Difference Between Compare and Contrast

Main Difference

The main difference between compare and contrast is that ‘compare’ means to represent things or objects in respect to similarity and ‘contrast’ means to represent things in respect of differences.

Compare vs. Contrast

The word compare derives from the Latin word ‘comparable,’ which means ‘to compare.’ The word contrast derives from the Latin words ‘contra’ and ‘stare,’ which means ‘against’ and ‘to stand.’ Compare is a verb. Contrast is both a noun and a verb. Compare is to examine the qualities or character of something to discover similarities or differences. Contrast means to examine the qualities or character of something to discover the differences only. If you are looking at the similarities between two objects or things, then you may be comparing the two. On the other hand, If you aim at the dissimilarity between two things or objects, then you may be contrasting the two. Compare is used to demonstrate the respective values of an object in its qualities. Contrast is used to look for differences between two or more elements. While comparing two objects or things, one can see the different views which could make one better than the other. Contrast reveals the opposition or dissimilarity of two things. Compare looks like an element from the perspective of its similarity as well as dissimilarity. Contrast only analyze an element in the perspective of its dissimilarity. When you compare two things, you focus on the similar aspects of the subjects in perspective. Contrast aims to reveal the deviation or differences between the two. Furthermore, compare is commonly used with two different things. The term contrast is commonly used for stating differences between two similar things.

Comparison Chart

CompareContrast
‘Compare’ means to look for the qualities of something to discover similarities or differences.Contrast means to look for the qualities of something to discover only dissimilarities.
Grammatical Category
VerbNoun and verb
Used With
Different thingsSimilar things
Refers To
Similarities and differencesDifferences
Signal Words
Alike, as well as, compared with, same as, similar to, etc.Different from, in contrast, more than, less than, etc.

What is Compare?

Compare is derived from the Latin comparable “to liken, to compare.” Compare means to look for the character or qualities of something, specifically to discover similarities or differences. So, when comparing two things, both similarities and differences are examined. However, when you compare something to another thing, you are referring to the similarities of that thing. If you are comparing a girl to a flower, you are looking at the similarities between the two of them. We also go for the term compare when we are looking at the similarities between two dissimilar things. The comparison of two things or objects gives the divergent view which could make one better than the other. To compare is to look at two things and see how they are similar and different. It examines people or things to see how they are alike and how they are different. It also shows the likeness between two dissimilar things, ideas or persons.

Examples

  • Poets have compared sleep to death.
  • I compared many cars before choosing this.
  • Her beauty is compared to the rose.

What is Contrast?

Contrast is derived from the Latin contra, “against” plus stare, “to stand.” Contrast is both a noun and a verb. Contrast means to look for the opposition or dissimilarity of things. Contrast only looks for the differences between two or more things. The verb contrast refers to compare two things to point out the differences. Therefore, the main aim of contrasting two things is to find out the differences between them. It refers to differences for similar objects. It aims at looking for differences between two or more elements.

Examples

  • They contrasted her with her father.
  • Contrast the Romantic music and Classical music.
  • His actions contrasted sharply with her promises.
  • Her photos revealed how much weight she lost by contrasting the “before” and “after” shots.

Key Differences

  1. Compare means to see the similarity conversely contrast means to see the difference.
  2. Compare is used with two different things on the flip side contrast is used with two similar things
  3. Compare means to represent things or objects in respect of similarity whereas contrast means to represent things in respect of differences.
  4. Compare looks at both similarities and differences on the other hand contrast only looks at the differences.
  5. Compare is a verb only, and contrast is both a noun and a verb.

Conclusion

Compare and contrasts are the terms which are seen in most writings to compare and contrast between the things and the concepts.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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