As you know, "ratio" is a relationship between two groups or amounts that expresses how much bigger one is than the other. While "proportion" is the number or amount of a group or part of something when compared to the whole.

I know it may sound quite distinguishable to you native speakers, but it is somehow vague to me as a non-native individual. I wonder if you do me a favor and let me know what structure is used in each sentence below:

  1. Everyone can spend money ........ his/her income.

a. in proportion to
b. in ratio of

  1. The .......... of men to women in the conference was 10 to 1.

a. proportion
b. ratio

  1. The income you earn in this job is in direct ........... to the effort you put in.

a. proportion
b. ratio

  1. His feet are small in .......... to his weight.

a. proportion
b. ratio


As a non-native speaker of English, these sentences sound okay to me (slightly different than yours):

  1. Not everyone spends money in proportion to their income.
  2. The ratio of men to women at the conference was 10 to 1.
  3. The money you earn is in direct proportion to the effort you put in.
  4. His feet are small in proportion to his height.
  • As a non-native speaker too, I have to note that proportion and ratio are often countable nouns, so articles are required then. – Michael Login Aug 6 '19 at 15:01
  • @MvLog Not here, though, since we aren't talking about specific proportions. In (direct) proportion to is pretty much an established phrase. – userr2684291 Aug 6 '19 at 15:06
  • Sure, but ratio is always a countable noun. Proportion is countable when it means "part" — A propotion of XXX has increased... – Michael Login Aug 6 '19 at 15:14

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