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Relation vs Relationship


  • ‘Relation’ (noun) refers to the way in which two or more people, organizations, countries, etc, are connected.
  • ‘Relationship’ (noun) refers to the way in which two or more things or factors are connected or influencing each other.

What’s the difference between ‘relation’ and ‘relationship’?

These two words are very similar in meaning, with much overlap in usage. But they have different connotations:

  • ‘Relations’ tends to be more formal, and used when describing interactions between countries or large groups of people (e.g. relations between China and the US, relations between Hispanic and Asian populations).
  • ‘Relationship’ is more versatile and very commonly used when reporting statistical findings in research papers, for instance.

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How they’re used

Example sentences with ‘relation’

  • This study investigates power relations between Japanese and US governments in the 21st century.
  • Economic relations between EU countries are discussed in Section 2.

Example sentences with ‘relationship’

  • The intimate relationship between language and culture was shown in our survey.
  • No significant relationship was found between cognitive abilities and executive functioning.