Difference between Instructions and Explanations

Key difference: Instructions are mainly associated with instruction or teaching. Hence, instructions are given to teach somebody something. Explanations, on the other hand, are the act of explaining something. An explanation is a set of statements that describe a set of facts which aims to clarify the causes, context, and consequences of those facts.

Instructions and explanations are two difference words, which may be commonly confused. A person may require instructions or an explanation on how to get the work done. However, which is which, and what should the person ask for: instructions or explanations.

Dictionary.com defines instructions as:

  • The act or practice of instructing or teaching; education.
  • Knowledge or information imparted.
  • An item of such knowledge or information.
  • Usually, instructions. orders or directions: The instructions are on the back of the box.
  • The act of furnishing with authoritative directions.
  • Computers. A command given to a computer to carry out a particular operation.

While, explanations are defined as:

  • The act or process of explaining.
  • Something that explains; a statement made to clarify something and make it understandable; exposition: an explanation of a poem.
  • A meaning or interpretation: to find an explanation for a mystery.
  • A mutual declaration of the meaning of words spoken, actions, motives, etc., with a view to adjusting a misunderstanding or reconciling differences: After a long and emotional explanation they were friends again.

Instructions act as guidelines. They often appear as a series of steps or stages one must complete one after the other. Instructions are mainly associated with instruction or teaching. Hence, instructions are given to teach somebody something. For example: instructions for cooking, instructions for knitting a scarf, instructions for building a dollhouse, instructions for completing a project, instructions for writing a report, instruction manual for any and all electronic appliances, etc.

Explanations, on the other hand, are the act of explaining something. An explanation is a set of statements that describe a set of facts which aims to clarify the causes, context, and consequences of those facts. Explanations may establish rules or laws or they may clarify existing rules, laws or instructions. For example: He explained the story well, an explanation was required as to what he was taking about, an explanation was required as to why he was here, an explanation was required as to why he didn’t complete his work, an explanation was required as to why he was late, etc.

Example: The employee was given a set of step-by-step instructions to complete the paperwork. Each step was further explained with examples. However, when he was still unable to complete the work, he owed an explanation to his superior.

Image Courtesy: ngfl-cymru.org.uk, search-for-emes.blogspot.com

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