Difference Between
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Practical vs. Theoretical: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Practical refers to skills or knowledge that are useful in real situations, while Theoretical involves ideas and principles studied for their own sake, often without immediate application.
Practical vs. Theoretical

Key Differences

Practical refers to the aspect of understanding or knowledge that is concerned with the actual application or use of ideas, focusing on real-world implementation and effectiveness. It often involves hands-on experience and skills that are applicable in everyday situations. Theoretical, on the other hand, pertains to concepts and ideas that exist mainly in thought or as part of a theory, often lacking direct application to everyday life. Theoretical knowledge tends to be more abstract, focusing on the underlying principles or laws governing phenomena.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
In education, practical learning emphasizes skill-based training and experiential learning, where students engage directly with the materials or processes they are studying. This approach is often seen in fields like engineering, medicine, and culinary arts, where hands-on practice is crucial. Theoretical learning, in contrast, involves studying and understanding the principles, concepts, and ideas that form the foundation of a subject. It is more prominent in disciplines like mathematics, philosophy, and theoretical physics, where abstract reasoning and conceptual understanding are key.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
A practical approach is often characterized by its problem-solving nature, focusing on finding tangible solutions to real-world challenges. It values efficiency, applicability, and results-oriented strategies. Theoretical approaches, however, prioritize the development and testing of hypotheses, models, and theories, valuing depth of understanding, analytical thinking, and comprehensive explanation over immediate applicability.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
In a work environment, practical skills refer to the ability to perform specific tasks effectively and efficiently, often requiring a certain level of technical or hands-on expertise. These skills are crucial for day-to-day operations in various industries. Theoretical knowledge in a professional context involves understanding the principles and theories behind why certain methods or processes work, providing a foundation for informed decision-making and strategy development.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
In summary, practical and theoretical represent two different but complementary approaches to knowledge and learning. While practical aspects focus on the application and functionality in real-world scenarios, offering hands-on experience and direct applicability, theoretical aspects concentrate on the abstract, conceptual understanding and principles underlying various phenomena. Both are essential in their own right and often work best when combined, offering a more holistic understanding and approach in various fields of study and professional practices.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
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Practical and Theoretical Definitions

Practical

Concerned with actual use or practice
She offered practical solutions to the problem.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Theoretical

Based on theory, not practical application
His theoretical knowledge of physics was profound.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Practical

Useful in real situations
The course provided practical training in carpentry.
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Nov 11, 2023

Theoretical

Involving abstract reasoning
Theoretical models often simplify complex phenomena.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Practical

Related to action rather than thought
The device was designed for practical use.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
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Theoretical

Speculative or hypothetical
Theoretical discussions about time travel are intriguing.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Practical

Of, relating to, governed by, or acquired through practice or action, rather than theory or speculation
Gained practical experience of sailing as a deck hand.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Not practical or applied
Her research remained mostly theoretical.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Practical

Manifested in or involving practice
Practical applications of calculus.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Concerned with the general principles
He taught theoretical mathematics at the university.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023
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Practical

Capable of or suitable to being used or put into effect; useful
Practical knowledge of Japanese. See Usage Note at practicable.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Of, relating to, or based on theory.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Concerned with the production or operation of something useful
Woodworking is a practical art.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Restricted to theory; not practical or applied
Theoretical physics.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Having or showing good judgment; sensible
If we're practical, we can do the job quickly.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Studying or working to develop theory.
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Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Being actually so in almost every respect; virtual
The snowstorm was a practical disaster.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Of or relating to theory; abstract; not empirical.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Relating to, or based on, practice or action rather than theory or hypothesis.
Jack didn't get an engineering degree, but has practical knowledge of metalworking.
Modern engineering applies science to practical problems.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Concerned primarily with theories or hypotheses rather than practical considerations;
Theoretical science
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Being likely to be effective and applicable to a real situation; able to be put to use
Jack's knowledge has the practical benefit of giving us useful prototype parts.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Concerned with theories rather than their practical applications;
Theoretical physics
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Of a person, having skills or knowledge that are practical
All in all, Jack's a very practical chap.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Theoretical

Based on specialized theory;
A theoretical analysis
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Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Of a prop: having some degree of functionality, rather than being a mere imitation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

(film) Light fixtures used for set lighting and seen in the frame of a shot as part of the scenery.
Practical lighting can help sell the illusion that the film is a real situation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

(British) A part of an exam or series of exams in which the candidate has to demonstrate their practical ability
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

(theater) A prop that has some degree of functionality, rather than being a mere imitation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

(film) A light fixture used for set lighting and seen in the frame of a shot as part of the scenery.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Laboratory experiment, test or investigation
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Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Of or pertaining to practice or action.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Capable of being turned to use or account; useful, in distinction from ideal or theoretical; as, practical chemistry.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Evincing practice or skill; capable of applying knowledge to some useful end; as, a practical man; a practical mind.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Derived from practice; as, practical skill.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Concerned with actual use or practice;
He is a very practical person
The idea had no practical application
A practical knowledge of Japanese
Woodworking is a practical art
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Guided by practical experience and observation rather than theory;
A hardheaded appraisal of our position
A hard-nosed labor leader
Completely practical in his approach to business
Not ideology but pragmatic politics
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Being actually such in almost every respect;
A practical failure
The once elegant temple lay in virtual ruin
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Having or put to a practical purpose or use;
Practical mathematics
Practical applications of calculus
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Practical

Focusing on experience rather than theory
His practical knowledge of farming was invaluable.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Practical

Realistic and sensible
Her practical approach to budgeting saved money.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Do theoretical studies lead to practical applications?

Sometimes, as theoretical groundwork can inspire practical innovations.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Define theoretical.

Based on theory or ideas, often without immediate practical use.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

What does practical mean?

Focused on real-world use and application.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Is practical learning better than theoretical?

Depends on the context; both have their unique strengths and applications.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Can a hobby be practical?

Absolutely, if it involves hands-on skills or useful activities.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Is practical knowledge always skill-based?

Often, but it can also include realistic understanding or approaches.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Are theoretical subjects less valuable?

Not at all; they're essential for deepening understanding and advancing knowledge.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Can theoretical knowledge be applied?

Yes, often in fields like science and engineering.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Can something be both practical and theoretical?

Yes, some concepts or skills bridge both, like theoretical physics applied in technology.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Can I have a theoretical approach to a practical problem?

Yes, by applying abstract principles or models to find solutions.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Do theoretical frameworks guide research?

Yes, they provide foundational concepts and directions.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Is practical intelligence the same as common sense?

They overlap, but practical intelligence is often more skill-focused.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Why is practical experience important?

It provides hands-on skills and real-world understanding.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

How does theoretical learning stimulate the mind?

It encourages abstract thinking and problem-solving.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

How does practical knowledge benefit careers?

It equips individuals with direct skills and experience relevant to specific jobs.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Are all scientists theoretical?

No, many work in practical, experimental, or applied science fields.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Is practical learning more engaging?

It can be, especially for those who prefer hands-on activities.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Can I learn a language practically?

Yes, through conversation and immersion rather than just studying grammar.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Does practical work require theory?

Often, as theory can provide a foundation for practical tasks.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 11, 2023

Are theoretical courses difficult?

They can be challenging, especially in understanding abstract concepts.
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Nov 11, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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