I know this is a dumb question but I have a question regarding a finance topic. What is the difference between multiples and ratios? I see them in one of my classes but I care more when this is brought up during interviews.

Context

EV / EBITDA is generally told as a multiple
Debt to equity (or EV or total capital) is generally told as a ratio

So what's the difference other than being a fraction?

Array

Both by definition are fractions. Most of the time, a multiple is greater than 1 and ratio comes out to be a % (and less than 1)

1) Multiple is also a ratio (in a sense that it has a numerator and a denominator) but instead of being commonly expressed as percentage e.g. 60% LTC it is expressed as e.g. 13.4x P/E (stock trades at 13.4 times its earnings)

2) Multiple is used for enterprise value (EV) such as e.g. EV/EBITDA or EV/Sales or earnings such as P/E and the main goal is to compare market/estimated value to an item on the financial statements; on the other hand, ratios are a much broader term used to describe comparisons between items on the financial statements (size of one relative to the other item) including any type of profitability, leverage and liquidity ratios. Hope this helps a bit.