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Difference Between Compare and Contrast

Compare vs Contrast

Compare and contrast are the two terms that you normally tend to use when you find similarities and yet differences between two objects or things. There is a difference between the two words as well.

The verb ‘compare’ carries with it the meaning of ‘to represent similar’. The verb ‘contrast’ carries with the meaning of ‘to compare in respect to differences’. If you have the intention of representing the similarities between two objects, then you compare, whereas if you have the intention of differentiating between two objects, then you contrast.

Comparison has the extra sense of ‘examining the qualities with a view to discover resemblances or differences’. Contrast on the other hand focuses mainly on the differences between two objects. It throws more light on differences than similarities.

The word ‘compare’ is derived from the Latin ‘comparare’ whereas the word ‘contrast’ is derived from the Latin ‘contrastare’. Comparison is the basis of the figure of speech called Simile. You compare between two similar objects. It is usual to compare the face of a lady to the moon.

Look at the sentence, ‘her face is like the moon’. Here the word ‘moon’ is the standard of comparison and ‘face’ is the object of comparison’. You have drawn a comparison between the face and the moon. In other words you have likened her face with the moon in terms of beauty.

Look at the sentence ‘her face is beautiful than the moon’. Here again the word ‘moon’ is the standard of comparison and the word ‘face’ is the object of comparison. On the other hand you have differentiated between the face and the moon by showing some difference between the two in terms of beauty. Hence the intention was to contrast the face and the moon. This is the basic difference between compare and contrast.

In short,

You use the word compare when you have the intention of representing the similarities between two objects.

You use the word contrast when you have the intention of differentiating between two objects.

Comparison is used in the sense of examining the qualities with a view to discover resemblances or differences


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