relation / relationship

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by mzg, May 17, 2005.

  1. mzg Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish

    When I DO NOT refer to people. Is there a difference between relation and relationship?


    It is easy to see the relation/relationship between the books " Pamela" and "Clarissa".

    This is a book about international relations/relationships.

    There is a tight relation/relationship between success and efficient time management.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2014
  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Normally, a "relationship" is only between people. I would use "relation" in those three cases.
  3. cubaMania Senior Member

    When you are talking about a connection or association between two things, specifically in the form relation/relationship between A and B, as in your first and third examples, I think either relation or relationship can be used. In the second example, however, international relations and international relationships would not necessarily mean the same thing. International relations is a term commonly used for diplomatic matters among nations of the world. International relationships to me sounds ambiguous. I would not be sure whether it referred to relationships between people in different countries, relationships between countries, or something else.

    To explore a little further the differences between the two words, especially when not used in the form relation/relationship between A and B, you might want to take a look at
  4. rightondev New Member

    Etymologically, a relationship concerns the sense of being related and thus does primarily apply to people. However, the concept of a relationship can be abstracted to all things, and results in the follow distinction between the two terms:

    A relation is a concept relating two things.

    A relationship is a conception of a relation.

    Consequently, in many cases the distinction between the two words is unnecessary. In fact, unless a relationship supports added subtleties the two words collapse for all intensive purpose to mean the same thing. Examples will make this clearer.

    Example 1. Equality

    In the case of 2=2, we can say that equality is both a relation and a relationship between the 2 and itself. The relation and relationship are the same because there are no addition ways to qualify equality.

    Example 2. Greater than.

    In the case of 3>1, the relation and relationship are distinct things. We should use relation when we mean to speak of the abstract concept of being more in number, but we should use relationship when we want to speak of the fact that 3 is precisely 2 more than 1. In this way, while 2 and 1 and 3 and 1 both relate by greater than, the exact relationships are distinct.

    Example 3. Siblings.

    In the case of two sisters, the word relation refers to their being siblings, but when it comes to the relationship between the two, the added subtlety of them being on good or bad terms can come into play. This is why we always choose to say "How's their relationship?" when we want the gossipy details, but only say "What's the relation?" when we want to find out how family members relate.
  5. little_ginny Senior Member

    español Peru
    Oh, my Gosh!!!
    My brain is going to explode!!
    Maybe I am a little bit stupid but I don't understand.
    ¿Por favor, alguien me lo puede explicar en español?
    Porque me rayé...
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2014
  6. PhDando Member

    Spain (spanish)
    Pues no sé si te lo podré explicar bien, porque yo he caído aquí buscando la diferencia entre 'relation' y 'relationship'. Bueno, allá va mi intento.

    En resumen podría decirse que 'relation' es más conceptual y 'relationship' más cualitativo. El ejemplo de las hermanas está bastante claro. Su 'relation' es que son hermanas y su 'relationship' hace referencia a cómo se llevan.

    En mi caso, buscaba la diferencia entre estas dos palabras porque tengo una función matemática cuya forma depende de la relación entre dos parámetros, y, claro, no sabía si usar 'relation' o 'relationship'. Por lo leído aquí parece que tendría que usar 'relationship' ya que la forma de esa función no sólo depende de si un parámetro es mayor que el otro o de si son iguales, sino de cuánto mayor. Es decir, hay que entrar en detalles.

    En otro hilo explican también muy bien lo de las relaciones internacionales. Usarías 'relationship' si entraras en detalle de cómo son dichas relaciones, por ejemplo: "the relationship between the Bolivian government and the US government is strained". Si simplemente dices que tienen relaciones diplomáticas pero no dices cómo son, entonces: "the US government has diplomatic relations with the Bolivian government"

    Espero haberlo entendido y que te ayude.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2014
  7. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    En matemáticas, creo que se suele decir más relation.
  8. Orena New Member

    Ukraine (Ukrainian, Russian)
    the explanation of rightondev was the best I've seen on the web. Thanks a lot!
  9. carlos2401 New Member

    Lima, Perú
    Thanks to rightondev and PhDando. Their explanations were very thorough.

