Difference Between Compare and Contrast (With Table)

Compare vs Contrast

While language helps us to get clarity on a particular subject, it can prove to be equally confusing at times. We often get confused with words having almost similar meanings but if we dig deeper there’s a huge gap separating both the words. Two such words adding to the vocabulary of the English language are: Compare and Contrast.

When we use the word “compare” in a sentence, we basically mean that we are drawing similarities between two different objects or situations. We are here weighing the consequences of both these objects or situations carrying similarities in them which may or may not be visible. For example, if you compare a person living in India with someone living in Bangladesh, you are here deducing the coincidences of similarity. You are considering the characteristics of both these people and forming an opinion or coming to a desirable conclusion. This weighing of characteristics of two different situations or objects can be called comparing.

Coming to the use of the word “contrast”, here the situation is quite the opposite. While we draw similarities when we “compare” two different objects/situations, we draw differences when we “contrast” the same. The literal translation of the word contrast is “as opposed to” or “unlike”. The most primary version of the word contrast, is ” contrary”. If you have to highlight the difference(s) between two given situations or objects, you may begin your sentence like “Contrary to…” or “In contrast of…”. Contrast basically underlines the characteristic(s) which segregates the situations or objects.

The difference between Compare and Contrast is that while we draw similarities when we “compare” two objects, we draw differences when we “contrast” the same.


 

Comparison Table Between Compare and Contrast

Parameters of ComparisonCompareContrast
DefinitionWhen we use the word "compare" in a sentence, we basically mean that we are drawing similarities between two different objects or situations.When we use “contrast”, we draw differences when we “contrast” the same. The literal translation of the word contrast is “as opposed to” or “unlike”.
CharacteristicDraws parallels between two situations.Draws differences between two situations.
Verb formComparing, In comparison to, etc.Contrary to, In contrast with, etc.
ExampleTo compare is to weigh consequences.To contrast is to underline the differences.
SynonymsVerb form: Weighing, matching, conduct, etc.Verb form: To juxtapose, unlike, as opposed to, etc.

 

What does “Compare” mean?

There are times we incur a situation where we are expected to analyse two different objects or circumstances and weigh their respective characteristics to come to a conclusion. This drawing parallels or weighing two ideas can be called comparing (the verb form of ‘compare’). Let’s understand this in a clearer way through easy examples.

Suppose a person wants to go on a vacation and is confused between Shimla and Darjeeling. Here, he/she will start comparing the characteristics of these places, the pros and cons of these places. Both places are cold but Shimla is colder. Both places have marvellous hills but the mountains in Shimla are steeper and so on and so forth. This is how you “compare” the characteristics of two different situations and see for yourselves the pros and cons of the situation at hand.

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In this manner, you compare or weigh the essentialities of two different or almost similar situations or things. You introspect and deduce your personal analogies of a given situation. This act of introspecting situations can be called comparing.

Compare
 

What does “Contrast” mean?

Talking about the word “contrast”, here the situation is quite the opposite. While we are deducing similarities when we “compare” two different situations/objects or almost similar situations/objects, we deduce differences when we “contrast” the same. Let’s take an easy example here to get a clearer perspective; when two people debate over an issue, one often begins his/her statement with “Contrary to what my fellow debater said”, this directly the opposition reflected by the debater. The word “contrary” means as opposed to. Unlike in “comparison”, there is no space to pick out similarities from the situations at hand, you only highlight what makes them stand apart from each other, what separates them from each other.

If you have to highlight the difference(s) between two given situations or objects, you may begin your sentence like “Contrary to…” or “In contrast of…”. Contrast basically underlines the characteristic(s) which segregates the situations or objects.

Contrast

Main Differences Between Compare and Contrast

  • In ‘compare’, when we use the word “compare” in a sentence, we basically mean that we are drawing similarities between two different objects or situations. Whereas in ‘contrast’, we draw differences when we “contrast” the same. The literal translation of the word contrast is “as opposed to” or “unlike”.
  • ‘Compare’ draws parallels between two situations. While ‘contrast’ draws differences between the two situations.
  • The verb form of ‘compare’ is comparing, In comparison to, etc. The verb form of ‘contrast’ is contrary to, In contrast with, etc.
  • Example of ‘compare’: “To compare is to weigh the consequences”. Example of ‘contrast’: “To contrast is to underline the differences”.
  • Synonyms for verb form of “comparing”: Weighing, matching, conduct, etc. Synonyms for verb form of “contrast”: To juxtapose, unlike, as opposed to, etc.

 

Conclusion

So now we understand the clear difference between compare and contrast. While compare corresponds to calculating the similarities in a given situation, contrast digs for the differences in the same. While we are deducing similarities when we “compare” two different situations/objects or almost similar situations/objects, we deduce differences when we “contrast” the same. Other than inferring the differences in their meaning, one struggles to find any differences between the two. Don’t forget to also use the synonyms of these conventional words to add charm to your language.