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Compare To vs. Compare With — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on November 26, 2023
"Compare to" suggests similarity; "compare with" implies analysis of differences and similarities.
Compare To vs. Compare With — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Compare To and Compare With

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Key Differences

"Compare to" is generally used when pointing out similarities between two unlike things. It's a way of saying that something is like something else, not in all aspects, but in one particular way. On the other hand, "compare with" is used when you are looking at two similar things and you want to show both their differences and similarities.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
"Compare to" is often used in a more figurative sense, drawing symbolic or poetic parallels between two disparate entities. For instance, one might say, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" "Compare with," however, is used for a more literal, often analytical comparison, where both differences and similarities are examined, usually between two like entities.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
"Compare to" is akin to saying that one thing resembles another or is equivalent in specific characteristics, often used in a poetic or grandiloquent manner. "Compare with," conversely, means to put things side by side to see their differences or similarities, typically in a more analytical or exact manner.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
"Compare to" often involves the presentation of a metaphor, an assertion of sameness in spite of apparent differences. "Compare with" is more about an analysis, a breakdown of similarities and differences to reach a conclusion or to differentiate.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
"Compare to" is frequently used in contexts where the intent is to elevate an object or concept by showing that it holds the same value or qualities as something universally understood as valuable. "Compare with," on the other hand, tends to be the choice when the goal is to make an objective judgment, often between two subjects that belong to the same category.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Highlighting similarities
Analyzing both similarities and differences
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Context

Often more figurative or metaphorical
Generally more literal or analytical
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Types of Items Compared

Usually different kinds
Usually similar kinds
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Intention

Suggesting equivalence or resemblance
Showing contrast or detailed comparison
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Grammatical Structure

Used more in subjective, poetic expressions
Used in objective, analytical expressions
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Compare To

To assert a likeness in certain respects between different entities.
You can't compare a lion's courage to a dog's.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Compare With

To analyze two similar entities in relation to each other.
The study compares the human brain with a computer.
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Oct 16, 2023

Compare To

To draw a symbolic parallel between unlike things.
She compared life's journey to a book with multiple chapters.
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Oct 16, 2023

Compare With

To set objects in juxtaposition for the purpose of contrast or examination.
The article compares the policy with previous ones.
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Oct 16, 2023

Compare To

To metaphorically equate disparate items.
Critics compare his voice to velvet.
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Oct 16, 2023

Compare With

To put side by side to examine differences or similarities.
When you compare this year's sales with last year's, there's a clear increase.
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Oct 16, 2023

Compare To

To indicate or suggest similarity between different things.
He compared her eyes to shining stars.
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Oct 16, 2023

Compare With

To measure or note the similarities and differences.
He compared his work with the standard guidelines.
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Oct 16, 2023

Compare To

To represent one thing as analogous with another.
The report compared the economy to a fragile vase.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

Compare With

To conduct a detailed comparison.
Scientists often compare one experiment's results with another's.
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Oct 16, 2023

Common Curiosities

Why use "compare to" instead of "compare with"?

"Compare to" is used to suggest that two different things are similar in some respect, often in a metaphorical sense.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Can "compare with" indicate both similarities and differences?

Yes, "compare with" is typically used to analyze both similarities and differences between two entities.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

What's the main grammatical difference between "compare to" and "compare with"?

"Compare to" is used for highlighting similarity, often metaphorically, while "compare with" entails a detailed analysis of similarities and differences.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Can "compare to" imply equivalence?

"Compare to" can suggest a likeness or equivalence in certain qualities between different things.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Is "compare with" more likely to be used in scientific contexts?

Yes, "compare with" is commonly used in analytical, scientific, or academic texts for detailed comparisons.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Is "compare to" more poetic than "compare with"?

Yes, "compare to" is often used in more figurative language, while "compare with" is used for more literal, analytical comparisons.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Are there specific contexts where "compare to" is more appropriate than "compare with"?

Yes, "compare to" is more appropriate in poetic or metaphorical expressions highlighting similarities.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Can "compare with" be used for things in the same category?

Yes, "compare with" is often used to compare things that are generally of the same type or category.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Can "compare to" and "compare with" be used interchangeably?

While sometimes used interchangeably, "compare to" typically highlights similarities while "compare with" analyzes both differences and similarities.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Is one more formal than the other between "compare to" and "compare with"?

Not necessarily, but "compare with" is more common in academic or analytical contexts, while "compare to" is often used in literary or rhetorical contexts.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Are there exceptions to the rules for using "compare to" and "compare with"?

Usage can vary based on regional dialects and individual preference, but the distinctions generally hold true.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

How do I decide whether to use "compare to" or "compare with"?

Consider your purpose: use "compare to" for highlighting similarities, often between different things, and "compare with" for a more detailed analysis of both similarities and differences, often between similar things.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Does the choice between "compare to" and "compare with" affect the meaning of a sentence?

It can. "Compare to" might suggest a metaphorical similarity, while "compare with" might imply a more analytical comparison.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Does "compare with" require more detailed observation?

Generally, yes. "Compare with" usually involves a more detailed or nuanced examination of the subjects.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

Can "compare to" be used for contrasting things?

Less commonly. "Compare to" typically emphasizes similarities more than differences.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 26, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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