    My doubt is among two variables in an statistical setting. Here is what I want to say:

    "Given X1, X2 provides an ideal setting to examine the impact of A on B and C. The present research attempts to examine and quantify these relationships"

    I hope I'm correct using "relationships" instead of "relation" since I want to quantify instead of just establishing a relation...

    Any comments are very welcome!
  10. momeng New Member

    english US
    rightondev, it is little hard to consider your answer seriously, when you use "all intensive purposes" instead of "all intents and purposes".
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2014
  11. nina31 New Member

    English - United States; Portuguese - Brazil
    FROM BBC website:

    A relationship is a close friendship between two people, especially one involving romantic feelings:

    They had been together for two years and Mike wanted to carry on, but Jenny felt that their relationship wasn't really going anywhere.

    Relationship can be used in two other ways.
    It can describe two things and the way in which they are connected:

    Doctors now believe that there may be some relationship / connection between autism and the MMR vaccine.
    It can also describe close ties between people or groups of people and the way they feel and behave towards each other:

    The Smiths placed great emphasis on close family relationships and always went on holiday together.

    The relationship between the leaders of the two countries has never been closer.


    Relation also describes the link between people, groups or countries and the way they behave towards each other. In this sense there is very little difference between relations and relationship. For instance, we could also say:

    Relations between (the leaders of) the two countries have never been closer.
    Most of the differences are context specific in this sense. For example, we talk about diplomatic relations and race relations, not diplomatic relationships or race relationships:

    Diplomatic relations between the two countries were broken off over this incident and their ambassadors were sent home.

    The need to improve race relations in Inner London boroughs is of paramount importance.

    Your relations are also members of your family:

    I invited all my friends and relations to my twenty-first birthday party.

    Mark Totterdale and Simon Totterdale (no relation) are both head teachers in Bristol.

    Your blood relations are the people who are related to you by birth, not through marriage. If you say that they are your own flesh and blood, you are emphasizing that they are members of your own family:

    He's my own flesh and blood. I can't leave him to fend for himself when he needs my help.
  12. Nacheins Member

    Hello, everybody.

    As always, thanks in advance for all the help this site provides us. Right now, I want to say that I was looking for a clarification on this difference, because I'm translating some legal documents, and one of them is a "Certificado de Relaciones Comerciales", issued by a Bank to support a man's financial statement.

    After reading, I am pretty decided to use "Certificate of Commercial Relationships", understanding something a little closer and dynamic than just the fact of commercing here and there.

    I also want to thank rightondev and Phdando. Yours are great explanations! As for poor minds like Stanmoss's, pity to them. Probably he/she does not read at all, and therefore his/her inability to understand... anything.

    See you!
  13. Timo2009 New Member

    Ferrara, Italy
    English - American
    Hi, I know that 5 years have passed since this was written and I know that everyone thinks that I was toilet trained much too early, but the expression is "for all intents and purposes".
    Thanks for listening and thanks for your explanation of relation and relationship, it's exactly what I was looking for.
  14. juanpide Senior Member


    Then, would you say ...?
    Manage the relations with the customers.
    Manage the relationship with the customers.
    Manage customers' relations.
    Manage customers' relationships.

    I mean somebody that organizes meetings with his customers or investors, tries that they are happy with the services the company provides...
  15. igual2 Member

