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Electric or electrical?

LightningElectric is usually used before the name of a specific appliance: an electric drill, an electric iron, an electric toothbrush, an electric shaver. Your car may have electric windows, and if you drive an electric car, it is powered by an electric motor. You may play the electric guitar, but you may get an electric shock from the electric current if you play with wet hands. The electric light was a great invention, but the same can’t be said of the electric chair. An atmosphere can also be electric – very tense and exciting. Your words may have an electric effect on others, leaving them shocked and excited.

Electrical, however, is used when you’re talking about more general categories of objects or more abstract things: electrical equipmentelectrical goods, electrical productselectrical applianceselectrical components, electrical machinery. The part of the shop where you buy electrical goods is the electrical department. We also talk about electrical energy, the electrical industryelectrical signals, and electrical impulses. If you’re involved with electricity as a profession, you may be an electrical engineer (although for simpler work, you’re more likely to be an electrician).

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

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