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I found the following sentence in a grade three 语文 school book in China (transcript).

他终于弄明白了,这块大石头是从遥远的秦岭被冰川带到这里来的。
[My translation] He finally understood, this big rock is from the distant Qinling glacier and lead here.

Question:Why is (nòng) in 他终于弄明白了?

As I see it, 他终于明白了 (without 弄) would have exactly the same meaning.

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    Also another error, the rock is from 秦岭(which is the name of a mountain range), but brought here by 冰川. – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Jun 15 at 14:53
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弄 = "to make/ to get"

e.g.

干净= clean

弄干净 = make/ get (it) clean

错 = wrong

弄错 = get (it) wrong

清楚 = clear

弄清楚 = make (it) clear

他终于明白了 - he finally understands

明白 (understand) is a verb here

~

他终于弄明白了 - he finally figured out

弄明白 = make (himself) understand = figures out

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弄xx in Chinese implies that it takes some efforts, such as practicing, thinking and etc to get things crossed. So, 弄明白 is saying that he has done some research or mulled it over for some time in order to understand it.

我终于明白了 means I finally realize/get the idea. It could be that the idea suddenly came to my mind and I might not have to take any efforts to work it out.

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