Comparing and contrast 1
1 what you say when comparing things or people
compared to/with used when comparing things or people, especially when comparing numbers or amounts:
• This years profits are much higher compared to last years.
• The average male now has a life expectancy of 77.6 years, compared with 75 in 1960.
• Total spending on health care represents about 4 percent of GDP. Compared to most other advanced economies, that figure is low.
• Mortality rates are lower for women as compared with men.
by comparison/in comparison when compared with another thing, person etc:
• Young male drivers have far more accidents by comparison with other groups.
• Wages are low in comparison with the US.
• In his early pictures he used rather dull colours. His later work is much brighter in comparison.
• The amount of money spent on advertising milk pales in comparison to (=is much less than) the money spent on advertising beer.
next to/beside preposition used when comparing things or people, especially when there is a surprising difference between them:
• Our problems seem trivial next to those faced by people in the developing world.
• Their achievements pale beside his. (=they seem much less important)
as against/as opposed to conjunction used when you are comparing two figures or pieces of information, in order to show how they are different:
• The company achieved sales of $404 million, as against $310 million in the previous year.
• One study predicted that 42% of female university graduates would remain single the rest of their lives, as opposed to just 5% of male graduates.
unlike preposition used when saying that people or things are different:
• Unlike his brother, he had no interest in music.
• The drug has very few side effects, unlike other drugs that are used to treat this illness.
in contrast/by contrast used when mentioning the difference between two things, people, countries etc that you are comparing:
• In contrast to the south of the island, the north is still untouched by tourism.
• The US and Australia, in contrast with most other leading industrialized nations, chose not to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
• Studies show that each execution costs $3.5 million. By contrast it costs about $600,000 to keep someone in prison for life.
in proportion to/in relation to used when considering the relationship between the amount or size of something compared to another thing:
• People from Sweden pay the highest rates of tax in proportion to their incomes.
• His head is big in proportion to the rest of his body.
• Britains national debt was greater than that of the US in relation to the size of its economy.
relative adjective used when comparing the amount of something that someone or something has, with others of the same type:
• In his article he compares the relative merits of living in the countryside and living in a big city.
• It is too early to make a judgement about the relative importance of these different factors.
• How do we account for the relative lack of women studying physics at university?
Comparing and contrast 2
2 to compare things or people
compare verb [transitive] to examine or consider two or more things or people, in order to show how they are similar or different:
• A study by Nottingham University compared the cost of recycling plastic bags with making them from scratch.
• Galileo compared the time it took for different types of object to fall to the ground.
• The graph compares the number of students joining the university to study history and chemistry.
make/draw a comparison to compare two or more things or people and say how they are similar:
• In her article, she makes a comparison between peoples lives now and 50 years ago.
• It is possible to draw a comparison between the two poets work.
STUDY NOTE: Grammar
Draw a comparison is more formal than make a comparison.
draw an analogy to say that two situations are similar:
• Some people have attempted to draw an analogy between Americas invasion of Iraq and the war in Vietnam.
draw a parallel to say that some aspects of two very different things are similar:
• The writer draws a parallel between Henry Jamess elaborate style of writing and the ingenious patterns and curious details in Mintons paintings.
• Parallels can be drawn between her work and that of Picasso.
liken somebody/something to phrasal verb to say that someone or something is similar to another person or thing:
• Gambling is often likened to drug addiction.
• Critics have likened the play to Arthur Millers work.
contrast verb [transitive] to compare two things, situations etc, in order to show how they are different from each other:
• In her novel she contrasts the lives of two families in very different circumstances.
make/draw a distinction between to say that you think two things are very different:
• It is important to make a distinction between peoples fears about crime and the real situation.
• The author draws a distinction between allowing death to occur, and causing it.
STUDY NOTE: Grammar
Draw a distinction is more formal than make a distinction.
Giving opinion 1
1 what you say when giving your opinion about something
in my opinion/in my view used when giving your opinion about something:
• Their concerns are, in my opinion, fully justified.
• In my opinion, the cathedral is one of the worlds most beautiful churches.
• In my view, the court made the right decision.
STUDY NOTE: Grammar
Dont say According to my opinion when you mean in my opinion.
I think that used when giving your opinion about something:
• I think that everyone should be able to own their own home.
• I think that hunting should be banned.
STUDY NOTE: Grammar
In formal essay writing, people often try to avoid using phrases with ‘I’ or me, and use more impersonal phrases such as in this writer’s view or in this writers opinion.
When you are writing essays, it is a good idea to quote another writer to support your argument, rather than just say I think that ... This will give your argument much more authority. For example: As Hobsbawm (1969) has pointed out, the rise of the cotton industry created a huge demand for cotton goods.
in this writer’s view/opinion used in formal essays when giving your opinion:
• In this writers view, the present system is in need of reform.
• In this writers opinion, the arguments against using nuclear energy are overwhelming.
it seems to me that used when saying that you think that something is probably true. You use this especially when you have considered a situation carefully and want to give your overall opinion about it:
• It seems to me that there is some truth in her argument.
