Compare to vs. Compare with – Which One?

Compare to vs. compare with: are they the same?  Well, there is actually a slight yet very practical difference between ‘compared with’ and ‘compared to.’ While ‘compared to’ underscores a similarity between two things, ‘compared with’ does the opposite. It contrasts them. Now, mixing the two up is hardly a cardinal sin in the world of writing. It barely warrants a second look compared to, say, using a wrong tense or misspelling a word. And it’s quite possible that with time, the difference will disappear altogether. But, while the difference still exists, we should take advantage of the originally intended distinction. It can actually prove to be a useful tool.

So, if you are leaving a glowing restaurant review on yelp after enjoying your meal, you might write, 

‘I would definitely compare Domenicco’s Bar & Grill to the best in town.’  

And if you are advising on a strategy in a management proposal, you could say, ‘Compared with other options, downsizing is by far the most cost effective.’

One of the most notable literary examples of this can be found in “Romeo and Juliet”. Many of us will remember the famous quote: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ Shakespeare then goes on to list all the reasons why he shouldn’t liken his love to a dreary Sunday morning in Somerset. But his question is meant to be a form of flattery. What he meant was that she deserves to be compared to a summer’s day, but English summers are too rainy, grey, dull, and short. Whereas she is beautiful and his love for her is everlasting. Remembering this quote could be a good to remind yourself of the difference between compare to vs. compare with. However, if this is just too confusing, you can always remember that the to in ‘compared to’ stands for ‘together.’   

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