Comparing and contrast 1

1 what you say when comparing things or people


compared to/with used when comparing things or people, especially when comparing numbers or amounts:

• This year's profits are much higher compared to last year's.

• The average male now has a life expectancy of 77.6 years, compared with 75 in 1960.

• Total spending on health care represents about 4 percent of GDP. Compared to most other advanced economies, that figure is low.

• Mortality rates are lower for women as compared with men.


by comparison/in comparison when compared with another thing, person etc:

• Young male drivers have far more accidents by comparison with other groups.

• Wages are low in comparison with the US.

• In his early pictures he used rather dull colours. His later work is much brighter in comparison.

• The amount of money spent on advertising milk pales in comparison to (=is much less than) the money spent on advertising beer.


next to/beside preposition used when comparing things or people, especially when there is a surprising difference between them:

• Our problems seem trivial next to those faced by people in the developing world.

• Their achievements pale beside his. (=they seem much less important)


as against/as opposed to conjunction used when you are comparing two figures or pieces of information, in order to show how they are different:

• The company achieved sales of $404 million, as against $310 million in the previous year.

• One study predicted that 42% of female university graduates would remain single the rest of their lives, as opposed to just 5% of male graduates.


unlike preposition used when saying that people or things are different:

• Unlike his brother, he had no interest in music.

• The drug has very few side effects, unlike other drugs that are used to treat this illness.


in contrast/by contrast used when mentioning the difference between two things, people, countries etc that you are comparing:

• In contrast to the south of the island, the north is still untouched by tourism.

• The US and Australia, in contrast with most other leading industrialized nations, chose not to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

• Studies show that each execution costs $3.5 million. By contrast it costs about $600,000 to keep someone in prison for life.


in proportion to/in relation to used when considering the relationship between the amount or size of something compared to another thing:

• People from Sweden pay the highest rates of tax in proportion to their incomes.

• His head is big in proportion to the rest of his body.

• Britain's national debt was greater than that of the US in relation to the size of its economy.


relative adjective used when comparing the amount of something that someone or something has, with others of the same type:

• In his article he compares the relative merits of living in the countryside and living in a big city.

• It is too early to make a judgement about the relative importance of these different factors.

• How do we account for the relative lack of women studying physics at university?

Comparing and contrast 2

2 to compare things or people


compare verb [transitive] to examine or consider two or more things or people, in order to show how they are similar or different:

• A study by Nottingham University compared the cost of recycling plastic bags with making them from scratch.

• Galileo compared the time it took for different types of object to fall to the ground.

• The graph compares the number of students joining the university to study history and chemistry.


make/draw a comparison to compare two or more things or people and say how they are similar:

• In her article, she makes a comparison between people's lives now and 50 years ago.

• It is possible to draw a comparison between the two poets' work.


Draw a comparison is more formal than make a comparison.


draw an analogy to say that two situations are similar:

• Some people have attempted to draw an analogy between America's invasion of Iraq and the war in Vietnam.


draw a parallel to say that some aspects of two very different things are similar:

• The writer draws a parallel between Henry James's elaborate style of writing and the ingenious patterns and curious details in Minton's paintings.

Parallels can be drawn between her work and that of Picasso.


liken somebody/something to phrasal verb to say that someone or something is similar to another person or thing:

• Gambling is often likened to drug addiction.

• Critics have likened the play to Arthur Miller's work.


contrast verb [transitive] to compare two things, situations etc, in order to show how they are different from each other:

• In her novel she contrasts the lives of two families in very different circumstances.


make/draw a distinction between to say that you think two things are very different:

• It is important to make a distinction between people's fears about crime and the real situation.

• The author draws a distinction between allowing death to occur, and causing it.


Draw a distinction is more formal than make a distinction.