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An explanation is a text used to describe how things work and why things happen. It may cover both nature and technology.

Explanations can:

  • describe how things work, for example 'how does a camera work?'
  • describe why things happen, like 'why is there lightning in a storm?'
  • show how things are similar or different, such as rainwater and sea water
  • try to solve a problem, like 'how do I remove a stain from my shirt?'

An explanation tries to provide answers to questions that the reader may have so that the reader learns new things.


  • Phenomenon identification
  • Explanation sequence


Language features


         Technical terms (e.g. evaporation, degradation)

         Action verbs and present tense (e.g. runs, develops, becomes)

         Passive voice (e.g. water is pulled up..)

         Cause and effect terms (e.g. because of.., due to.., therefore, as a result)


Example of Explanation a short extract 


Earthquakes are caused when tension is released from the rocks in the Earth's crust and upper mantle. This tension is due to friction between what scientists believe are large 'plates' floating on magma on the Earth's surface. Sometimes earthquakes happen when the rocks in the earth's crust bend and break. This causes shock waves to travel on the earth's surface, resulting in widespread destruction.




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Question 1/5

1. Which of the following would be an explanation?

The story of Dennis the Dinosaur.

A recipe for dinosaur stew.

A day in the life of a dinosaur.

How dinosaurs became extinct.


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