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Words ending in -ic and -ical

Many adjectives end in -ic and -ical. It is not easy to say which form is correct in a particular case.

Some adjectives ending in -ic

Academic, artistic, athletic, catholic, domestic, dramatic, emphatic, energetic, fantastic, linguistic, majestic, neurotic, pathetic, phonetic, public, systematic, tragic

In older English, some of these words ended in -cal. Examples are: majestical, fantastical, tragical

Some adjectives ending in -ical

Biological, chemical, cynical, grammatical, logical, mathematical, mechanical, medical, musical, physical, radical, surgical, tactical, topical

Adjectives with both forms

A few adjectives can have both forms with no significant difference in meaning.

Examples are:
algebraic or algebraical
arithmetic or arithmetical
egoistic or egoistical
fanatic or fanatical
geometric or geometrical
strategic or strategical

Difference of meaning

Some adjectives can have both forms, but there is usually a difference of meaning.

Classic and classical

Classic refers to a famous example of its kind.

A classic French wine
A classic event

Classical refers to the best art and literature.

Classical studies
Classical music
Classical literature

Comic and comical

Comic means artistic comedy. Comical means funny.

Comic verse
Comic opera
A comical expression

Economic and economical

Economic means the science of economics. It may also refer to the economy of a country. Economical means 'not wasting money'.

Economic problems
An economical car

Electric and electrical

We use electric with the names of particular machines that work by electricity. Examples are: electric heater, electric train, electric blanket, electric oven etc.

Electrical is used before more general words. Examples are: electrical appliances, electrical engineering etc.

Note: We say an electric shock, not an electrical shock

Politic and political

Politic means 'prudent'. Political means 'connected with politics'.

It was a very politic decision. (= wise decision)
A political party
Political career


Complete the following.

1. She is interested in learning ------------------- languages.

a) classic b) classical

2. We are looking for an -------------------- housekeeper.

a) economic b) economical

3. The government does not do anything to solve the ------------------ problems plaguing the country.

a) economic b) economical

4. She had a --------------------- expression on her face.

a) comic b) comical

5. There are many --------------------- buildings in Mumbai.

a) historic b) historical

6. I am reading a --------------------- novel at the moment.

a) historic b) historical

7. It was a ---------------------- experience.

a) magical b) magic

8. That scandal almost destroyed his ----------------------- career.

a) political b) politics


1. She is interested in learning classical languages.

2. We are looking for an economical housekeeper.

3. The government does not do anything to solve the economic problems plaguing the country.

4. She had a comical expression on her face.

5. There are many historic buildings in Mumbai.

6. I am reading a historical novel at the moment.

7. It was a magical experience.

8. That scandal almost destroyed his political career.

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Sections In This Article
Difference between do and make
Common Difference between Yes and No New!
Common Difference between Whose and Who's New!
Common Difference between Why and Why not New!
Common Difference between Would and Used to New!
Common Difference between When and If New!
Common Difference between In the Way and On the Way New!



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