Skip to content


Grammarflex logo

Is it Rational or Rationale?

Rational is an adjective that describes someone or something as sensible or reasonable. Rationale is a noun that refers to a set of reasons or logic behind something.

Last updated on February 12th, 2024 at 08:06 pm

“Rational” vs. “rationale”

When is it correct to use rational or rationale? If you’ve been using rational and rationale interchangeably, then let this post clarify why you shouldn’t. Despite the one letter difference, rational and rationale are pronounced differently and belong to different parts of speech: rationale being a noun and rational an adjective, for the most part. Here’s a guide on how to use both.

Sentences with rationaleSentences with rational

The rationale behind the new policy is to improve employee productivity and work-life balance.

The CEO presented a compelling rationale for the company’s expansion into new markets.
Human beings are rational creatures.

Rational people tend to weigh the pros and cons before making important decisions.

Rational or rationale

  • Rational is an adjective or describing word that means “based on or in accordance with reason or logic: I’m sure there’s a perfectly rational explanation.”

  • Rationale is a noun that means “a set of reasons or a logical basis for a course of action or a particular belief: He explained the rationale behind the change.”

In short, we use rational to describe someone or something as logical or sensible. A rationale means something different: it’s an abstract noun that points to a set of reasons or logic behind something, like a policy or a certain course of action.

Sentence examples with rational

It is important to approach complex problems with a rational mindset rather than relying on emotions alone.

The scientist used rational analysis to explain the observed phenomena in the experiment.

In a rational society, decisions are made based on evidence and logical reasoning rather than superstition.

She made a rational choice by selecting the most cost-effective option for her budget.

Sentence examples with rationale

The school board explained the rationale for implementing a dress code to promote a more focused learning environment.

The government outlined the rationale for the tax reform, emphasizing its benefits for economic growth.

The rationale behind the decision to invest in renewable energy is to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

Synonyms of rational

  • logical
  • reasonable
  • cogent
  • coherent
  • judicious
  • well reasoned
  • sensible
  • shrewd
  • sagacious
  • intelligent
  • wise
  • prudent

Synonyms of rationale

  • grounds
  • theory
  • reasoning
  • logic
  • case
  • philosophy
  • hypothesis

Origin of rational

Late 14c., racional, “pertaining to or springing from reason;” mid-15c., of persons, “endowed with reason, having the power of reasoning,” from Old French racionel and directly from Latin rationalis “of or belonging to reason, reasonable,” from ratio (genitive rationis) “reckoning, calculation, reason”.

Origin of rationale

1650s, “exposition of principles,” from Late Latin rationale, noun use of neuter of Latin rationalis “of reason”.

Other commonly confused words


1. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of rationale.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 7 September, 2023.

2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of rational.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 7 September, 2023.

Recent Posts

What are literary devices?

10 Common Literary Devices to Know

From ancient epics to modern novels, literary devices play a crucial role in captivating readers’ imaginations and conveying themes, emotions and ideas. In this comprehensive

Labeled or labelled?

Is the Correct Spelling Labeled or Labelled?

Labeled and labelled are different spellings of the same word and action meaning, “to fix a label on something or write information on something”. Labelled