Dramatically vs. Drastically

This morning we got an interesting question from a Snapchat viewer:

I immediately thought of the word “drastically” and how we often use the two words interchangeably…after reading into it a bit, I found out there is actually a difference between “dramatically” and “drastically” (thanks to this website):

These two words are not usually interchangeable. They do not mean the same thing.

Drastic means severe or serious. It implies something negative–that is its connotation, or the feel of the word.

In a sentence, you might say: “His sprained ankle caused a drastic reduction in his ability to run.”

Drastic implies something bad.

Dramatic means sudden or extreme. Things that are dramatic do not need to be negative–the word does not have that connotation.

Thus, in a sentence, dramatic might be used as, “Her new haircut was a dramatic change–which suited her.”

In this sentence, dramatic implies big.

Sometimes things can be both drastic and dramatic:

“The 50-degree drop in temperature was both dramatic and drastic.”  The change was both sudden and severe, so it was drastic and dramatic.

Still unsure of which to use?

If you can substitute the word bad where you’d use either drastic or dramatic, you should use drastic. If you can substitute the word big, use dramatic. 


With regard to the email, I would say that “dramatically reduce” means “reduce by a great deal” — so, if you want to say “by a great deal” / by a lot / in a big way, then go with “dramatically.”

Another example:  The artist saw a dramatic increase in the number of paintings sold.

Another:  Sales went up dramatically.

Hope this helps!


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