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  1. Diese Idee ist einfach zu erklären
  2. Diese Idee ist einfach zum erklären

I've seen both versions, but I think only 1. is correct (of course I may be wrong). If 2. is also correct, shouldn't the substantivated verb be capitalized, ie

Diese Idee ist einfach zum Erklären


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Except for the capitalization the second sentence is grammatically correct. Only semantically, it's nonsense. (And of course, with ä instead of a, but that's just a typo). Also note the SentryRaven's comment – Em1 Jan 21 '14 at 14:25
Fixed the umlaut, thanks. – karoshi Jan 21 '14 at 14:45
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The correct version is:

Diese Idee ist einfach zu erklären.

You are however correct in your second statement that when zum is used, the Erklären needs to be capitalized as it becomes a noun:

Zum Erklären benutze ich immer gerne Beispiele.

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1st is correct. While the 2nd is not utterly wrong (and you are right about the capitlization) and still understandable, it sounds ankward and I wouldn't use it.

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The second example however changes the meaning of the sentence. His first examples states: The idea is easy to explain. whereas his second example, although somewhat crudely, states: It is pretty easy to explain, using this idea. The idea is used as the instrument and not as the object being explained. – SentryRaven Jan 21 '14 at 14:16
Nein, das wäre "Mit dieser Idee ist es einfach zu erklären". Die zweite Version ist einfach Murks aber womöglich hier und das Mundart. – user unknown Jan 22 '14 at 5:18
@userunknown This is why I said it was somewhat crude. It's obviously not the correct sentence structure or common, but with the way it's written, it would make the idea to the instrument. – SentryRaven Jan 22 '14 at 8:12

Second one isn't correct. First one can be used. Yes, if the second one was correct, you would have to capitalize "Erklären". A slightly awkward, but correct sentence exemplifying this would be "Die Erklärung dieser Idee ist einfach". I probably would say "Dies ist einfach zu erklären" (leaving out the "idea" out completely) though - the something you're trying to explain is likely inferrable from context.

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Yes, I used "idea" just to give a bit of context, but the question is really about this kind of construction in general. – karoshi Jan 21 '14 at 14:18

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