrors of war in grotesque detail.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To offer reasons for or a cause of; justify
Explain an error.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To trace the form or outline of
Describe a circle with a compass.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To offer reasons for the actions, beliefs, or remarks of (oneself).
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

(transitive) To represent in words.
The feeling is difficult to describe, but not unpleasant.
The geographer describes countries and cities.
Several witnesses describe seeing lights in the sky that night.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To make something plain or comprehensible
Let me explain.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

(transitive) To represent by drawing; to draw a plan of; to delineate; to trace or mark out.
To describe a circle by the compasses;
A torch waved about the head in such a way as to describe a circle
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To make plain, manifest, or intelligible; to clear of obscurity; to illustrate the meaning of.
She is about to explain a chapter of the Bible to the Sunday School students.
She tried to explain but he wouldn’t listen.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To give rise to a geometrical structure.
The function describes a very complex surface.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To give a valid excuse for past behavior.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To introduce a new taxon to science by explaining its characteristics and particularly how it differs from other taxa.
The fungus was first described by a botanist.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

(obsolete) To make flat, smooth out.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

(obsolete) To distribute into parts, groups, or classes; to mark off; to class.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

(obsolete) To unfold or make visible.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To represent by drawing; to draw a plan of; to delineate; to trace or mark out; as, to describe a circle by the compasses; a torch waved about the head in such a way as to describe a circle.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

(intransitive) To make something plain or intelligible.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To represent by words written or spoken; to give an account of; to make known to others by words or signs; as, the geographer describes countries and cities.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To flatten; to spread out; to unfold; to expand.
The horse-chestnut is . . . ready to explain its leaf.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To distribute into parts, groups, or classes; to mark off; to class.
Passed through the land, and described it by cities into seven parts in a book.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To make plain, manifest, or intelligible; to clear of obscurity; to expound; to unfold and illustrate the meaning of; as, to explain a chapter of the Bible.
Commentators to explain the difficult passages to you.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To use the faculty of describing; to give a description; as, Milton describes with uncommon force and beauty.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To give an explanation.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

Give a description of;
He drew an elaborate plan of attack
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

Make palin and comprehensible;
He explained the laws of physics to his students
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

To give an account or representation of in words;
Discreet Italian police described it in a manner typically continental
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

Define;
The committe explained their plan for fund-raising to the Dean
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

Identify as in botany or biology, for example
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

Serve as a reason or cause or justification of;
Your need to sleep late does not excuse your late arrival at work
Her recent divorce amy explain her reluctance to date again
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Describe

Make a mark or lines on a surface;
Draw a line
Trace the outline of a figure in the sand
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 13, 2023

Explain

To provide reasons for or a cause of something.
The scientist explained the causes of climate change.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Describe

To specify or enumerate distinctive features.
The witness described the suspect to the police.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Explain

To justify or account for something.
She explained her late arrival due to traffic.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Describe

To create a vivid mental image through descriptive language.
The novel describes the landscapes of rural England beautifully.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Dec 18, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does describe mean?

To detail or outline characteristics or features of something.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Can describe and explain be used together?

Yes, often description is followed by explanation for complete understanding.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Are there situations where only explain is appropriate?

In scientific or educational settings, explanation is often key to understanding.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

What does explain mean?

To clarify, elucidate, or provide reasons for something.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Is describe more about observation or interpretation?

It's more about observation and detailing what is observed.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Do describe and explain require different skills?

Yes, describe requires observational skills, while explain requires analytical skills.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Is explain more subjective than describe?

Explain can be subjective, depending on the interpretation of the explainer.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Are there situations where only describe is appropriate?

In artistic contexts, pure description may be preferred to preserve ambiguity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

When should I use describe over explain?

Use describe for detailing appearance or characteristics, without needing to clarify causes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

When is it better to explain rather than describe?

When understanding of causes, reasons, or processes is required.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Is describing a creative process?

Yes, it often involves creative choice of words and imagery.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Can an explanation be effective without good description?

Effective explanations often include sufficient descriptive elements for clarity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Can I describe without explaining?

Yes, you can provide details without delving into underlying reasons.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

How do I improve my descriptive skills?

Practice observing details and using vivid, precise language.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Can a good description replace an explanation?

Not always, as description lacks the causal or procedural insight of an explanation.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Do describe and explain play a role in storytelling?

Yes, both are crucial in creating vivid narratives and understanding story elements.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Can I explain without describing?

Explanation often includes some level of description for clarity.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

How do I enhance my explanatory skills?

Develop a deeper understanding of subjects and practice clear, logical expression.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Which is more factual, describe or explain?

Describe tends to be more factual, focusing on observable details, while explain involves interpretation of facts.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Is explaining a logical process?

