Making comparisons is important in analytic writing, and it would behoove writers to understand the grammar involved in comparing one item with another.

According to Claire Cook, the verb compare is used differently with different prepositions (172). Use compare with when you want to evaluate the similarities and differences between items (e.g., species of finch).

My essay compares the house finch with the goldfinch.

Use compare to when you wish to make an analogy—that is, when you wish to highlight a point of similarity between otherwise very different items.

The poet compares her handwritten signature to ocean swell in a storm.

Work Cited

Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1985. 

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon is associate editor at the MLA. He received an MFA in poetry from Columbia University and a BA in comparative literature from Brown University. Before coming to the MLA, he worked as an editor for several academic publishers.