Ratio vs Proportion: Difference and Comparison

Ratio and proportion are two terms that are used in mathematics that happen to be very crucial for every person regardless of their liking or disliking towards this particular subject.

Another very important reason to know about these two terms is that many people tend to get confused between these two and use them interchangeably while these two happen to be completely different from one another.

Key Takeaways

  1. A ratio is a comparison of two or more quantities, while a proportion is an equation that equates two ratios.
  2. Ratios can be expressed in different units, while proportions must have the same units on both sides of the equation.
  3. Ratios can be simplified, while proportions can be solved for a missing value.

Ratio vs Proportion 

The ratio is the relationship between two quantities expressed as a fraction or a quotient. For example, the ratio of the number of boys to the number of girls in a classroom can be expressed as “3:2” or “3/2”. Proportion is a statement that two ratios are equal. In other words, if two ratios are proportional, the relationship between the quantities they represent remains constant even when the quantities change.

Ratio vs Proportion

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A ratio can be explained as something that exists between two different quantities pertaining to a similar thing. For example, a person has three blue flowers and two red flowers. In this case, the ratio will be 2: 3.

This number here represents how many red flowers are present compared to the number of blue flowers. While making a ratio, one thing to be kept in mind is that the order should be mentioned very carefully, as it can change the whole equation. 

On the other hand, proportion happens to be a term that is used in mathematics when two ratios are said to be equal to one another. An example to understand this is supposed a ratio is one upon two while another ratio is 2 upon 4.

In this case, these two ratios are equal to one another as they refer to half of the whole quantity, so they can be said to be proportionate to one another. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonRatio Proportion  
Meaning  A mathematical concept that allows the user to compare two different quantities belonging to one similar thing or unit a mathematical concept that allows the user to compare two different ratios belonging to two different things 
Sign  Colon or: Double colon or:: 
Denoted as Parts of a total quantity An equal part of a different quantity 
Alternative symbol It can also be expressed by / It can also be expressed by = 
Nature  it happens to be an expression in nature  it happens to be an equation in nature 
Keyword used the used keyword for this concept is “is to” They used keyword for this concept is “in proportion to” 
Represents  It represents a numerical relationship between two different quantities it represents a numerical relationship between one quantity with respect to the whole quantity or between two ratios 

What is Ratio?

Ratio happens to be a term that is widely used and popular in the language of mathematics all across the world. There might be many ways to ask measuring the ratio for anything, but the fact remains that it happens to be a very crucial aspect of our daily life as it helps to simplify day-to-day things. 

A ratio shows how two different quantities related to one single thing are related to one another. Let us take an example of this. A person has a basket of fruits in which he has 10 mangoes and five apples, so the ratio of the two is 2 to 1, also expressed as 2 :1.

This shows how the mangoes are exactly double in quantity related to the apples. There are certain points that are necessary to be kept in mind while deriving a ratio of anything- 

  • While making a ratio, it is very important to take care of the order of the ratio. 
  • A single colon or a slash is used to describe the ratio between two quantities. 
  • In a ratio, the first number is called the antecedent, while the second is called the consequent. 

What is Proportion?

Defining proportion is like establishing equality between two quantities or ratios. If we say that the ratio of 2: 1 is equal to the ratio of 4: 2, we simply mean that these four numbers are in proportion to one another or are equal in quantity with respect to one another. 

Unlike a ratio, when we talk about proportion, we simply mean that the quantity is being measured with respect to the whole quantity of a particular thing available. This concept is denoted with signs like = or:: 

This can be explained with an example. There is a fruit basket having a ratio of 2: 4 of apples and mangoes, and another basket has a ratio of 4:8 of grapes and melons. Here these two ratios are in proportion as in both of these. The antecedent happens to be exactly half in quantity as compared to the consequent. 

The nature of this concept happens to be relatively an equation, and it represents a numerical relationship between one quantity with respect to the whole quantity or between two ratios. 


Main Differences Between Ratio and Proportion 

  1. A Ratio is a mathematical concept that allows the user to compare two different quantities belonging to one similar thing or unit, while a Proportion is a mathematical concept that allows the user to compare two different ratios belonging to two different things. 
  2. The ratio is expressed by a colon, while the proportion is expressed by a double colon. 
  3. The ratio has the nature of an expression, while proportion has the nature of an equation. 
  4. Ration shows how two different quantities are related to one another, while proportion shows how two ratios are similar to one another. 
  5. The ratio can also be expressed by the sign of slash, while proportion can also be expressed by the sign of equal to. 
Difference Between Ratio and Proportion


  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-349-03028-6_5 
  2. https://pubs.nctm.org/view/journals/jrme/24/1/article-p41.xml 
  3. https://pubs.nctm.org/view/journals/jrme/28/2/article-p216.xml  

Last Updated : 06 August, 2023

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