Explanation Text

Definition and purposes of Explanation

Explanation is a text which tells processes relating to forming of natural, social, scientific and cultural phenomena. 

Explanation text is to say ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the forming of the phenomena. It is often found in science, geography and history text books.

To explain the processes involved in the formation or working of natural or socio-cultural phenomena.

Generic structure of Explanation

  • General statement; stating the phenomenon issues which are to be explained.
  • Sequenced explanation; stating a series of steps which explain the phenomena
  • Closing

Generic Structure Explanation Text

  1. General statement
    tentang penjelasan umum tentang fenomena yang akan dibahas, bisa berupa pengenalan fenomena tersebut atau penjelasannya.
  2. Squenced of explanation
    berisi tentang penjelasan proses mengapa fenomena tersebut bisa terjadi atau tercipta. A squenced of explanation berupa jawaban dari pertanyaan ‘why’ dan ‘how’ penulis ketika membuat sebuah Explanation text. Dalam squenced of explanation bisa terdiri lebih dari satu paragrap.
  3. Closing
    Sebenarnya closing itu tidak tercantum dalam generic structure dari Explanation text, tetapi kebanyakan orang beranggapan bahwa paragrap terakhir dari sebuah Explanation text adalah closing, padahal itu merupakan bagian dari squenced of explantaion yang berisi tentang langkah akhir yang dijelaskan pada bagian squenced of explanation.

Language Feature

  1. Featuring generic participant; sun, rain, etc
  2. Using chronological connection; to begin with, next, etc
  3. Using passive voice pattern
  4. Using simple present tense

Ciri-ciri Explanation Text

  1. Sebuah Explanation text biasanya berasal dari pertanyaan penulis terkait ‘why’ dan ‘how’ terhadap suatu fenomena yang ada.
  2. Karena yang diangkat adalah fenomena maka fokus materinya bukan pada bendanya atau orangnya, melainkan pada kejadian atau peristiwa yang terjadi pada orang atau benda tersebut.
  3. Menggunakan Simple Present tense.

Examples and Structures of the texts

Making Paper from Woodchips

A general statement Woodchipping is a process used to obtain pulp and paper products from forest trees.
The woodchipping process begins when the trees are cut down in a selected area of the forest called a coupe.
A sequencedexplanation of Next the tops and branches of the trees are cut out and then the logs are taken to the mill.
why or how something occurs At the mill the bark of the logs is removed and the logs are taken to a chipper which cuts them into small pieces called woodchips.
The woodchips are then screened to remove dirt and other impurities.At this stage they are either exported in this form or changed into pulp by chemicals and heat.
The pulp is then bleached and the water content is removed.
Closing Finally the pulp is rolled out to make paper.

Example of Explanation Text

How Earthquakes Happen

Earthquake is one of the most destroying natural disasters. Unluckily it often happens in several regions. Recently a horrible earthquake has shaken West Sumatra. It has brought great damages. Why did it occur? Do you know how an earthquake happens?

Earthquakes are usually caused when rock underground suddenly breaks along a fault. This sudden release of energy causes the seismic waves. It make the ground shake. When two blocks of rock or two plates are rubbing against each other, they stick a little. They don’t just slide smoothly. The rocks are still pushing against each other, but not moving. After a while, the rocks break because of all the pressure that’s built up. When the rocks break, the earthquake occurs.

During the earthquake and afterward, the plates or blocks of rock start moving, and they continue to move until they get stuck again. The spot underground where the rock breaks is called the focus of the earthquake. The place right above the focus is called the epicenter of the earthquake.


The term of “tsunami” comes from the Japanese which means harbour (“tsu”) and wave (“nami”). A tsunamigk is a series of waves generated when water in a lake or the sea is rapidly displaced on a massive scale.

A tsunami can be generated when the sea floor abruptly deforms and vertically displaces the overlying water. Such large vertical movements of the earth’s crust can occur at plate boundaries.

Subduction of earthquakes are particularly effective in generating tsunamis, and occur where denser oceanic plates slip under continental plates.

As the displaced water mass moves under the influence of gravity to regain its equilibrium, it radiates across the ocean like ripples on a pond.

Tsunami always bring great damage. Most of the damage is caused by the huge mass of water behind the initial wave front, as the height of the sea keeps rising fast and floods powerfully into the coastal area.

(simplified from www.panda.org)

How Day and Night Happen

The sun seems to rise in the morning, crosses the sky during the day and sets at night. However the sun does not actually move around the earth. Earth’s turning on its axis makes it look as if the sun is moves.

The earth makes a complete turn on its axis for 24 hours. It is called as rotation. It causes day and night. The earth also moves around the sun. It takes 365 days or a year. This process is called revolution. The revolution process causes the changes of the season

Why Summer Daylight is Longger than Winter Daylight

In the summer, the amount of daylight that we get is more than we get in winter. This is not because as much people think we are closer to the sun but because of the tilt of the earth.

The earth is actually closer to the sun in winter than it is in summer but you would be forgiven for thinking that this can not be true after looking out of your window on a cold and frosty morning.

It seems strange that as the earth get closer to the sun during its orbit then the amount of daylight that we get decrease. But that is the case. It is the tilt of the earth that determine the amount of daylight that we get and so the length of time that for us the sun is above the horizon.

 (Taken from: www.ictteachers.co.uk)

Generic Structure Analysis

General statement; stating the phenomenon whic daylight in summer is longer than in winter.

Explanation; it is the tilt of the earth that determines the amount of daylight not the distance of the earth from the sun.

Language Feature Analysis

Focusing generic participant; daylight.

Using chronological connection; then, so, but.

Using pasive voice; you would be forgiven.

Using present tense; the earth is actually closer to the sun.


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