Explicit vs. Implicit

  malza  —  Grammar Tips
Explicit vs. Implicit

Have you ever confused "explicit" for "implicit" in a sentence, or at least wondered whether you should use the first one or the second? No worries, confusions are frequently created between words that are spelled similarly.

It's important, though, that you understand what every word means, so you will always use them right in the future. Let's take a look to the cases that require "explicit" and when you should prefer "implicit" in your phrases!

Explicit vs. Implicit

 Both "explicit" and "implicit" are adjectives, commonly used in English, both in two different contexts. "Explicit" refers to something very exact, very clearly explained in the first place. Secondly, "explicit" can also be used when referring to a very detailed sexual or violent scene, usually in a movie or in a book.

The second one, "implicit", might look and sound similar to "explicit", though its meaning has nothing to do with it. "Implicit" is used when referring to something that is not stated directly, but is suggested or understood either way. As a secondary signification, it can be synonym with "complete", as you will see in the examples below.

When do we use "explicit"?

"Explicit" is only the form of the adjective, so you should only use it to describe things that are clearly explained or detailed.

Example 1: The manager provided very explicit instructions: no one could leave their desk until the project wasn't completed. - used with the meaning of "clear" instructions.

Example 2: The movie we saw at the cinema contained very explicit scenes of violence. - referring to a detailed scene of violence.

When do we use "implicit"?

Just as the previous one, "implicit" should only be used as an adjective, referring to the property of a thing to be understood without direct statement.

Example 1: His gestures were interpreted as implicit disagreement. - "implicit" refers to a disagreement that was not stated directly, but understood anyway (in this case, from gestures).

Example 2: The only thing I feel for my sister is implicit trust. - in this context, "implicit" refers to complete, absolute faith or trust.


"Explicit" and "implicit" are completely different words, if you look to their meaning, and should therefore never be confused one for the other in order to keep your message unchanged.

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