avantages économiques


New Member
I wanted to know when we use "economic" and when we use "economical"? I wanted to know the difference between the two.

nb: it's the same thing with "historic" and "historical".

If I want to say "avantages économiques", should I say "economic assets/advantages" or "economical assets/advantages"?

Thanks for your help.
  • Starcreator

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Economic is appropriate there. As is historicak. To be honest, I hardly ever use the words economical or historic, so I believe if you stick to economic and historical in these situations you will be fine.

    A couple of exceptions:

    When talking about a plan, one will be more economical than another.
    We look at historical facts and figures.

    Like anything else in one's langue maternelle, we just know which is correct and which isn't; peut-être les autres seront-ils un peu plus informés quant aux règles!



    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Welcome to these forums, jabamiah:)

    The differences are subtle, have changed over time, and are not always followed by native-speakers.

    Anything that happened in the past is historical, it happened in history.

    Only really important events would be described as historic, as having had a significant impact on history.

    Anything relating to economics might be described as economic - policies, systems, surveys, analyses...

    Anything described as economical would generally be considered to be thrifty, careful in expenditure, good value ... perhaps even frugal.


    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Building on what Starcreator has said, economic and historical are "neutral" adjectives, merely attaching the noun to the field of economics and history:
    - economic advantages = financial advantages = more money
    - economic costs = the costs in terms of money (as opposed to "costs in human life", say)
    - historical facts = facts relating to history
    - a historical figure = someone who lived in the past

    Economical is much narrower and refers to "saving money", not spending too much money.
    - This car is very economical = it costs a lot less money to drive than the average car.
    - An old white sheet makes a very economical Halloween costume = a cheap costume.
    - He's very economical with his words = he expresses his opinions very concisely, or he doesn't speak much.

    Historic is also much narrower and means "very important" (often, but not necessarily, on a historical level).
    - 9 November 1989 was a historic moment for most Germans = an important event, that most Germans will remember.
    - 2005 saw a historic victory by England's cricket team over Australia to win the Ashes = such a victory hasn't happened in a long time and was very important to English cricket fans.

    Another similar pairing is classical vs classic: classical relates to a "Classical" period (Greeks and Romans, or the 17th century), or to the music that developed during the latter period (and by extension to most pre-20th century music).
    - Classical music
    - Classical architecture

    Classic is a little like historic and describes something of particular importance, not in terms of history but in terms of epitomizing a type or genre.
    - The Beatles wrote dozens of pop music classics = good, memorable examples of pop music
    - He met this French girl and made the classic mistake of using "baiser" as a verb instead of as a noun! = typical, standard (and crucial)

    EDIT: Too slow, of course! But Panj respects usage where I've tried to explain the principle. The difference between historic and historical is particularly weak these days, especially as people try to market anything old as important. "Come visit historic downtown Fargo (or wherever)" says many a signpost along America's highways. I'm sure the actual relationship between the two words is a lot more entangled than most grammar books and I make out.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Aupick does not do justice to his excellent exposition and examples.

    Isn't it strange that the general terms are economic and historical, the more narrow, economical and historic. It would have been a lot more helpful to non-natives if the -ic and -ical meanings were consistent:D


    Sorry - you also asked, If I want to say "avantages économiques", should I say "economic assets/advantages" or "economical assets/advantages"?

    I would suggest economic benefits - a very common phrase in English (among those who care about such things) but this would need to be confirmed by someone whose French is a great deal better than mine.


    New Member
    Thank you sooo much everyone! I'm very pleased to see that this forum is very friendly and offers some help so quickly.

    Thanks for your answers. Thanks thanks thanks! :)
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