the difference between economic and economical

episteme0507

Member
Korean
Most Korean English teachers routinely test the students on the difference between similar-looking words the meanings of which are very slightly different. One of the pairs is Economic versus Economical. My question is, do you guys really differentiate these words in reality? In addition, if so, can you please explain the difference?
Actually, my American friends oppose that they differ in meaning.

Thanks!!!
 
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I am British English. It's easy to think up examples of the difference:

    In difficult times, the economical use of resources is important. :tick:
    In difficult times, the economic use of resources is important. :cross:

    The economic future of the nation is at stake. :tick:
    The economical future of the nation is at stake. :cross:

    I'm interested you say that your American friends think there is no difference. Would anyone care to comment?
     

    episteme0507

    Member
    Korean
    I already know the difference between two words. But here as a second language learner, I sometimes really doubt even trivial grammatical things. So, I just haphazardly asked one of my friends that question. My question was precisely like " do you guys really differentiate these two words in reality?". But he said... hmm kinda interchangeable. And then I said "really????" and explained what I wrote above to him.
     

    episteme0507

    Member
    Korean
    For instance, because of less opportunities. What I mean by that is this kind of thing commonly makes me doubt everything that I know. I know it is not correct according to English grammar per se. But based on ambient speech, Americans around me frequently use that like I have less opportunities...~~~ instead of fewer opportunities. sorry for this rambling above.

    Anyhow, thank you for your comments!!
     

    morior_invictus

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Hello episteme,

    a dictionary is always a good place to start:
    economic
    adjective
    1 [only before noun] connected with the trade, industry and development of wealth of a country, an area or a society
    social, economic and political issues
    economic growth/cooperation/development/reform

    2 (of a process, a business or an activity) producing enough profit to continue
    Synonym profitable
    Source: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com : economic
    economical
    adjective
    1 providing good service or value in relation to the amount of time or money spent
    an economical car to run (= one that does not use too much petrol/gas)
    2 using no more of something than is necessary
    an economical use of space
    3 not spending more money than necessary
    He was economical in all areas of his life.
    Source: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com : economical

    Also, this topic has been discussed before:
    economical or economic
    economic/economical
    economic/economical
    Guy, guys (age/sex/acceptability of?)
     
    Last edited:

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    For instance, because of less opportunities. What I mean by that is this kind of thing commonly makes me doubt everything that I know. I know it is not correct according to English grammar per se. But based on ambient speech, Americans around me frequently use that like I have less opportunities...~~~ instead of fewer opportunities. sorry for this rambling above.

    Anyhow, thank you for your comments!!
    I don't know how things are in your native language episteme. Unfortunately there are many English speakers who have never received a good education in their own language. You will find errors in speech and in writing (especially in social media on the internet).

    You have to make a decision. Learn the language used by educated people or use whatever you hear in the street. The choice is up to you! :)
     
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