Me and a friend were having an argument recently over "Motivate your answer". He said this:

see it like this, motivate = force that drives you, okay? motivate your choices = arguments you considered that have driven you towards that choice

So it appears to be a more literal translation, like:

Give reason to your answer.

Is this the case, or is just simply wrong?

  • "Motivate" is used with a special meaning in mathematics and related fields. Does this apply here? – GEdgar Apr 17 '12 at 19:37
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    Sounds wrong to me (a native English speaker), despite the definition you gave. (As does "Me and a friend...") – JLG Apr 17 '12 at 20:17
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    Can you use it in a complete sentence where you think one thing and your friend he other? And explain what your friend thinks and what you think? Otherwise there's little to go on here other than simply giving what we think 'motivate your answer.' could mean. – Mitch Apr 17 '12 at 21:57

I would probably go for "justify" your answer with the meaning of "give reasons for your answer". However, the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary states that "motivate" has precisely this meaning in formal South African English, so perhaps it is the same elsewhere too.

  • You may also "substantiate" your decision. – Graffito Dec 4 '16 at 0:15

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