Compare to vs Compare with in English Grammar
Compare to and Compare with are two phrases that are often used as interchangeable phrases though they are not really so as there is some difference between compare to and compare with. Both these phrases are found under the verb compare. By adding these different prepositions to the end of the verb compare, the meaning of the verb has been changed. According to history, the word compare has its origins in late Middle English. The verb compare is also used as a noun. As a noun it means when compare is used as beyond or without compare, “of a quality or nature surpassing all others of the same kind.”
What does Compare To mean?
Compare to is used when you compare one object to another object in terms of a common quality. For example imagine you say,
Her face is beautiful like the moon.
In this case, you have actually compared her face to the moon in terms of the common quality called beauty. Hence, it can be said that compare to paves the way for the figure of speech called simile.
Simile is said to be the basis of some of the major figures of speech such as metaphor and hyperbole. Here are a few more examples of simile that involves the use of compare to.
He is lofty like a mountain in character.
He is swift like a cheetah.
He is cool like cucumber.
In the first sentence, the person is compared to a mountain in terms of the common quality called character. In the second sentence, the person is compared to a cheetah in terms of speed and in the third sentence, the person is compared to a cucumber as far as his cool and unperturbed nature is concerned.
If you take a look at what the Oxford English dictionary has to say about compare to, you will find the following definition. Compare to is used to “point out or describe the resemblances with; liken to” or to“ draw an analogy between one thing and (another) for the purposes of explanation or clarification.”
What does Compare With mean?
Compare with, on the other hand, involves a greater element of formal analysis in comparison. This is the only difference between compare to and compare with. In other words, you will see an intention of formal analysis in the use of the phrase compare with as in the following sentence.
The man began to compare my account with his.
The intention of formal analysis can be seen in the sentence given above.
The Oxford English dictionary gives the following definitions for compare with. According to the Oxford dictionary, compare with gives the meaning “have a specified relationship with another thing or person in terms of nature or quality” or “be of an equal or similar nature or quality.”
What is the difference between Compare To and Compare With?
• Compare to is used when you compare one object to another object in terms of a common quality.
• Compare with, on the other hand, involves a greater element of formal analysis in comparison.
Pay attention to this fact. Compare to is used when you compare one object to another object in terms of common quality. Compare with involves a greater element of formal analysis in comparison. Therefore, for this sole difference the two phrases compare to and compare with are generally interchangeable.