Difference Between Rational and Rationale (With Table)

There are multiple words in the English language that are similar to each other in pronunciation and spelling but can change the entire meaning of a sentence. For example, rational and rationale both are three syllabus words but their pronunciation varies slightly from each other. Their use in the formation of a sentence is also different since one is an adjective and the other one is a noun. 

Rational vs Rationale

The difference between Rational and Rationale is that rational is used as an adjective in a sentence whereas rationale is used as a noun while forming a sentence. The word rational means someone’s capability to think in a clear state of mind and reach a logical conclusion. It can also mean providing a logical explanation for someone’s action. On the other hand, the word rationale means providing a set of legal documents or a briefing behind a course of action or a big plan. 

The word Rational is used in the English language since the 14th century.  It is an adjective that refers to the quality of thinking logically and providing a sane and reasonable explanation for a work of a decision. The synonyms of rational are wise, reasonable, logical, perceptive, etc.

The word Rationale is used in the English language since 1657 and it has its roots in the Latin language. It is a noun that is referred to both formal and informal sets of arguments or documents to support a big course of action or plans. The synonyms of rationale are reasoning, hypothesis, arguments, etc.

Comparison Table Between Rational and Rationale

Parameters of ComparisonRationalRationale
MeaningRational means someone’s ability to think clearly and provide a logical reason. Rationale means to provide a set of logical documents or reasons behind a big course of action. 
Part of speechRational is an adjective thus it can be used to describe a noun. Rationale is a noun and itself represents proper reasoning or documents. 
PronunciationRational is a three syllabus word and it is pronounced as rash-uh-null.Rationale is a three syllabus word and it is pronounced as rash-uh-nal. 
HistoryEnglish people started using the word Rational in the 14th century. The word Rationale has its roots in the Latin language but it started gaining popularity in the English language in 1657. 
UseA person is called rational when he/she seems to come to a logical conclusion and provides proper reasoning for it. One can present rationale either in form of legal documents or verbal reasoning depending on the profession. 
ExampleI am sure he has a perfectly rational explanation for what he did. The chief financial officer asked her to provide a rationale for the large expense plan. 

What is Rational?

 The word Rational is used as an adjective in a sentence. Though it is used in the English language since the 14th century, it is originally derived from the Latin word rationalis. The meaning of the word rational is to be logical and think from a sane state of mind and arrive at a reasonable conclusion. It is very commonly used in the English language to reflect the capabilities of a valid decision. 

The word Rational is used in various senses. Some of the examples of how it can be used in a sentence are given below.

  1. He shows the characteristics of a rational man.
  2. A rational analysis often leads to fruitful consequences. 
  3. 3/10 is a rational number.

In the first two examples, the word Rational is used in the sense of arriving at a logical decision or showing capabilities to take a wise decision. In the third example, the word Rational is used for describing a type of number that can be expressed in the form of p/q such that q is not equal to 0.

What is Rationale?

 The word Rationale is used as a noun in a sentence. Though it is used in the English language today and became popular in the mid-1600s, it is originally derived from Late Latin. The meaning of the word rationale is to produce a set of constructive arguments to support a course of action. It can be used to explain a hypothesis for a future course of events or a justification for something that happened in the past. 

Rationale is the representation of both formal and informal sets of arguments. For example, one can use the word when presenting a formal document as well as during giving verbal reasoning for events. Given below are some examples of how to use the word Rationale in a sentence:

  1. The judge asked the man to explain his rationale for stealing a car.
  2. A politician must always explain his rationale for his position.
  3. The rationale for raising the drinking age is prevention for reducing car accidents. 

Main Differences Between Rational and Rationale

  1. Rational means someone’s ability to think clearly and provide a logical reason whereas Rationale means to provide a set of logical documents or reasons behind a big course of action. 
  2. Rational is used as an adjective whereas Rationale is a noun.
  3. Rational is a three syllabus word and it is pronounced as rash-uh-null whereas Rationale is a three syllabus word and it is pronounced as rash-uh-nal. 
  4. English people started using the word Rational in the 14th century whereas Rationale has its roots in the Latin language but it started gaining popularity in the English language in 1657. 
  5. A person is called rational when he/she seems to come to a logical conclusion and provides proper reasoning for it. On the other hand, one can present rationale either in form of legal documents or verbal reasoning depending on the profession. 

Conclusion

It is important to clearly understand the difference between rational and rationale as the sentence formation will be wrong if these words are switched. For example, in the given sentence, “ Do you have a rational explanation for what you did?”, the word rational is the adjective/descriptive word. If the word is mistakenly switched with rationale then it becomes grammatically wrong. 

Apart from the meaning of these two words and which part of speech they represent, the pronunciation of both the words is also different. The word rational ends with the same pronunciation as that of “proportional” whereas the word rationale ends with the same pronunciation as that of “morale.” 

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/0-387-36274-6_29
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8157781/
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