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Comparison

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Comparison

Harder, better, faster, stronger. These are examples of words you would use in a comparison. When writing an essay, you will frequently use comparison to highlight your evidence and bolster your thesis. The importance of using comparison in your essay is to explain the way your arguments fit into the big picture. Work harder, organize better, type faster, and write stronger.

Comparison Meaning

Comparisons can be broken down grammatically and logically.

A comparison aims to measure the similarities of two or more things.

In doing so, a comparison can highlight contrasts as well. This is why, sometimes, you will see comparisons paired with contrasts rhetorically.

When writing an essay, you will use comparison in a grammatical manner in order to create logical arguments. Start with understanding the grammar.

Types of Comparisons in English Grammar

There are two types of comparison in English grammar: the comparative and the superlative.

Comparative comparisons indicate a relationship of more or less between two things.

Here is an example of a comparative comparison.

The Enterprise is a larger ship than the Voyager.

On the other hand...

Superlative comparisons indicate a relationship of most or least within a group of things.

Here is an example of a superlative comparison.

The Enterprise is the largest ship in the fleet.

In these examples, follow the adjective (large). This is where you can find the type of comparison being made!

An adjective describes a noun (a person, place, thing, or idea).

That said, you can also see this kind of comparison in adverbs.

Adverbs of Comparison

Also called comparative adverbs, adverbs of comparison occur in the same two familiar forms: comparative and superlative.

An adverb describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb.

Take the adverb, “hardily.” Here is it used in a comparative comparison.

The dwarf ate more hardily than the other adventurers.

Take a different adverb, “lively.” Here it is used in a superlative comparison.

During the dance, the dwarf was the least lively member of the gang.

Importance of Using Comparison in Your Essay

Now that the various kinds of grammatical comparisons are understood, it’s time to use them in your essay. Because comparisons highlight similarities and proportions in things, they are great for making a point. Here’s an example.

Bunting Beach has a rat problem. According to a study by RatMetric, Bunting Beach has the most rats per person among cities of its size.

Now imagine this as a thesis and a body paragraph. The thesis would be that Bunting Beach has a rat problem that needs to be fixed. This statistic would be the featured piece of evidence of a body paragraph. It would support the claim that Bunting Beach has a rat problem.

The comparison in this example helps to show scale and scope. Words like more, less, most, and least provide a point of reference. It tells you not only how many rats Bunting Beach has, but also how many more it has than other cities.

Comparison, rat problem example, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Comparatively, Hunting Beach has a rat problem.

Think of it this way. Which of these two examples has a greater persuasive impact?

The water supply in Windingo has a lead level in the drinking water of 100µg/dL. This has to change.

The water supply in Windingo has a lead level in the drinking water of 100µg/dL. This is 20 times more than is considered safe.

If your audience is not an expert in your topic, comparisons can provide common examples and easy-to-comprehend ratios. A comparison is an important tool for any essay writer because it allows the writer to frame their argument relative to the world.

Comparison Example (Essay)

Here is how you might use comparison in an English essay.

Although Robin Hood is meant to be the villain in this alternate retelling of the classic tale, he remains among the most charitable men in Nottingham. On page 129, Robin Hood gives five hundred coins to the sheriff’s daughter. Compare that to Sir Guy, the would-be hero. Through the first 300 pages, Sir Guy spends “nine-hundred coin on his attempts to thwart the royal suck-up, Robin Hood.” (302) If you tally up the monies that Sir Guy counts in his journal entries, Sir Guy stole 1245 coins. This means that he had more money than Robin Hood gave to the sheriff’s daughter—by over twice as much—and proceeded to squander 75% on futile attempts to stop the “green-capped cur.” At most, Sir Guy gave away 345 coins, and that’s assuming he had no other expenses and kept none for himself. Sir Guy certainly knows how to do less with more."

These comparisons are equally humorous and illuminating. The essayist compares the amount of money that Robin Hood and Sir Guy spend and concludes that despite Robin Hood being the villain of the book, he is more charitable than Sir Guy, the protagonist.

