‘Compare to' vs 'Compare With': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on November 28, 2022

Wondering whether to use the phrase ‘compare to’ or if you’re better off using ‘compare with’ instead? We’ll clear up the difference between the two, and by the time you finish reading, you’ll have enough information to use the correct phrase in a sentence appropriately.

Don’t feel like skimming? The short answer is that both phrases are acceptable, depending on how you use them.

‘Compared to’ highlights the similarity between two things.

‘Compared with’ does the opposite and contrasts two things.

Difference Between Compare To and Compare With 

So, we’ve just learned the difference between ‘compared to’ and ‘compared with.’ The former is used to compare similarities, while the latter is used to contrast differences.

Should I Write ‘Compared To’ or ‘Compared With’? 

If you’re trying to compare two things and how similar they are, use ‘compared to’, and if you’re trying to highlight the differences between two things, use ‘compared with.’

Similar Confusing Phrases

There are lots of phrases in the English language that trip up even native English speakers. Let’s take a look at a few.

Relate To vs. Relate With 

The terms ‘relate to’ and ‘relate with’ are both acceptable to use, just like ‘compare to’ and ‘compare with.’ However, most of the time, ‘relate to’ is the correct way to use the term.

Associated To vs. Associated With 

There’s not much difference between ‘associated to’ and ‘associated with.’ It all depends on your preference, as the terms mean the same thing.

In the Summer vs. In Summer

The terms ‘in the summer’ and ‘in summer’ mean essentially the same thing. However, ‘in summer’ is usually used at the beginning of a sentence or if it’s broken up. And ‘in the summer’ can be used in pretty much anyway. For example, “in summer attire,” and “in late summer 2023…” and “in the summer, we…” are all appropriate.

Definition and Meaning

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word is: “to represent as similar: liken,” “to examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover,” “to view in relation to,” and “to inflect or modify (an adjective or adverb) according to the degrees of comparison: state the positive, comparative, and superlative forms of.”

It’s also defined as: “to bear being compared,” “to make comparisons,” “to be equal or alike,” “the possibility of comparing,” and “something with which to be compared.”

Some synonyms of the word include:

  • Analogize
  • Equate
  • Assimilate
  • Liken
  • Bracket

Understanding Prepositions

Since the phrases ‘compare to’ and ‘compare with’ contain the words ‘to’ and ‘with,’ they’re technically considered prepositional phrases.

So, what’s a prepositional phrase? It’s a phrase that can be used to indicate a direction, a place of arrival, or a goal, among other things.

Some examples of prepositional phrases include:

  • In time
  • With that girl
  • After hours
  • About three o’clock
  • To the store
  • From school
  • Over the bridge
  • Under the awning
  • During class
  • Behind the gate
  • Before work

How to Use ‘Compare to’ and ‘Compare With’ in a Sentence 

Now that you know a little bit more about the phrases, let’s see how to use both in a sentence correctly.

Take a look at some examples of how to use ‘compare to’ in a sentence:

  • Compared to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston had similar vocal range.
  • Upon closer analysis, this lizard is just as slimy compared to the other one.
  • My organization’s quarterly sales compared to this time last year are pretty much the same.
  • Compared to last Christmas, this one just as great (if not better).

Now, let’s take a look at some examples of how to use ‘compare with’ in a sentence:

  • Compared with last winter, this winter is pretty tame.
  • Compared with the last test we had, this one is way harder!
  • There are 40 more balls in this box compared with the other one.
  • When you compare this house with the last house, this one’s much warmer.

Final Thoughts on ‘Compare To’ and ‘Compare With’

As we discussed above, ‘compare to’ is best used when comparing similar things, while ‘compare with’ is used to compare things that are opposite.

It’s not the easiest thing to remember and there’s no easy trick for remembering which one is which. But you can always pop on back over and take a browse through our library of articles dedicated to explaining confusing words.

We can also teach you how to write better. So, don’t be a stranger. Come back whenever you need to.

Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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