Practical vs. Practicable

A Peanut Gallery question was received today from Don in Texas:
“I tend to get confused when trying to decide whether I should use ‘practical’ or ‘practicable.’ What advice does the Guru have for

Practical means relating to a practice or action, rather than a theory; useful or able to be put to use or put in practice. Practical applies to persons and things and implies proven success in actual use. Use this in employee reviews.

Some PetroTechs are practical engineers, although they have no engineering degree.
He has a practical knowledge of Spanish because his grandmother was Mexican.

Practicable means feasible, doable, or capable of being done, but has only been proposed and has not yet been tested or put into use. Practicable applies to plans, not people or things. Use this in field development plans.

Steamflooding is not practicable at depths greater than 3,000 ft unless you have a downhole steam generator.

Here’s a good way to think about the antonyms, impractical and impracticable.
“Something impractical is not smart or efficient, but something impracticable is just plain impossible to do.”

Profound Quote of the Day:
“The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.”
– Eric Hoffer, American philosopher and writer, 1902-1983, Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded in 1983 by Ronald Reagan


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