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Copy Editor’s Corner | Dare to compare, correctly

What’s the difference between “compare with” and “compare to,” anyway? Let’s compare the two phrases. According to The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, “To compare to is to point out or imply resemblances between objects regarded as essentially of a different order; to compare with is mainly to point out differences between objects regarded as essentially of the same order.” And The Associated Press Stylebook offers this example: “She compared her work for women’s rights to Susan B. Anthony’s campaign for women’s suffrage.” To simplify both entries from these style gods, use “compared with” to point out a difference and “compared to” to point out a similarity. It’s much likelier that you’ll use “compared with” in a piece than “compared to.”
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