Grammar Corner: Implicit vs. Explicit

In this edition of Grammar Corner, we discuss some of the most widely used grammar errors in the English language. We don’t just correct you, though; we pinpoint exactly why a particular word/phrase/idiom is used incorrectly, while providing the context for each mistake, and then providing the right word/phrase/idiom.

Most of the time, a grammar error occurs because of homophones. Homophones are two words that sound exactly the same, but mean vastly different things. But it’s not just their meaning that’s different; homophones can also function as vastly different parts of speech.

In this edition, we discuss a common grammar error: Implicit vs. Explicit. Despite sounding kind of similar, this word pair actually works opposite each other; that is, their similarity in sound and spelling is due to the fact that they are direct antonyms of one another.

When to Use Implicit

Image from Pixabay

When we use the word implicit, we mean to say that something was implied; that is, an idea, thought, or opinion was expressed without being directly stated. Alternatively, an idea, thought, or opinion was stated suggestively, meaning that, while the idea, thought, or opinion wasn’t said out loud, everything else surrounding it suggests it. For example:

I’m upset because you implied that I’ve gained weight!

The implications of your actions are astounding; people might take it as carte blanche to dye all the penguins any color in the future!

While my actions do imply that I did something unprofessional, let me just be clear: your grandmother and I did nothing you wouldn’t have approved.

I feel like you’re implying I’m a failure just because my head-swapping experiments have yet to produce any fruitful results!

Am I implying that I can finish this 5lb bowl of pasta? I don’t know, but maybe you should stick around to find out.

Mr. Morgenstern, I’m not saying that you’re unhealthy, but the fact that it takes a small forklift to wheel you around the city should imply that maybe you need to lose a few pounds?

I mean, your hood and your scythe do imply that you’re the grim reaper. Well, that and the fact that you’re an animated skeleton with the souls of the damned trying to escape from your maw, but sure, I’ll buy that Xbox from you.

Listen, I wasn’t trying to imply anything when I called you the “Big Easy”, I just wanted to say that you’re from Louisiana!

It’s not my fault that you felt like I implied you gained weight! I’m just saying, that’s your 5th personal pizza for lunch.

When to Use Explicit

Image from Pixabay

On the other hand, when we use the word explicit, we mean to say that something was explicated; that is, an idea, thought, or opinion was expressed directly. This idea, thought, or opinion is made very clear, spelled out completely so as to avoid confusion or misunderstanding. For example:

I explicitly told you to clean up the Great Room! But you didn’t, and now everything smells like bathwater!

Sir, I understand he’s only 8years old and these handcuffs are far too large for him, but the law explicitly bans people from throwing snowballs, no matter how fine the powder is. I’m just trying to do my job.

Although I didn’t explicitly say it, I would think that it was common sense not to smear spaghetti sauce on anything BUT pasta, but whatever I could be wrong.

Whoa, why are you so mad? Your explicit instructions were to “clean the wolverine cage”, you didn’t say anything about shutting the door once I’m done.

The lyrics of this song are fairly explicit, in that it doesn’t make shy the singer’s love for pumpkin-spice lattes.

Hey, your promo says “all you can eat”, it doesn’t explicitly say that I have to stop after closing time!

Did you explicitly say that they couldn’t steal from you?

I’m not going to beat around the bush any longer, Mr. Morgenstern; your organs are being crushed by your own body’s fat cells.

Have you ever seen Stacy acting weirdly? She explicitly asked us to take her to the nearest exorcist if she does, and I’m pretty sure her crab-walking down the road is pretty weird.

Company policy explicitly states that sleeping on the job will require a memo! Now, get off my desk, take your pillow, and go back to work.

Which One to Use: Implicit or Explicit?

This one is fairly simple: if you mean to say that something is implied, say implicit. If you mean to say that something was expressed directly, say explicit.

Implicit means that something was expressed, but there is room for confusion and interpretation, whereas explicit means whatever was expressed leaves no room for doubt or any interpretation other than what was stated.

About the Author



Scroll to Top