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Activity 5

Adjectives ending in ic/ical


Our biggest challenge as language instructors is how we could reach authenticity. We strive to simulate real-life situations in materials, tasks and exams. Sometimes, it is really hard to find resources that correspond to the language items and structures we teach. As a way out we either invent our own items or adapt some existing ones  in textbooks or dictionaries which do not always provide enough varied contexts. Concordancing is the solution as there is sufficient data to pick and choose from out there. Query any item and tens, maybe hundreds, of updated real-life contexts would come up. Following are corpus-based gap-filling exercises. Authentic examples are given first to clarify the difference in meaning between adjectives ending in -ic and -ical. An exercise testing the distinction in meaning follows. Then, collocations of these adjectives are tested.


Example 1:


  1. Read the following examples and guess the difference in meaning between ‘economic’ and ‘economical’:

    Sociologists agree that economic integration of the refugees poses a minor problem compared with the social aspect.     

    Cost effective, economical … cheap … do it the simple way, so it's cheap and we've got what it's made of concrete.


    -Economic    __________________

    -Economical  __________________


  3. Now complete the following texts with either of the above words:

    1. Mr Prokhorov said that the answer to the contradiction between political renewal and __________________ crisis lay in Marxism, which "teaches us that the superstructure is more mobile than the base, and that it is the first to react to a change of conditions."
    2. She was __________________ in her conversation.
    3. These developments have proved neither effective nor __________________.
    4. Strong stemming is an __________________ but crude way of automatically bringing in some of the halo of see also terms which surround many search words.
    5. The West German Finance Minister, Mr. Theo Waigel, ruled out a common German currency until __________________ reforms had been carried out in the East.
    6. The transition to a new __________________ system is proving difficult.




  1. Use the suitable word from the following to complete each of the following texts. Use each word only once: rights, example, life, aid, crisis, cost

    1. ABOUT 50,000 people packed Sofia's Alexander Nevesky Cathedral square yesterday to demand round-table talks between the Bulgarian Government and the new opposition grouping, the Union of Democratic Forces, to solve the country's economic and social _______________.
    2. The two litre size now--like I say once again--we're having problems with getting an economical _______________ for the bottle of this so our price is actually slightly higher than the other market price.
    3. A spokesman for the radical parliamentary organisation, the Inter-Regional Group (MRG), said that Mr. Gorbachev had also wanted the Praesidium to approve separate proposals curbing the republics' economic _______________.
    4. France is also obsessed by the German economic _______________ and has modelled its own planning on achieving parity.
    5. Moscow continues as the main Sandinista financier, pumping in about $465 million in economic _______________.
    6. Skin colour is losing its meaning as a factor in economic _______________.




Example 2:


  1. Read the following examples and guess the difference in meaning between ‘historic’ and ‘historical’:

    The Americans are clearly hoping that it will be possible to bring the Palestinians and Israelis around the negotiating table without confronting the contradictions and achieve an historic breakthrough.

    Three main themes are contained in the myth of Osiris, which are political, agricultural and ritual and which serve to explain and justify particular historical events and the growth of certain beliefs and practices.


    -historic    __________________

    -historical  __________________


  3. Now compete the following texts with either of the above words:


    1. From a ______________ point of view, the Czechoslovakian capital is one of Europe's more precious cities.
    2. Meanwhile, Chancellor Helmut Kohl yesterday described German longing for unity as an ______________ fact and said those trying to ignore it were making a serious mistake.
    3. In an ______________ decision to break with Moscow, the Lithuanian Communist Party voted yesterday to declare itself an independent party by more than 5 to 1, well above the two-thirds majority needed.
    4. This may not seem much in terms of Hong Kong's caseload of more than 40,000 Vietnamese, but set in a ______________ context it is an achievement.
    5. A delightful Grade 2 listed building of architectural and ______________ interest with a wealth of oak and elm panelled walls, beamed ceilings and large open fireplaces creating an intimate and homely atmosphere.
    6. Her love was always for her people, and the quotations from her ______________ speeches (which are not set to music) represent her carefully chosen communications to them.



  1. Use the suitable word from the following to complete each of the following texts. Use each word only once: cost, resorts, buildings, sites, role, sense, background


    1. Her Majesty was extremely surprised at first but then her artistic and historical ____________ was fired and she agreed.
    2. Exmoor meets the sea in rocky coves and, further east, there are historic ports and holiday ____________.
    3. The Gaullist RPR, which has played the leading historical ____________ in helping German postwar political recovery — while opposing any military revival — has given the most unequivocal welcome to the idea that Germany could again be one nation.
    4. I read the Bible over and over, then theological commentaries and historical ____________, books about heretics, books about enthusiasts.
    5. Anne Pennick in an essay on the tunnels of Glastonbury claims that larger tunnels follow ley lines (originally straight alignments of assorted ancient historic ____________, now credited to be on lines of mystic energy), and that they reflect the "mystery and sanctity attaching to places of paramount geomantic importance in the topographical interrelation of religious sites".
    6. If cost has been determined using FIFO, LIFO, weighted average cost or a similar method, and the difference between historical ____________ and replacement cost of stocks is material, this amount should be disclosed in a note to the accounts.








Adapted from Zuzana Šaffková and Vladislav Smolka’s activity: