Compare and Contrast in English

Using the right words and phrases can help you express your ideas in English. To describe your thoughts and ideas, you can compare and contrast.

In English, you can use certain words to compare people, things, or ideas to show how they are similar or the same. You can also use certain words to contrast, or tell how people, things, or ideas are different.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

To begin, you should know the definitions of compare and contrast.

Compare and contrast are both verbs


To compare is to tell how two or more things are similar or the same.

Similar people‬‏

The men all have blue shirts and red vests.
The men are all wearing brown hats.
The men all have mustaches.


To contrast is to tell how two or more things are different.

different people‬‏

Three people are taller than the others.
Two people are shorter than the others.
Only one person has blond hair.
Only one man has red hair.
There are three women but only two men.

Words and phrases that compare

You can use these words and phrases to compare (tell similarities):

  • also

  • as well as

  • both

  • in common

  • in comparison

  • like

  • too

  • same as

  • similar

  • similarly

Read this paragraph using comparison words and phrases.

girl jumping‬‏girl‬‏

Lisa and Janet have many things in common. They are very similar. They are both good athletes. Lisa likes to play basketball. Janet also likes to play basketball. Lisa has a dog, and Janet has a dog too. Janet enjoys playing piano. Similarly, Lisa also studies piano. Lisa has three brothers. Janet has three brothers as well.

Words and phrases that contrast

You can use these words or phrases to contrast (tell differences):

  • as opposed to

  • but

  • contrary to

  • differ

  • different from

  • however

  • on the other hand

  • unlike

  • while

Read this paragraph that uses contrasting words and phrases.

three kids‬‏

Mrs. Smith has three children. They are each different. Tommy and John are the boys. Tommy likes to be outside and play baseball or football. John is different from Tommy because he enjoys staying inside playing video games. On the other hand, Mary does not like baseball, football, or video games. Mary enjoys studying and reading. The two boys have birthdays in December, while Mary’s birthday is in July. Mary loves chocolate ice cream, but Tommy loves vanilla ice cream. John is unlike the other two because he doesn’t even like ice cream!

Compare and contrast in English

This paragraph compares and contrasts the American Flag and the British Flag. The comparison words and phrases are red. The contrasting words and phrases are blue.

USA flag

The American Flag and the British Flag are similar in some ways. They have the same colors: blue, red, and white. They are also the same size. However, the American Flag differs from the British Flag because the American Flag has 50 stars. The American Flag has 13 red and white stripes and a blue square and stars in the corner. Contrary to the American Flag, the British Flag has a red cross on a white field with the Union Flag in the background.

UK flag

Comparatives and Superlatives

Comparatives and superlatives are types of adjectives and adverbs that can be used to compare two or more things or people.

Read our illustrated lesson here: Comparatives and Superlatives.

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