Recently, we published a post on words for things that confuse us. This week we’re considering the opposite and looking instead at words and phrases that we use to describe things that are easy to understand.
Let’s start with the very common adjective clear. Something that is clear is easy to understand, often because it has been explained well: clear instructions / directions. If we want to emphasize that something is extremely clear, we might describe it as crystal clear: My instructions were crystal clear. We also use ‘clear’ to say that we understand something: Are you clear about what you’re supposed to be doing?
As is often the case, different ‘easy to understand’ synonyms are used to describe slightly different things. For example, something may be easy to understand because it involves few parts or stages. For this meaning, we often use the adjective simple: The instructions are accompanied by simple diagrams. A task that is easy to do because it involves few parts or stages may be described as straightforward. You can put the shelves together in under an hour – it’s a fairly straightforward job. Meanwhile, a piece of information that is self-explanatory contains enough information to be understood. No extra information is therefore needed: I think the instructions are fairly self-explanatory.
Speech and writing that is clear enough to be understood may be described as intelligible: We just need a set of intelligible instructions. It may also be described as comprehensible: I find his writing barely comprehensible. The adjective understandable can also be used: We need to put the facts into a form that’s understandable to everyone.
Something that has been expressed so clearly that it can only be understood in one way may be described as unambiguous: This was a clear and unambiguous statement of intent. The adjective explicit is very similarly emphatic, meaning ‘clear and precise’: We gave explicit instructions on how they were to proceed.
Art, literature, music, etc. that can be understood and enjoyed by most people is sometimes said to be accessible: He wanted to make classical music accessible to a wider public.
Finally, a piece of equipment or system that is user-friendly is simple to use or easy to understand, even for a person with little knowledge or skill: The latest model is more user-friendly.
We hope you have found the information in this post crystal clear!