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Fraction vs. Ratio — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 15, 2024
A fraction represents a part of a whole as a numerical value over another (e.g., 1/2), indicating division, while a ratio compares two quantities, showing how much of one exists relative to the other (e.g., 1:2).
Fraction vs. Ratio — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Fraction and Ratio


Key Differences

Fractions are numerical expressions that divide a whole into parts, typically represented with a numerator and a denominator, such as 1/2 or 3/4. Whereas, ratios express the relationship between two quantities, which could be parts of a whole or two separate entities, shown as 3:2 or 5:1.
When using fractions, the focus is often on internal division within a single entity, such as slicing a pizza into eight pieces and taking three. On the other hand, a ratio might compare the number of slices taken to the number of slices left, or relate quantities from different categories, like comparing the number of apples to oranges.
In mathematics, fractions are used for precise calculations involving parts of a whole, integral to operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. While, ratios are crucial for understanding proportions and relationships, such as in recipes or maps, and are used to solve problems involving rates or densities.
Fractions can be converted into decimals, showing another form of expressing part of a whole (e.g., 1/2 becomes 0.5). Whereas, ratios can often be scaled up or down while maintaining the same proportion (e.g., a 1:2 ratio is equivalent to 2:4 or 3:6).
In everyday language, fractions are commonly used to describe partial quantities directly, like in measurements for cooking or stating a probability. In contrast, ratios often describe relative frequencies, such as odds in betting or the concentration of a solution.

Comparison Chart


A way to express a part of a whole using two integers.
A comparison of two quantities by division.


Numerator over denominator (e.g., 3/4).
Two numbers separated by a colon (e.g., 3:4).


Calculations involving parts of a whole.
Comparing different quantities or the same quantity.

Mathematical Operations

Used in all basic arithmetic operations.
Used to maintain proportionality and scale.

Real-life Example

Used in recipes for measuring ingredients.
Used to compare the number of males to females in a room.

Compare with Definitions


Part of a whole divided into equal parts.
Cutting a cake into 8 equal pieces and taking 3 gives a fraction of 3/8 of the cake.


Scalable without changing the proportion.
Doubling the ingredients in a recipe keeps the ratios the same.


Integral in mathematical calculations.
The equation requires adding fractions 1/4 and 3/4.


Useful in various applications from cooking to science.
The chemical solution requires a ratio of 2:1 of hydrogen to oxygen.


Often visualized in pie charts or similar diagrams.
The budget allocation was shown in fractions in the pie chart.


Compares two quantities showing their relationship.
The ratio of students to teachers in the school is 20:1.


Used in everyday measurements.
She drank 1/2 liter of water.


Common in statistics and probability.
The ratio of successful outcomes to total trials was 1:5.


Can be expressed as a decimal for convenience.
The fraction 3/5 is equivalent to 0.6.


Used to describe mixes or blends.
The paint mixture uses a ratio of 1 part blue to 3 parts white.


(Mathematics) An expression that indicates the quotient of two quantities, such as 1/3 .


In mathematics, a ratio indicates how many times one number contains another. For example, if there are eight oranges and six lemons in a bowl of fruit, then the ratio of oranges to lemons is eight to six (that is, 8∶6, which is equivalent to the ratio 4∶3).


A disconnected piece; a fragment.


The quantitative relation between two amounts showing the number of times one value contains or is contained within the other
The ratio of men's jobs to women's is 8 to 1


A small part; a bit
Moved a fraction of a step.


Relation in degree or number between two similar things.


A chemical component separated by fractionation.


The relative value of silver and gold in a currency system that is bimetallic.


A part of a whole, especially a comparatively small part.


(Mathematics) A relationship between two quantities, normally expressed as the quotient of one divided by the other; for example, the ratio of 7 to 4 can be written 7:4 or 7/4. A ratio can often also be expressed as a decimal or percentage.


(arithmetic) A ratio of two numbers (numerator and denominator), usually written one above the other and separated by a horizontal bar called the vinculum or, alternatively, in sequence on the same line and separated by a solidus (diagonal bar).


A number representing a comparison between two named things.


(chemistry) A component of a mixture, separated by fractionation.


(arithmetic) The relative magnitudes of two quantities (usually expressed as a quotient).


(Christianity) In a eucharistic service, the breaking of the host.


(legal) ratio decidendi


A small amount.


(Internet) The number of comments to a post or other expression on social media relative to the number of likes; a high ratio suggests disagreement with the contents of the original post.


(archaic) The act of breaking, or state of being broken, especially by violence.


To respond to a post or message on social media in a greater number than the number of likes the post receives, especially to condemn or mock the original poster.
The politician's post was quickly ratioed due to its controversial nature.


To divide or break into fractions.


Indicates disagreement with a post the user disagrees with or dislikes.
L + ratio


The act of breaking, or state of being broken, especially by violence.
Neither can the natural body of Christ be subject to any fraction or breaking up.


The relation which one quantity or magnitude has to another of the same kind. It is expressed by the quotient of the division of the first by the second; thus, the ratio of 3 to 6 is expressed by


A portion; a fragment.
Some niggard fractions of an hour.


Hence, fixed relation of number, quantity, or degree; rate; proportion; as, the ratio of representation in Congress.


One or more aliquot parts of a unit or whole number; an expression for a definite portion of a unit or magnitude.


The relative magnitudes of two quantities (usually expressed as a quotient)


To separate by means of, or to subject to, fractional distillation or crystallization; to fractionate; - frequently used with out; as, to fraction out a certain grade of oil from pretroleum.


A component of a mixture that has been separated by a fractional process


A small part or item forming a piece of a whole


The quotient of two rational numbers


Perform a division;
Can you divide 49 by seven?

Common Curiosities

What is a fraction used for?

Fractions are used to represent and calculate parts of a whole in many areas of life and mathematics.

How is a ratio different from a fraction?

While both involve division, a fraction represents a part of a whole, whereas a ratio compares two separate or similar quantities.

Which is more common in everyday life, fractions or ratios?

Both are common, but fractions are often used in direct measurement, while ratios are used more in comparisons.

Are fractions or ratios more complex in usage?

Fractions can be seen as more complex due to their direct involvement in various arithmetic operations.

Can ratios be converted into fractions?

Yes, ratios can be expressed as fractions for purposes of calculation or simplification.

How do you simplify a fraction?

A fraction is simplified by dividing the numerator and the denominator by their greatest common divisor.

What is a practical example of using ratios?

Ratios are practical in cooking, such as when recipes need to be adjusted for more or fewer servings.

How can understanding fractions and ratios benefit students?

They help in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, particularly in proportional reasoning and practical applications.

What tools help with learning fractions and ratios?

Visual aids, manipulatives like fraction bars, and ratio tables are effective tools.

Why are ratios important in science?

Ratios help in understanding relationships and proportions in scientific formulas and experiments.

Can fractions and ratios be visualized?

Yes, both can be visualized using graphical representations like pie charts for fractions and bar charts for ratios.

Can fractions indicate more than one whole?

Yes, fractions like 3/2 represent more than one whole, often referred to as improper fractions.

How do fractions and ratios relate to percentages?

Both can be converted into percentages to represent parts of a hundred, useful in comparing different data sets.

Is there a formula for converting fractions to decimals?

To convert a fraction to a decimal, divide the numerator by the denominator.

What is an example of a ratio in finance?

Debt-to-income ratio is a common financial measure to assess an individual’s debt payment capacity relative to income.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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