Quantitative or Qualitative?

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Quantitative" and "Qualitative"?

"Quantitative" and "qualitative" are easy to confuse. "Quantitative" is used with numbers, and "qualitative" is used for features or qualities.
  • Quantitative. Quantitative information (from "quantity") tells us the number for something that can be measured. For example:
    • The branch is 4 inches thick.
    • John weighs 90kg.
  • Qualitative. Qualitative information (from "quality") tells us about a trait that can be observed but not measured. For example:
    • The branch smells rotten.
    • John is happy.
quantitative and qualitative explained

More about "Qualitative" and "Quantitative"


The adjective "quantitative" comes from the noun "quantity." It is commonly used to describe the words "data," "information," "evidence," and "research." Quantitative information deals with numbers. It gives the quantity of something that can be measured (e.g., age, area, height, speed, temperature, time, volume, width). For example:
  • The team has 7 players.
  • The leaf weighs 2 ounces.
  • The river is 25 miles long.
Put simply, quantitative information tells us about a quantity.


The adjective "qualitative" comes from the noun "quality." It is commonly used to describe the words "data," "information," and "research." Qualitative information is a description of a trait that can be observed but not measured. For example:
  • The team is well prepared.
  • The leaf feels waxy.
  • The river is peaceful.
Put simply, qualitative information tells us about a quality.

Qualitative versus Quantitative Data

ItemQualitative DataQuantitative Data
  • He is friendly.
  • He smells like popcorn.
  • His coat is beautifully groomed.
  • He is three years old.
  • He weighs 15 kilograms.
  • His temperature is normal.
  • (Note: This is quantitative data because it can be measured to attain a numerical result.)
  • It is regal.
  • It is smooth.
  • It invokes serenity.
  • It costs $200,000.
  • It is over 500 years old.
  • It is 25 inches tall.
  • Converting Qualitative Information to Quantitative Information

    Analyzing qualitative information can be difficult because the descriptions are often subjective (i.e., a matter of personal opinion), and this makes it hard to do comparisons. As a result, qualitative information is not always useful for decision-making or identifying trends.

    To make qualitative information easier to work with, it can be converted into quantitative information, a process which involves turning descriptions into numbers.
    pain scale qualitative data
    This chart is often used by doctors to put a value to terms such as an "achy pain" or a "piercing pain." Allocating a number to a pain level allows a comparison with previous visits.
    Converting qualitative information to quantitative information can usually be done with a bit of thought. For example, the qualitative statement "Users could not find the 'Check Out Now' button" could easily be converted to the quantitative statement "40% of users did not find the 'Check Out Now' button." This allows improvements to be made and results to be analyzed.

    Ready for the Test?

    Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

    • Do you disagree with something on this page?
    • Did you spot a typo?

    Find Us Quicker!

    • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.

    See Also

    adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? Amount, quantity, and number List of easily confused words