Expressing Comparison

There are many ways to express comparison and contrast in every language. Here in this lesson, we are going to learn how to talk about comparison in English.

Comparison in the English Grammar

What is Comparison?

Comparison is the act of comparing two or more things to identify similarities and differences between them, in order to help us make choices, evaluate performance, understand relationships, etc. To compare two things, we need to identify the similarities and differences between them with regards to a basis of comparison.

In English, we can express comparison using the following parts of speech:

Prepositions for Expressing Comparison

Prepositions can be used to indicate comparison between two things. Some of the most common prepositions used for indicating comparison include:

Than

This is one of the most common prepositions used for comparison. It is used to compare two things or people, rather than showing similarities or differences. The adjective that comes before "than" must be in comparative form. Pay attention to the examples:

She is taller than her brother.

My new apartment is more expensive than my previous one.

Like

This preposition is used to show some kind of similarity between two things or people. For example:

He looks like his father.

Unlike

This preposition is used to show some kind of difference between two things or people. For example:

Unlike his brother, he doesn't like sports.

Compared to/with

These prepositions are used to indicate similarities or differences between two things or people. For example:

Compared to last year, this year's sales have increased significantly.

As...as

As...as' is a structure used to express equality or similarity between two things. It is often used with adjectives or adverbs to show the degree of comparison. It is always used in pairs, with the first 'as' introducing the comparison and the second 'as' indicating the standard of the comparison. Pay attention to the example:

He is as tall as his father.

As Well As

"As well as" can be used to show that two things are being compared and are equal in some way. The two things being compared usually come before and after "as well as" in the sentence. For example:

Sarah plays the piano as well as her big sister.

The Same as

'The same as' is often used in comparisons to emphasize that two things share a common characteristic or quality. For example:

The dress she's wearing is the same as the one she wore to the party last week.

Different from

'Different from' is a phrase used to indicate that two things are not the same or have a different characteristic or quality. For example:

My new phone is different from my old phone in terms of its features and design.

Similar to

'Similar to' is a phrase used to indicate that two things share some common characteristics or qualities. For example:

Her new haircut is similar to the one she had last year.

Versus

It is a preposition that is used to compare two things to make a choice between them. For example:

The company is currently weighing the pros and cons of expanding into new markets versus focusing on improving their existing products.

In Comparison to

'In comparison to' is a prepositional phrase that can be used to highlight similarities or differences between the things being compared. For example:

The company's profits have been rising steadily; in comparison to their competitors, they are doing very well.

As Opposed to

'As opposed to' is often used to highlight differences between two or more things or introduce an alternative idea. For example:

I prefer to work from home, as opposed to working in a noisy office.

Contrary to

'Contrary to' is used to introduce a statement that contradicts or is in opposition to a previous statement or assumption. It's often used to highlight differences or to challenge a commonly held belief. For example:

Contrary to popular belief, not all snakes are venomous.

Tip!

Sentences using these prepositions for comparison typically consist of a subject that is the person or thing being compared to a reference. The prepositions used in these sentences indicate the relationship between the subject and the reference.

He looks like his mother.

'He' is the subject and 'his mother' is the reference of the comparison

Conjunctive Adverbs for Expressing Comparison

Conjunctive adverbs can be used to show a similarity or comparison between the ideas expressed in the two clauses.

Likewise and Similarly

'Likewise' and 'similarly' are two conjunctive adverbs that are often used to show that two things have something in common or to express agreement with a previous statement. For example:

My sister loves to travel. Likewise, I enjoy exploring new places.

John has a passion for music. Similarly, Mary is a big music lover.

Adverbs for Expressing Comparison

Adverbs can indicate comparison and show the degree or intensity of a quality or action in comparison to another. Sentences that use these adverbs to show similarity typically refer back to a previous sentence for the reference of the comparison. They would not make sense on their own. Some of the adverbs used for expressing comparison include the following:

My sister loves to travel. I also enjoy exploring new places.

The red car is fast. The yellow one is equally fast.

Michael has a nice sense of humor. Alex is funny too.

Summary

The following table summarizes the words used to indicate comparison and whether they express similarity or difference:

Compare Show Similarity Show Difference
Than
Like
Unlike
Compared to/with
As...as
As well as
The Same as
Different from
Similar to
Versus
In Comparison to
As Opposed to
Contrary to
Likewise
Similarly
Also
Equally
Too

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