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Monday, May 2, 2016

EwR Vocabulary - Word Comparison - Relationship versus Relation (Part I)


What is the difference between the words RELATIONSHIP and RELATION?

These two words are often confusing, not only for second language learners, but also for native speakers, as well. The meaning of the word “relationship” is addressed in this article for today; and next week you will learn about the word “relation” in another separate article. After reading these two articles, you will understand why these words are often confusing.

Let’s start with the word “relationship”. This word has five different possible usages. Alternate words and expressions for the word “relationship” include the following: (1) family ties; (2) romantic or sexual affair; (3) mutual business dealings; (4) human relatedness; and (5) the connecting link between two people (which is not necessarily that of kindship or of a blood relative), things or concepts.

First of all, a relationship can refer to a human kindship among people who are family members (e.g., a relative).

Example: The relationship between a mother and her child is very important for the child’s development.
Practice: What is your relationship like with your brothers and sisters right now?

Secondly, if you are talking about a romance, or an emotional or sexual connection between two people, this is also known as a relationship.

Example: The man didn’t want his wife to know that he was having a relationship with another woman.
Practice: Do you think that more men or more women in your society have extramarital relationships?

Third of all, the word “relationship” is also used when you talk about mutual business dealings between two different people, companies or countries.

Example: Contracts are often used to demonstrate that two companies want to form a legal business relationship.
Practice: Does the company that you work for have a relationship with any foreign companies?

Fourthly, the connection between people that is based on blood, marriage or adoption, also refers to a relationship.

Example: The relationship that these two children have together is that of brother and sister.
Practice: Is the relationship that you have with your brothers and sisters a natural one, or were you adopted?

And lastly, the usage of the word “relationship” is also associated with the linking or connectedness among things or ideas, or even people who are not related to you, such as friends, acquaintances or strangers.

Example: The relationship between money and power is evident in today’s society.
Practice: Do you think there is a relationship between wealth and fiscal paradises?

Example: I have a very good relationship with all of my colleagues at work.
Practice: Do you think that it is important to avoid a relationship with someone who is always negative?

In conclusion, if you are speaking about a “relationship”, then you are making a human connection to a blood relative, or some other person in which you have some kind of personal or professional connection; for example, a sexual partner, a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, or a business associate. However, you can also refer to a relationship among things, concepts or ideas which are not human connections.

Think about the different usages of the word “relationship” as mentioned above.  Study the examples and practice questions above in order to better understand the different meanings of what a "relationship" includes.

Then read the next article which will address the word “relation”.  Are these two words similar, different, or is there a correspondence between these two words?

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