    español de españa,castellano y gallego
    Tengo una explicación que proponer para esta discusión. Os lo suplico, sed despiadados conmigo.
    What about friendship? We are friends. We are a friendship. We are a relationship as a friends.
    Es decir: Somos amigos (o amigas). Tenemos una relación de amistad. Lo que tenemos es una relación de amistad.
    No sé si relationship puede aplicarse a objetos, como números o ecuaciones matemáticas, pero lo dudo. ¿Puede tener un número primo una relación de amistad con un número irracional, como la raiz cuadrada de -1?
    By the way I've got a relation with my 'relatives', but there's not necessary I've got a relationship. Por cierto, tengo relación (de sangre y familia) con mis parientes (primos, primas, tios,tias, abuelos, nietos...) y eso no se puede cambiar, es biológico, pero si tengo una buena relación con ellos, si nos queremos o nos odiamos tenemos una relación cercana y sentimental. Es decir, 'relation' implica estar conectados por vínculos más allá de nuestra voluntad, mientras que 'relationship' implica el tipo de relación en la que interviene la voluntad de las partes, voluntad de querer o no tener una relación, sea de amor o de odio. Quiero significar que da igual que odiemos o amemos, lo contrario del amor no es el odio, sino la indiferencia. Si tus parientes, o algún pariente te es indiferente, tiene una 'relation' con quien sea, si le amas o le odias tienes una 'relationship'.
    Seguro que alguien estará en desacuerdo. Por favor decidme que estoy equivocado e indicadme en qué y cómo.
    Muchas gracias.
  16. vertebrado Banned

    espanol (Espana)

    According to this: is their relationship?

    Relation would be everything that can be phrased like: What is their relation?
    Relationship would be everything that can be phrased like: How is their relationship?

    It seems too easy to be true. What am I missing?
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  17. Txiri

    Txiri Senior Member

    USA English
    Sad, but true.
  18. EdisonBhola Senior Member

    I've read the entire thread 3 times and still as confused as ever.

    If the sentence goes like this:
    "Sam got his job because of his (relation/relations/relationship) with the manager."

    Are all three correct?
  19. neant77 New Member

    So this forum must be about the relation between relation and relationship, because the difference or similarity of any two concepts should be discussed based on the fact that these two are related. The two related things or people must have a specific relation that can develop a certain relationship.That's why the relationship is mostly made between the subjects who or which can be envolved in the relationship regarding their relations for themselves. However, once we started talking about the relation between relation and relationship, now we need to think about the contextual relationship between the two.
  20. EddieZumac

    EddieZumac Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Welcome to the WR forum, rightondev, and thanks for the information.

    Welcome to the WR forum, momeng, and thanks for the correction.

    Welcome to the WR forum, neant77, and thanks for the information.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2018
  21. Moritzchen Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Spanish, USA
    How cute...
  22. acme_54

    acme_54 Senior Member

    Valencia, Spain
    English UK
    En textos de este tipo: "Así mismo, también se estudió la relación de la CE (Conductividad Eléctrica) con la composición de la leche... ", se suele emplear "relation". Cuando se trata de relaciones interpersonales, "relationship" suele ser la forma más apta.
  23. MBAnightmare

    MBAnightmare New Member

    Although is a little bit late for me to add my opinion on this topic, here I go.

    Relation refers to the connection of two subjects, not to how they are connected. Examples: (1) There is a relation between my mother and I. Notice that I am not saying how good or bad (choose the adjective you like) is our relationship. (2) Integer numbers have a relation with real numbers. Also notice that I am not saying what kind of relation it is; if I'd want to specify it, I'd say integer numbers have an inclusive relationship with real numbers. (3- the exception). Spain and Portugal have a very good relation. When talking about countries or cities, you can't use relationship. Finally, when you use relation in a sentence, you can change it's tense: in (1) I could have also said my mother and I are related, or in (2), integer numbers and real numbers are related. To sum up:

    1. Relation is used to say that two subjects are connected, with the exception of countries, when you can use it both to say that they are related and to describe their relation.
    2. Relationship is used when describing a relation.
    3. When two subjects have a relation, you can also say that those two subjects are related. When talking about a relationship (usually when it is alone in a sentence it refers to a love relationship), obviously the subjects involved are related, so you can't change relationship by "are related".

    I hope it is useful for you, guys. Have fun learning this beautiful language!
  24. juanpide Senior Member

    I'm still waiting for an answer, please.
  25. acme_54

    acme_54 Senior Member

    Valencia, Spain
    English UK

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