‘Analogous’ vs. ‘analogical’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

These two words are a common source of mistakes. The word you will need most of the time is “analogous”, as in

The example is analogous to the one we did last time. (correct)
The example is analogical to the one we did last time. (wrong)
Those two questions are analogous. (correct)
Those two questions are analogical. (probably wrong)

Analogous means “similar, comparable in some way”. “Analogical”, on the other hand, means “related to or based on analogy”. For example,

Roman lawyers had already used analogical reasoning. (correct)
Roman lawyers had already used analogous reasoning. (wrong?)

“Analogical” in the first sentence refers to analogies Roman lawyers used in their reasoning. The latter sentence would only make sense if we had spoken about another kind of reasoning before and wanted to express that Roman lawyers used reasoning analogous (similar) to the one already mentioned.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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