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Comparing and Contrasting in English

Phrases used to clearly express likeness and differences

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Imagine you are having an important discussion about ideas. It's not small talk, but a discussion about how you feel about something important like your beliefs, politics, who you feel is better for a job and so on. In this case, you will need to compare and contrast ideas, people's skills, and so on. Using the right phrases and grammar structures can help you express your ideas well. This will lead to a more interesting conversation or debate

Words and Short Phrases Used to Compare

 

The following words or short phrases compare two items or ideas:

like
likewise
same as
as well as
also, too
likewise

Here is a short paragraph using some of these expressions:

You'll find that time like money is a limited resource. You can't buy everything you want, likewise you don't have enough time to do everything you want to do. Our time is the same as our money: it's limited. Also, time is a resource when work needs to be done.

The following words or short phrases contrast two items or ideas:

unlike
in contrast to
as opposed to
different from
whereas

Here is a short paragraph using some of these expressions to contrast:

Unlike time or money, desire is an unlimited resource. Think about it: In contrast to money which can run out, your desire for new experiences and ideas will never end. Whereas there is never enough time to do everything you want, your desire will always come up with something new and exciting.

Forms Used when Comparing Ideas

The most important form to use when comparing two ideas is the comparative form. For three or more ideas, use the superlative form

Comparative form

These sentences use the comparative form to discuss ideas concerning the difficult economy.

Employment issues are more important than political problems at this point in time.
Job training is more critical to sustained well being than food stamps and other welfare programs.
Politicians are more worried about reelection than truly improving the economy.

As ... as

A related form to the comparative is the use of 'as ... as'. The positive form shows something is equal. However, when using 'as ... as' do not modify the adjective as in the comparative form.

The loss of manufacturing jobs is as unfortunate as the drop in pay.
Spending on education in my state is as high as in some foreign countries like Korea.

The negative form shows that something is not equal.

It isn't as easy as you think. 
The loss in production isn't as great as in the past.

Superlative form

These sentences use the superlative form to state what someone feels are the most important aspect of a success at university.

Dedication is the most important factor in success at University.
Opening was mind to new perspectives was the most rewarding part of my time at university.

Conjunctions and Connectors

 

Use these subordinating conjunctions, connecting words and prepositions to contrast positive and negative aspects.

Though, although, even though

Although the initial cost will be high, we will eventually profit from the time spent.
It's important to remember that time is money even though many believe that money is more important.

However, Nonetheless

We need to improve the local infrastructure. However, we must also respect nature.
The government should invest in job training programs. Nonetheless, these will be expensive. 

Despite, In spite of

Despite the difficulty, students will soon see the benefit of this topic of study.
The situation will improve in spite of the economy.

Practice Situations

Find a partner and use these suggestions to practice comparing and contrasting ideas, events,and people. Make sure to vary the language you use when practicing rather than using the same phrase over and over again.

  • discuss the economic situation in your country
  • speak about the positive and negative aspects of a politician or political party
  • compare and contrast two different courses at school
  • consider both sides of an important decision such as an investment, a career change, etc.

More English Functions

Encouraging Others
Expressing Enthusiasm
Confirming Information
Giving and Receiving Presents
Expressing Sadness
Asking for Information
Asking for Permission
Asking for a Favor
Giving and Receiving Presents
Asking for Information
Expressing Sadness
Asking for Permission
Asking for a Favor
Disagreeing
Contrasting Ideas
Making Complaints
Asking for Information
Giving Advice
Guessing
Being Imprecise or Vague
Saying 'No' Nicely
Showing Preferences
Making Suggestions
Offering Help
Giving Warning

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