Comparison, Robin Hood example, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Use more and less to draw a startling comparison.

Your comparisons don’t have to deal with hard numbers like this, but numerical comparisons do make for persuasive writing.

Quantify your arguments if you can, to impart the power of numbers!

Tips for Using Comparison in Your Essay

However you write your comparisons, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Use a comparison to keep your reader in the loop. Think back to the lead example. Comparing the lead levels to the national average gave the reader needed context.

Use a comparison to show the scale and scope of your thesis. You can show how big and important something is by comparing it to something smaller. You can also show how small or insignificant something is by comparing it to something bigger.

When writing a comparison, stay relevant. Don’t compare your evidence to loosely related concepts and ideas. This could result in a rhetorical fallacy (logical fallacy).

When writing a comparison, be accurate. Keep your numbers and ideas straight. Again, when a comparison goes awry, you could end up writing something false.

Comparison - Key takeaways

  • A comparison aims to measure the similarities of two or more things.
  • Comparative comparisons indicate a relationship of more or less between two things.
  • Superlative comparisons indicate a relationship of most or least within a group of things.
  • A comparison is an important tool for any essay writer because it allows the writer to frame their argument relative to the world.
  • Use a comparison to keep your reader in the loop, and to show the scale and scope of your thesis.

Frequently Asked Questions about Comparison

A comparison aims to measure the similarities of two or more things.

Comparative and superlative. Comparative comparisons indicate a relationship of more or less between two things. Superlative comparisons indicate a relationship of most or least within a group of things.

According to a study by RatMetric, Bunting Beach has the most rats per person among cities of its size.

The comparison is an important tool for any essay writer because it allows the writer to frame their argument relative to the world.

Final Comparison Quiz

Question

What is a comparison?

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Answer

comparison aims to measure the similarities of two or more things.

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Question

Comparative comparisons indicate a relationship of _____ between two things.

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Answer

More or less

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Question

Superlative comparisons indicate a relationship of _____ within a group of things.


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Answer

Most or least

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Question

What is an adjective?

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Answer

An adjective describes a noun (a person, place, thing, or idea).

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Question

What suffix does the comparative adjective take?

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Answer

___-er (or more/less ___)

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Question

What suffix does the superlative adjective take?

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Answer

-est (or most/least ___)

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Question

Can adverbs be used in comparisons?

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Answer

Yes!

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Question

What is another name for "adverbs of comparison"?

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Answer

Comparative adverbs

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Question

What is an adverb?

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Answer

An adverb describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb.

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Question

What two words does an adverb use to indicate a comparative comparison?

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More and less.

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What two words does an adverb use to indicate a superlative comparison?


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Answer

Most and least.

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Question

A _____ is an important tool for any essay writer because it allows the writer to frame their argument relative to the world.


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Answer

Comparison

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Question

Use a comparison to show the _____ of your thesis.

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Answer

Scale and scope

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Question

If your comparison is not totally relevant to your topic, what problem do you risk?

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Answer

Using a rhetorical fallacy (logical fallacy).

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Question

Is this a comparative or superlative comparison?


"This coffee shop serves over 1000 customers a day. That's 400 more customers per day than the other coffee shops in town."

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Answer

Comparative

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Question

Is this a comparative or superlative comparison?


"This coffee shop serves over 1000 customers a day. It's the most popular coffee shop in the whole town."

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Superlative

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Question

Does this comparison use a comparative adjective or comparative adverb?


"This is the most successful coffee shop I've ever seen."

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Comparative adjective

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Does this comparison use a comparative adjective or comparative adverb?


"This coffee shop is run more efficiently than any other coffee shop I've been to."

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Comparative adverb

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Does this comparison use a comparative adjective or comparative adverb?


"Out of all the lattes I've ever ordered, this one is the tastiest."

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Answer

Comparative adjective

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