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Relatively vs. Comparatively: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 7, 2023
"Relatively" is used to indicate that something is true or applicable in comparison to other things, while "comparatively" means in comparison to something else, often implying a degree of similarity.

Key Differences

Relatively is often used to describe something in proportion or in relation to something else without a direct comparison. Comparatively, on the other hand, implies a more direct comparison between two or more items or situations.
Relatively is used to express a certain level of comparison but is more about the relation within its own context. Comparatively directly measures or contrasts the degree of difference between two entities.
Relatively can have a more subjective tone, indicating a personal or situational perspective. Comparatively tends to be more objective, dealing with more measurable or observable differences.
Relatively often carries a connotation of being less exact and more about general perception. Comparatively suggests a more precise, calculated comparison, focusing on clear distinctions.
In language, relatively is used more broadly and can be applied in various contexts, while comparatively is often used in more specific, analytical contexts, particularly when discussing similarities or differences.

Comparison Chart


Indicates something in relation to others, without direct comparison
Direct comparison to something else

Context of Use

More general and can be subjective
Specific and tends to be more objective

Degree of Comparison

Less about exact measure, more about relation
More about measuring differences or similarities


Less exact, more about perception
Suggests precision and calculated comparison

Typical Usage

Broad usage across various contexts
Specific, analytical contexts

Example of Use

"She's relatively tall for her age."
"His performance was comparatively better this season."

Implied Precision

Less precise, more general
More precise and focused on details


Emphasis on relation within its context
Emphasis on distinct differences or similarities

Flexibility in Language

Can be used flexibly in many sentences
More limited to comparative structures

Relatively and Comparatively Definitions


To a certain degree, especially when compared with other things.
The test was relatively easy for her.


Indicating a comparison where one item or situation is measured against another.
The phone is comparatively more expensive than its competitors.


Indicating that something is comparatively appropriate.
The solution was relatively the best among the options.


Suggesting a certain characteristic in relation to an average or a standard.
The book is comparatively unknown in this region.


In proportion to something else.
The cost is relatively low considering the benefits.


Used to suggest that something is being judged against a previous state or another entity.
The climate is comparatively milder here.


In comparison with similar things or with what you expect.
She was relatively unaffected by the news.


To a moderate degree as compared to something else; relatively.
His grades were comparatively higher this semester.


Used to say that something is true or correct as far as it goes.
His answer was relatively correct.


Relating to, based on, or involving comparison.


In a relative manner; in comparison with something else
A relatively minor problem.


Of or relating to the scientific or historical comparison of different phenomena, institutions, or objects, such as languages, legal systems, or anatomical structures, in an effort to understand their origins or relationships.


Proportionally, in relation to some larger scale thing.
He measured his success relatively, that is, competitively.


Estimated by comparison; relative
A comparative newcomer.


He was relatively successful.


(Grammar) Of, relating to, or being the intermediate degree of comparison of adjectives, as better, sweeter, or more wonderful, or adverbs, as more softly.


In a relative manner; in relation or respect to something else; not absolutely.
Consider the absolute affections of any being as it is in itself, before you consider it relatively.


The comparative degree.


In a relative manner; by comparison to something else;
The situation is relatively calm now


An adjective or adverb expressing the comparative degree.


In a comparative manner.


When compared to other entities.


According to estimate made by comparison; relatively; not positively or absolutely.
With but comparatively few exceptions.


In a relative manner; by comparison to something else;
The situation is relatively calm now


In comparison with something else.
The process was comparatively faster than expected.


How is "comparatively" commonly used in a sentence?

Example: "The book is comparatively short for its genre."

What does "comparatively" mean?

"Comparatively" means to a degree that is comparative; it emphasizes the act of comparing one thing with another.

What does "relatively" mean?

"Relatively" means in relation or comparison to something else; it indicates a degree or extent that is considered in comparison to another.

Can "relatively" and "comparatively" be used interchangeably?

Sometimes, but not always. They can both compare two things, but "comparatively" emphasizes the act of comparison more.

Can "comparatively" stand alone in a sentence?

It usually requires a reference for what the comparison is being made to.

Is "relatively" used more in formal or informal contexts?

It is versatile and used in both formal and informal contexts.

Can "relatively" stand alone in a sentence?

Yes, it can stand alone without directly stating what the comparison is to.

Is "relatively" subjective?

Yes, it can be subjective, as it often depends on the speaker's perspective.

Is "comparatively" used more in formal or informal contexts?

It's more common in formal or academic contexts.

How is "relatively" commonly used in a sentence?

Example: "The test was relatively easy, compared to the last one."

Does "relatively" imply a direct comparison?

Not necessarily. "Relatively" often suggests a more implicit or indirect comparison.

Does "comparatively" imply a direct comparison?

Yes, "comparatively" is more likely to imply a direct or explicit comparison.

Can "comparatively" be used in a negative context?

Yes, such as in "The results were comparatively worse than expected."

What is a synonym for "relatively"?

A synonym is "comparatively," but also "somewhat" or "fairly."

Can "relatively" be used in a negative context?

Yes, for example, "He was relatively unsuccessful in his career."

Are there any common phrases using "relatively"?

Yes, like "relatively speaking" or "relatively unknown."

Is "comparatively" subjective?

It can be, though it often suggests a more objective comparison based on measurable factors.

Can "comparatively" imply a contrast?

Yes, especially when used to highlight differences between two things.

Can "relatively" imply a contrast?

Yes, it often sets up a contrast by comparing something to a general standard or expectation.

What is a synonym for "comparatively"?

A synonym is "relatively," but also "in comparison" or "by comparison."
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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