Quantitative and Qualitative Data

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
Qualitative information (from quality) is a description of a trait that can be observed but not measured. For example:
  • The branch smells rotten.
Quantitative information (from quantity) gives the number for something that can be measured. For example:
  • The branch is 4 inches thick.

What Is the Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative?

Qualitative data describes features, traits, or qualities that are not measured on numerical scales. Quantitative data deals with numbers (i.e., things that can be measured and counted).


The adjective qualitative comes from the noun quality. It is commonly used to describe the words data or information. 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.
Qualitative information describes a feature.


The adjective quantitative comes from the noun quantity. It is commonly used to describe the words data, information, or evidence. 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.

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.

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