Do most people wrongly use "compare to" in place of "compare with"? I never thought of these two phrases while using but recently came across a blog where a native English speaker said these two phrases were most likely misused many of times. She said most people use "compare to" in every single instance. "Compare to' should be used to highlight "similarity" where as "compare with" to highlight "difference". Here are two examples she provided: 1- Because she writes speculative fiction, her novels have been compared to Margaret Atwood's 2- Compared with last year's number, car sales are way down. My question is: Is it a rule? Is their any difference between the rule in British and American English? Thanks for your help!
Aug 22, 2018 5:15 PM
Answers · 7
I don't think it matters, no worries. In these examples, I understand the intent and it sounds fine either way. If any listener is unclear about what you're trying to tell them, then that needs to be fixed by either rephrasing the sentence or adding more detail. Using "to" instead of "with" or vice versa will not make a difference. What's important though is that you remember to say one of them. Eventually, you end up saying what people around you tend to say, which is how languages evolve. Is there a rule? Maybe. Does it matter? No. :)
August 22, 2018
Both forms are correct. "to" for different things; "with" similar things... Green apples compared to oranges are usually more sour. Compared with the US Congress, the British Parliament is like a bawdy bar.
August 22, 2018
There is no difference between UK and US English on this point. I would add a nuance to the above answers: in the first example, the precise meaning of "compared to ... " = "ranked approximately as high as .... " "Compared to" sounds better for this particular meaning. However, when the comparison is about differences, both "compared to" and "compared with" are equally common (more or less) and acceptable. Look the phrases up in the sentence database, to see real examples.
August 22, 2018
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