'Economic' or 'Economical'? What Is the Difference? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 4 February 2024)

'Economic' or 'Economical'? What Is the Difference?

Economic or Economical: What Is the Difference?

Economic and economical are two adjectives that are commonly confused. Although they look similar to each other, their meanings are completely different. This blog post will help you get it right.

The Difference between Economic and Economical

Let's start with economicalEconomical means 'not using a lot of money' or 'not wasteful':

It is usually more economical to buy goods in bulk.

My wife is always economical with purchases and saves our family a lot of money.

This car looks nice but is not very economical on fuel.

Typically, people misuse economical in situations calling for economicEconomic means 'concerning the economy':

The economic future of the country depends on the tourists coming back.
The economical future of the country depends on the tourists coming back.

There was widespread criticism of the government's economic policy.
There was widespread criticism of the government's economical policy.

It is anticipated that the country will experience a decrease in economic growth.
It is anticipated that the country will experience a decrease in economical growth.

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Examples from the Media

Whilst the average cost of raising a child from pregnancy to 18 years old is just over £200,000, we are conscious that the reality for many families is not to spend the average on various items, and due to the rising cost of living will opt for more economical choices. —Daily Mail (2022)

"I'm already looking a lot more for special offers," said Myriam Maierhofer, a 64-year-old trainer and coach for staff development. "I don't throw away so much so quickly, so I've become more economical with food. And this morning, I also turned down the heating in the rooms again." —Toronto Star (2022)

There is a real risk that both the Chinese and US economies could be moving into a period of underperformance. This would clearly be bad news for global economic activity but it would also require a sea change in market pricing. —South China Morning Post (2022)

The head of the European Central Bank says the economic outlook "is darkening" and she expects business activity to "slow substantially" in the coming months as high energy and food prices curb spending power. —The Washington Post (2022)


Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.

1. We want to buy a car that's smaller and more economic/economical

2. The new policy will improve the economic/economical outlook of the country.

3. John's company is facing an economic/economical crisis at the moment.

4. We can cut costs by adopting an economic/economical lifestyle.

5. We've got many great ideas for economic/economical housekeeping.

6. Hong Kong continues to experience drastic changes in terms of its demographic, economic/economical, and social development.

Answer Key

1. economical    2. economic    3. economic    4. economical    5. economical    6. economic

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