X vs. X-al adjectives (asymptotic vs asymptotical, etc.)

Right now I am writing a technical report, where I describe asymptotic(al) curves, expansions etc. My understanding after a bit of web browsing is that asymptotic and asymptotical are near-synonymous but the former is much more common (please correct me if I am wrong), so I will replace all instances of asymptotical by asymptotic. Is … Read more

electrical equipment vs electric car

Both of these things run on electricity. I can’t figure out why electrical equipment can’t be electric equipment? Even after some research, I can’t give the proper answer. Answer The US legal definitions website defines electrical equipment as any apparatus, device, integral component, or integral part used in an activity which is electrically, electronically, mechanically, … Read more

logic/logical, arithmetic/arithmetical operators

Is it logic operators or logical operators / arithmetic operators or arithmetical operators. I’d expect both cases to be the same (either have the al suffix or not), and I usually check Google when I”m not sure, but in this case I’m not getting consistent results: logic operators: 77k results logical operators: 343k results arithmetic … Read more

Fantastic and fantastical

In my own idiolect, “fantastic” can mean “having fantasy elements” or, metaphorically, “very good,” while “fantastical” can only have the literal sense. So, for instance, a fairy tale might be “fantastic” or “fantastical,” with the latter likely being preferred, but a very good meal could only be described as “fantastic.” To my surprise, dictionary.com does … Read more

Are words like “heroical” and “empirical” morphologically redundant?

According to the big Oxford and the online dictionary, the following pairs are concurrent: heroic and heroical; empiric and empirical Aren’t the second forms morphologically redundant? Heroic already is an adjective, so why would it need the suffix -al to form the same adjective? Answer They’re not redundant; just a matter of choice… I’ve read … Read more

Adjective usage of ‘mystic’ vs ‘mystical’

I have been checking the differences in dictionaries and forums and I cannot find any final conclusion. I get that: Mystic/Mystical are both valid adjectives Mystic is the only one that can be used as a noun But I’d like to know if the usage and feeling you get from "a mystic/mystical person" vs "a … Read more

Difference between ‘acoustic’ and ‘acoustical’

“Acoustic” and “acoustical” are both used as adjectives, and both are used often in combinations such as “acoustical engineering”, “acoustic energy”, “acoustic model”, etcetera. Some of these combinations sound better than others, e.g. “acoustical energy” sounds wrong to me, but that may be purely subjective. Is there any difference in meaning between the words? Or … Read more

“metaphoric” versus “metaphorical”

Is there a difference between the words “metaphoric” and “metaphorical”? I’m reading an essay in which “metaphoric” is used. But that sounded a little odd to me. “Metaphorical” sounds better. They’re both in the dictionary. Answer There is no difference between metaphoric and metaphorical, but you are right, metaphorical is more commonly used. This ngram … Read more

The use of the suffix -al in adjectives

As a non- native speaker of English, I often find myself struggling with the usage of the suffix -al in adjectives. For instance, what’s the difference between the words “historic” and “historical”, “metaphoric” and “metaphorical”, etc? Are there any rules as far as this suffix is concerned? Answer There is no system in adjectives with … Read more

Hyperbolic vs Hyperbolical

I just looked up the word “hyperbolic” in the 3rd edition of “The New Oxford American Dictionary”, and the second definition says “(of language) exaggerated; hyperbolical.” When I go to hyperbolical, it says that is the adjective form of hyperbole. Which is the more correct term to use? I have heard hyperbolic a few times, … Read more