Is 'in contrast' always followed by the preposition 'to', or are there situations where it can correctly be followed by 'with' or a different preposition?

  • I could see myself saying "Note that the red plumage of the robin (a bird) is in stark contrast with its bleak surroundings." Sep 24, 2015 at 22:51
  • This is not quite your example though as I added stark so it breaks the phrase. Perhaps: "Figure A is big. In contrast, Figure B is small." Though the 'to' here is implied and I haven't added a proposition at all. I would also pronounce 'contrast' different here putting the emphasis on the first syllable instead of the second. Good question as I cannot think of another use. Sep 24, 2015 at 22:56
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    I'd say that you can use it at the start of a sentence to mark the difference of the subsequent object / event from the preceding one, i.e. "This pill is red. In contrast, this one is blue."
    – LiveMynd
    Sep 25, 2015 at 8:44
  • Thank you. I think that in both of the examples where 'in contrast' starts a sentence, I would also use 'by', as in "Figure A is big. By contrast, Figure B is small." The more I think about this the less I know what sounds right!! Oct 1, 2015 at 7:56

1 Answer 1


You can use either in contrast to or in contrast with.

Without considering by/in contrast (i.e., when there is no preposition after by/in contrast, as suggested in the comments above), both in contrast to and in contrast with are equally valid.

From Garner's Modern American Usage:

in contrast with; in contrast to. These are equally good. See contrast (A).

contrast. A. Prepositions with. One contrasts something with—not to—something else. But it’s permissible to write either in contrast to or in contrast with. Cf. compare with.

(You can find a quote by Bryan Garner, the author of Garner's Modern American Usage in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style, which was quoted on this site under "compare with" or "compare to".)

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