Compare to versus Compare With

Written by on June 27, 2017 in blog, grammar, writing with 0 Comments

Compare to and Compare With

Some authors claim that compare to versus compare with is a useless argument–that they mean essentially the same thing, but this is not supported by actual data. The verb compare has several different meanings, some of which take the preposition “to”, while the others take “with”:

Compare A to B = to claim that A and B are similar.

Compare A withB to claim that A and B are different.

To compare with is mainly to point out differences between people or things. So if you want to point out differences use compare with.

The below examples will give you an idea of each. (I hope.)

apples and oranges

The above picture shows the well-known apples and oranges comparison (with a few other fruits thrown in). While they are both fruits, and they are round, and they both grow on trees, there are numerous differences, hence the saying that “You can’t compare apples to oranges.”In fact, Merriam-Webster likens it to comparing large trucks to compact cars.

If We’re Going to Compare to and Compare With, let’s Look at Another Example

President A was passive, thoughtful, and an excellent orator. He is often compared to President Lincoln, who exhibited many of the same traits.

Or…

President A was passive, thoughtful, and an excellent orator. Compare that with President B, who is antagonistic, impulsive, and needs a lot of help with his speeches.

So in the first example, we used President B to show how different the two were, and in the second example, we used President Lincoln to show how similar they were. Compare to versus compare with seems a little more complicated now.

Would people have known what you were talking about if you mixed them up? I’m sure they would. But there would also be a certain percentage of those people who would recognize that you did mix them up.

It’s important to note, though, that the differences between compare to and compare with are largely ignored; in fact, common usage statistics show that in the US, compare to is used more than compare with, and it is the preferred choice for all comparisons when speaking of common usage.

I have to admit, I’m probably guilty of misusing compare to versus compare with as much as anyone, but now that I know the distinction, I’ll work hard to get it right. By the way, if you want other grammar blogs, here’s one to check out.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes nonfiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count, they had forty animals—seven dogs, one horse, six cats, and twenty-five pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with forty-five loving “friends.”

/Users/giacomog/Dropbox/Publishing/images%20for%20books/blogs/apples%20and%20oranges.jpg

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

About the Author:

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series as well as books about grammar and publishing.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.

.

Leave a Reply

Top

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

%d bloggers like this: