compare to

compare with, compare to
1. In general usage, these two constructions tend to be used interchangeably; AmE generally prefers to when there is a choice, whereas in BrE the choice is more evenly divided. A broad distinction in principle should be kept in mind, namely that compare to is used to liken two things whereas compare with is used to weigh or balance one thing against another. When Shakespeare in his famous line asks Shall I compare thee to a Summers day?, he is likening, even though in the end he shows his beloved to be more lovely than a summer's day.
2. This broad distinction can be seen in the following modern examples, although the use of to in the 1976 example violates it:

• American Opinion…compared the familiar peace symbol to an anti-Christian ‘broken cross’ —Time, 1970

(likening)

• He did not individually compare other women with her, but because she was the first, she was equal in his memory to the sum of all the others —J. Berger, 1972

(balancing)

• Compared to war-reporting of the Spanish war…Journey to a War is superficial and uninformative —S. Hynes, 1976

(balancing)

• Salim's flight to London can be compared…to the Romeward journey in Virgil —London Review of Books, 1979

(likening)

• The company produced a creditable performance, particularly when compared with the results of many of its competitors —Daily Telegraph, 1992

(balancing).
3. When a subordinate clause or phrase is introduced by the participial form compared, the preposition is either to or with, although here usage is moving in favour of to:

• The church looked dimly mysterious compared with the glare of the passage —P. D. James, 1986.

• This was a modest sum compared to what other people spent —Tom Wolfe, 1987

• Compared to physics and astronomy, cosmology is a young science —Science Show (ABC Radio), AusE 2003 [OEC].

4. In BrE with is obligatory when compare is used intransitively, because the balancing rather than the likening notion predominates:

• His achievements do not compare with those of A. J. Ayer —Sunday Times, 1988.

In AmE, however, compare to is possible here:

• None of those birds compare to L.A. pigeons —LA Weekly, 2004.

See also comparable, comparison 2.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Compare++ — is a useful auxiliary tool for programmers and Web developers. The tool can compare text files and folders quickly. It is useful to detect differences of codes and match.[1] In the review of Softsea in the June 2, 2010, Compare++ was awarded 5… …   Wikipedia

  • Compare — Com*pare , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Compared}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Comparing}.] [L.comparare, fr. compar like or equal to another; com + par equal: cf. F. comparer. See {Pair}, {Peer} an equal, and cf. {Compeer}.] 1. To examine the character or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • compare — [kəm per′] vt. compared, comparing [ME comparen < OFr comparer < L comparare < com , with + parare, to make equal < par: see PAR1] 1. to regard as similar; liken (to) [to compare life to a river] 2. to examine in order to observe or… …   English World dictionary

  • compare — ► VERB 1) (often compare to/with) estimate, measure, or note the similarity or dissimilarity between. 2) (compare to) point out or describe the resemblances of (something) with. 3) (usu. compare with) be similar to or have a specified… …   English terms dictionary

  • Compare — Com*pare , n. 1. Comparison. [Archaic] [1913 Webster] His mighty champion, strong beyond compare. Milton. [1913 Webster] Their small galleys may not hold compare With our tall ships. Waller. [1913 Webster] 2. Illustration by comparison; simile.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • compare to —  , compare with  These two can be usefully distinguished.  Compare to should be used to liken things, compare with to consider their similarities or differences. He compared London to New York means that he felt London to be similar to New York.… …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Compare — Com*pare , v. i. 1. To be like or equal; to admit, or be worthy of, comparison; as, his later work does not compare with his earlier. [1913 Webster] I should compare with him in excellence. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. To vie; to assume a likeness or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • compare — late 14c., from O.Fr. comparer (12c., Mod.Fr. comparer), from L.L. comparare to liken, to compare (see COMPARISON (Cf. comparison)). To compare notes is from 1708. Related: Compared; comparing. Phrase without compare (attested from 1620s, but… …   Etymology dictionary

  • compare — compare, contrast, collate mean to set two or more things side by side in order to show likenesses and differences. Compare implies as an aim the showing of relative values or excellences or a bringing out of characteristic qualities, whether… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • comparé — comparé, ée [ kɔ̃pare ] adj. • de comparer ♦ Qui étudie les rapports entre plusieurs objets d étude. Anatomie comparée (des espèces différentes). Grammaire comparée, étudiant les rapports entre langues. Littérature comparée, étudiant les… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.