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1) His work can be compared to that of XYZ.

2) His work can be compared with that of XYZ.

1) I was comparing my result with his.

2) I was comparing my result to his.

Can you also please give more examples to clear my doubt?

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  • I have changed some wording in your title and in your first #2 and also corrected the numbering. Just say if you think I made a bad change. By the way, numbered lists an go funny if you use 1. 2. etc, but not if you use 1) 2) etc!
    – nxx
    Mar 18, 2014 at 15:31

2 Answers 2

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"To compare X with Y" : To assess the similarities and differences between two or more things Having made the comparison of X with Y, one might have found it similar to Y or different from Y.
Eg, I compared the cost of book1 with book2.
"To compare X to Y":To declare two things to be similar in some respect.
Eg, His work can be compared to that of XYZ. (meaning His work and XYZ's work are similar) .

If you use the continuous tense for 'compare to', then it implies that you are trying establish the similarities and not the differences. However, if you say 'comparing with', then you are comparing X and Y, just to compare them, that is, to know how similar or dissimilar they are.

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    What about "I was/am comparing X to Y", given that the conclusion of similarity has not been reached? Also, your first example does not use "with" but introduces a new construction, which you might need to explain.
    – nxx
    Mar 18, 2014 at 15:27
  • Right, I didn't notice that. Corrected it now and expanded to include your question.
    – Adil Ali
    Mar 18, 2014 at 15:36
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'Compared to' can usually be substituted by 'compared against,' 'matched against,' or likened to' where the comparison is against a reference.

'Compared with' is more appropriate where the comparison is between two candidates of similar standing.

Here's what some style guides say:

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.

Strunk and White (The Elements of Style)

To has traditionally been preferred when the similarity between two things is the point of the comparison and compare means ‘liken’: I hesitate to compare my own works to those of someone like Dickens.

With, on the other hand, suggests that the differences between two things are as important as, if not more important than, the similarities: We compared the facilities available to most city-dwellers with those available to people living in the country; to compare like with like.

Penguin Writer's Manual

Use compared to when the intent is to assert, without the need for elaboration, that two or more items are similar: She compared her work for women’s rights to Susan B Anthony’s campaign for women’s suffrage.

Use compared with when juxtaposing two or more items to illustrate similarities and/or differences: His time was 2:11:10 compared with 2:14 for his closest competitor.

AP Stylebook

All three style guides contain the idea that 'compare to' is used when emphasizing similarities over differences. However, this idea doesn't even capture why 'compare to' was appropriate in the examples that these very style guides give. Nonetheless, the point from Strunk & White about comparison between objects of a different order seems more fruitful as an explanation for all the examples.

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