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Comparing and Contrasting

A number of different
words used for comparing things written in different colours and in different sizes


Frequently in academic writing, the author needs to compare or contrast different theories or opinions. At other times or in other disciplines, the need to contrast or compare different statistics or data often arises. Therefore it is helpful for you to have a good command of the basic structures needed to make such comparisons and the linking devices used to fluently connect them within paragraphs and essays.

Before starting the activities, you can obtain an overview of how best to use this Learning Object, using a Screencast (with audio), by following this link Overview


• To provide practice in using the requisite structures for comparing and contrasting
• To raise awareness of how certain cohesive devices are used to link comparisons in text
• To equip you with a number of fixed expressions that can be used to make comparisons

Activity 1: Comparative structures


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You may wish to attempt the exercises in Activity 1 by testing the grammatical knowledge that you have already acquired. Or, if you prefer, you can revise the basic rules by following this link Comparatives then do the exercises to check your understanding.

Use the text entry box to rewrite the following sentences using a negative followed by as/ or Here are two examples:

a) The number of students per school in the state sector is considerably greater than in the private sector.
    The number of students per school is not nearly as great in the private sector as in the state sector.

b) It is predicted that the percentage of students failing will be higher than in the first year.
    It is predicted that there will not be such a high percentage of students failing as in the first year.

1.) It can be argued that this trend was considerably more concerning than any other.
2.) Although all the various theories have something to recommend them, some are better than others.
3.) Of the forty women, twenty-six claimed that they worked harder than their husbands.
4.) Some firms are better equipped than others to create new advantages of this kind.
5.) It suddenly appears that pragmatism fits our legal practices worse than conventionalism does.
6.) Lenin did more than Marx to contrast these administrative principles with the bureaucratic workings of the bourgeois state.
7.) The amendment that is now before us goes considerably further than the original option.
8.) Within these insurance companies, actuaries have a much wider responsibility than junior managers.
9.) A dominant adult cat approaches a young cat in a more friendly way than it approaches another adult.
10.) The majority of road accident victims in Britain have less chance of surviving than similar cases in the USA.

Use the text entry box to rewrite the following sentences using a comparative structure and than in the same way as shown in the example below.

  The finest champagnes do not have as great a potential to age in an interesting way as the more common ones.
  The more common champagnes have a greater potential to age in an interesting way than the finest ones.

1.) This argument is reinforced by observations that other patients do not consult as often as these patients after a stressful life event.
2.) The landing of the light aircraft in London was not such a problem as it was at the other airport.
3.) The voters in the provinces do not have such confidence in the government as the electorate in Berlin.
4.) The students on other programmes do not have as many opportunities to travel overseas as the students on these courses.
5.) The equipment prices turned out not to be as high as was originally estimated at the start of the financial year.
6.) The emergency services did not do as much as they should have done on this occasion.
7.) The fabrics which were originally sent to us were not as complicated in structure as the synthetic polymers.
8.) After the reforms, the tax system was not as effective at redistributing wealth as before the changes were made.
9.) Scotland always does not do as well as the rest of the UK when it suffers from socialism and its legacy.
10.) The scientific way of working did not produce such good results as the artistic approach.

For non-native speakers of English, there is often confusion about when to use "as" and when to use "like". For some explanation of the different ways they are used follow this link "As" or "Like"? then try these exercises "As" or "Like"?

Activity 2: Linking expressions


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You may wish to attempt the exercises in Activity 2 by testing the knowledge of linking expressions that you have already acquired. Or, if you prefer, you can check how they are usually used by following this link Linkers for Contrasting then do the exercises to check you have understood.

For each of the sentences below, choose from the drop down box which of the linking expressions would fit best in the gap.

1.) ____________ the paperwork is still time-consuming, it was much more complicated before the government reforms.

2.) The U.K. _________________ Greece has an enormous financial deficit to manage.

3.) The accused was acquitted on this occasion. _________________, he went on to commit many other crimes in the next ten years.

4.) The presenter from Japan was nervous. _________________ ,the speaker from China seemed full of confidence.

5.) Much, ___________ not all, of these regulatory changes were of benefit to both countries' economies.

If you would like more practice in using different linking expressions to compare and contrast information follow this link to a short cloze exercise Frogs and Toads. To do a quiz to test your knowledge of fixed expressions and useful vocabulary useful for comparison, follow this link Compare and Contrast

Would you like to review the main points?

© William Tweddle, Queen Mary, University of London, 2010, image generated online by the author using