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How does one distinguish the three words? I checked several sites.

First, I checked Weblio which told me that there's really a relationship among the three. Next, I checked HiNative links here and here which suggested that 解釈 is the odd one out (which has a meaning close to interpretation), and that 説明 is a more general term and gives a more objective explanation, while 解説 can include a more subjective (and/or expert) opinion.

I would like to check if these statements are true.

  • 2
    I agree with 解釈 being the odd one out. 拡大解釈 = "Broad interpretation" – istrasci Jun 3 at 22:56
  • Thank you @istrasci – rebuuilt Jun 3 at 23:23
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I agree with nozomiiin's explanation, but not with mfuji's.

解説 has a narrower meaning than 説明. 解説 refers to a logical and detailed explanation/lecture/commentary about difficult concepts, problems, etc., usually given by someone who is knowledgeable about that topic.

  • 教授に相対性理論についての解説をしていただいた。(相対性理論 = theory of relativity)
  • この内戦について、軍事評論家の○○さんが解説します。
  • この辞書には単語の解説が詳しく載っている。

You can usually replace 解説 to 説明, but 解説 is often preferred because it sounds more detailed and authoritative.

In sports, a main play-by-play commentator is called a 実況 (who is usually a professional announcer), and a former athlete who sits next to the 実況 and provides expert analysis is called a 解説(者). This is a fixed role name that cannot be replaced by 説明(者).

説明 is explanation in general, and it doesn't have to be related to expert knowledge. You can only use 説明 in the following situations:

  • あなたの質問の意味が分かりません。文脈を説明してください。
  • なぜ宿題をしてこなかったのか説明しなさい。
  • 事件を目撃したので、やってきた警察官に状況を説明した。

I don't think 解説 is more subjective and 説明 is more objective. Contrarily, 説明 can be more personal and subjective, whereas 解説 is at least supposed to be unopinionated and fair.

解釈 is "interpretation" of something difficult or ambiguous. Basically it's an internal process done only in one's head.

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  • 1
    Thank you for your 解説 @naruto さん – rebuuilt Jun 4 at 3:10

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