Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Compare to and Compare with

Compare to vs Compare with

“Compare to” and “compare with” are used for comparisons between non-similar things and similar things respectively in English grammar.

“Compare to”
“Compare to” is used for comparing two things which are not similar or not alike. For example, He compared her eyes to the depths of the ocean. Here the preposition “to” is used to emphasize the resemblance between two things which are actually not similar. While eyes are organs of the human body, the ocean is a sea. They are very different objects, but there is something which makes them eligible enough to compare with each other. The common factor between these two things is the color. Let’s see how.

In the above example, two very different things have been compared to each other because of their common quality. “Eyes” and “ocean” are two very different things. Here the reference has been made to the color of the eyes which is as deep in color as the depths of the ocean itself. The common quality here is “depth.” “Depth” in referring to deep seas where only darkness prevails and the color of “her eyes” being very deep in shade or color. Thus the comparison is between two very different things which have a common quality.

Such comparisons in English grammar are used for a figure of speech called similes. Some examples of similes are:

As white as snow. Meaning something being absolutely white just as the snow is. Here the comparison has been made between two different things; snow and the color white.
As clear as crystal. Here “clarity” is the common quality that has been emphasized, a thought could be as clear as crystal and a surface that could be clear as crystal.

An easy way to remember the use of “compare to” and “compare with” is by remembering to use “liken to” and “contrast with.”

“Compare with”
“Compare with” is used for comparing two things which are similar or alike. For example, Her songs were compared with the songs of the original singer. Here the preposition “with” is used to emphasize the resemblance between two similar things. There is one song sung by two different people which is compared with each other. The common object here is the “song.”
Another thing about “compare with” is that it is used to emphasize similarities as well as the differences. In the above example, the song is the same but it has been sung by two different people. Thus the quality of the voice, the quality of the singing are different from each other.


“Compared to” is used to emphasize the similarities or resemblance between two very different objects while “compared with” is used to emphasize differences as well as any resemblance between two similar things.

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  • 1 Comment

    1. Hello Nimisha. You wrote: “Such comparisons in English grammar are used for a figure of speech called similes.”

      This improperly mixes singular with plural. I reckon that it should read: “Such comparisons in English grammar are used for a figure of speech called a simile.” (or perhaps “…are used for figures of speech called similes,”).

      I only mention this because this website is one where precision rules!

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