Yes, it requires logical thinking and linking concepts coherently.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jan 09, 2024

Share this page

Link for your blog / website
HTML
Link to share via messenger
About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

Poster vs. InfographicPoster vs. Infographic
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
A Poster is a large printed image or notice for public display, while an Infographic is a visual representation of information or data.
FPTP vs. PRFPTP vs. PR
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 16, 2024
FPTP (First Past the Post) is a simple plurality voting system where the candidate with most votes wins; PR (Proportional Representation) allocates seats based on the proportion of votes each party receives.
Japanese Eyes vs. Chinese EyesJapanese Eyes vs. Chinese Eyes
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
Japanese Eyes and Chinese Eyes refer to linguistic structures in Japanese and Chinese respectively, each reflecting unique aspects of grammar and syntax.
2 Pole Motors vs. 4 Pole Motors2 Pole Motors vs. 4 Pole Motors
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
2 Pole Motors have one pair of magnetic poles and run at higher speeds, while 4 Pole Motors have two pairs of poles and operate at lower speeds, offering higher torque.
Login vs. LogonLogin vs. Logon
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
"Login" and "Logon" are often used interchangeably to describe the process of gaining access to a computer system, but "login" can also refer to the credentials used for access.
Poem vs. PoetryPoem vs. Poetry
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
A poem is a piece of writing that expresses ideas and emotions with a distinctive style and rhythm; poetry is the art form of writing such pieces.
Nuclear Family vs. Joint FamilyNuclear Family vs. Joint Family
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
January 9, 2024
Nuclear Family is a family unit consisting of parents and their children. Joint Family is a larger family structure comprising parents, children, and other relatives living together.
Pulley vs. SheavePulley vs. Sheave
Hifza NasirHifza Nasir
April 4, 2024
A pulley is a wheel on an axle designed to support movement and change of direction of a taut cable, while a sheave is the wheel part of a pulley system that specifically interacts with the cable.
NM3 vs. M3NM3 vs. M3
Hifza NasirHifza Nasir
April 19, 2024
NM3 measures gas volume under Normal conditions (0°C and 1.01325 bar), while M3 measures volume under the conditions at which it is measured, without standard adjustment.
Pycharm Community vs. Pycharm ProPycharm Community vs. Pycharm Pro
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 4, 2024
PyCharm Community is a free, open-source IDE for Python development, while PyCharm Pro is a paid version with additional advanced features like web development support and database tools.
Vital Proteins Collagen vs. OrganikaVital Proteins Collagen vs. Organika
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 9, 2024
Vital Proteins Collagen is a brand offering collagen supplements for health and beauty, while Organika is a broader health and wellness brand with diverse products including collagen.
Catapult vs. TrebuchetCatapult vs. Trebuchet
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
January 4, 2024
A catapult is a ballistic device using tension or torsion to launch projectiles, while a trebuchet is a type of catapult using a counterweight for greater force and distance.
Slazenger Logo vs. Puma LogoSlazenger Logo vs. Puma Logo
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 15, 2024
The Slazenger logo features a panther, symbolizing agility and tradition, while the Puma logo depicts a leaping puma, representing speed and strength.
Data Roaming vs. Cellular DataData Roaming vs. Cellular Data
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
Data Roaming allows usage of mobile network services outside of the home network area, while Cellular Data is using mobile services within the home network.
Gorilla Glass 3 vs. Gorilla Glass 5Gorilla Glass 3 vs. Gorilla Glass 5
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
January 1, 2024
Gorilla Glass 3 offers improved scratch resistance and durability compared to its predecessors, while Gorilla Glass 5 focuses on enhanced drop protection and toughness.
DDR3 vs. DDR3LDDR3 vs. DDR3L
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
January 29, 2024
DDR3 is a type of RAM with standard voltage (1.5V), while DDR3L is a low voltage variant (1.35V) compatible with both 1.5V and 1.35V slots.
Fluid vs. LiquidFluid vs. Liquid
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 13, 2024
Fluids encompass all substances that flow (including gases and liquids), while liquids specifically refer to fluids with a definite volume but no fixed shape, adapting to their container.
Crane vs. HeronCrane vs. Heron
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
June 24, 2024
Cranes are large, long-legged and long-necked birds known for their elaborate dances, while herons are typically more solitary, stealth hunters with a distinctive S-shaped neck.
PPM vs. PPMVPPM vs. PPMV
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 10, 2024
PPM (parts per million) measures the concentration of one substance within a million parts of another. PPMV (parts per million by volume) expresses gas concentration as volume per million volumes of air.
NDM vs. FTPNDM vs. FTP
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 15, 2024
NDM (Network Data Mover) automates and secures data transfers across networks, while FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a standard network protocol for transferring files between computers.
5'11" vs. 6'0"5’11” vs. 6’0″
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
February 4, 2024
The difference between 5'11" and 6'0" is one inch, with 5'11" being 71 inches and 6'0" being 72 inches tall.
Pebble vs. StonePebble vs. Stone
Dua FatimaDua Fatima
May 30, 2024
A pebble is a small, smooth rock worn by water or weather, typically found on beaches or rivers, while a stone is a larger, more varied rock that can be rough or smooth, used in construction or as a tool.
Traditional Trade vs. Modern TradeTraditional Trade vs. Modern Trade
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
Traditional trade involves local, small-scale, often personalized commerce; modern trade is characterized by large-scale, technology-driven, and impersonal retail environments.
Seed vs. GrainSeed vs. Grain
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
January 24, 2024
A seed is a plant's reproductive unit capable of developing into another plant, while a grain is a type of seed harvested from cereal plants, often used for food.

Featured Comparisons

New Comparisons