I believe that used about strongly held beliefs, for example about moral issues:
• I believe that the death penalty is morally wrong.
Giving opinion 2
2 ways of saying what another person’s opinion is
somebodys opinion/view is that used when saying what another writers opinion is about something:
• The judges opinion was that she was fit to stand trial.
• His view is that consumers should be told the whole truth about the product they are buying.
• The general opinion is that the combined vaccine works better. (=most people think this)
in somebodys opinion/view used when saying what another writers opinion is about something:
• The important thing, in Galileos opinion, was to accept the facts and build a theory to fit them.
• Criticism is quite different, in Barthess view, from ordinary reading.
• In his opinion, the portrait painter seeks to capture the moment when the model looks most like himself or herself.
be of the opinion that/take the view that to have a particular opinion. These are formal phrases:
• Until then, most scientists were of the opinion that these variations in weather were compatible with established climate patterns.
• Levitt takes the view that low prices are the key to marketing success.
have/hold an opinion to have a particular opinion:
• Everybody has a different opinion of what America represents.
• They held the same opinions on many issues.
• Voters tend to have a low opinion of politicians. (=think they are not very good)
• Teenage girls generally have a higher opinion of themselves as learners than boys, according to a recent study. (=they think that they are better)
for somebody preposition used when saying what someones opinion is, especially when this is a general opinion which also affects their other ideas about a subject. For somebody is usually used at the beginning of a sentence:
• For Chomsky, language is an abstract system of rules which is used by human minds for transmitting and receiving ideas.
• For Vygotsky, social factors play a fundamental role in intellectual development.
as far as somebody is concerned used when you want to emphasize that you are talking about the opinion of a particular person or group:
• As far as he was concerned, the failure showed the limits of military intervention.
• The election was a formality as far as the ruling party was concerned.
from sb’s point of view used when saying what someones reaction to something is, based on how it affects them:
• From their point of view, the system worked quite well.
• It is important to consider the situation from the point of view of the ordinary man in the street.
Writing about advantages
advantage noun [countable] a good feature that something has, which makes it better, more useful etc than other things:
• The great advantage of digital cameras is that there is no film to process.
• The advantage of using a specialist firm is that the people who work there have years of experience.
• One of the big advantages of this type of engine is that it is smaller and lighter than a conventional petrol engine.
• The university has the advantage of being one of the oldest and best respected in the country.
• The movement of the sea is predictable. This gives wave power a distinct advantage over (=an obvious advantage compared to) wind power.
• Despite a few problems with the design, the cars advantages clearly outweigh its disadvantages. (=the problems are not enough to stop it being a good car)
benefit noun [countable] a feature of something that has a good effect on peoples lives:
• Regular exercise has many benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease.
• Modern technology has brought great benefits to mankind.
• There has been a great deal of research into the potential benefits of using genetically modified crops.
merit noun [countable] a good feature that something has, which you consider when you are deciding whether it is the best choice:
• The committee will consider the merits of the proposals.
• In her book, she discusses the relative merits of the two political systems. (=she compares the features that they have)
• The merits and demerits of (=the good and bad features of) alternative funding systems were widely discussed in the newspapers.
• The chairman saw no great merit in this suggestion. (=he did not think that it was a good idea)
good point noun [countable] a good feature that something has:
• One of the good points about the car is that it is easy to drive.
• Each system has its good and bad points.
plus point noun [countable] a good feature that something has:
• The small but powerful battery is another of the cameras many plus points.
• The estate agents leaflet said a major plus point was the recently modernized kitchen.
the good/great/best thing about used when mentioning a good feature of something:
• The great thing about living in a city is that you can go shopping at almost any hour of the day or night.
• Her wicked sense of humour was the best thing about her.
• The good thing about cycling is that you dont have to worry about getting stuck in a traffic jam.
STUDY NOTE: Grammar
the good/great/best thing about is rather informal. Dont use it in formal essays.
the beauty of something is that used when you want to emphasize that something has a very good or useful feature:
• The beauty of the design is that it is so simple.
Writing about disadvantages
disadvantage noun [countable] a bad feature that something has, which makes it less good, less useful etc than other things:
• The main disadvantage of this book is its price.
• These vaccines have two serious disadvantages. Firstly, they are not 100% effective, and secondly, they are expensive to make.
• A major disadvantage of using large quantities of chemicals is that they quickly get absorbed into soil.
drawback noun [countable] a disadvantage which makes you think that something is not so good, even though it has other advantages:
• The major drawback of this method is that it can be very time-consuming.
• Aluminium is very light and also very strong. Its main drawback is that it cools down very rapidly.
• Summer in the Scottish islands can be beautiful. The only drawback is the weather, which can be very changeable.
downside noun [singular] the disadvantage of a situation that in most other ways seems good or enjoyable:
• The downside of running your own business is that you are responsible if anything goes wrong.
• Everyone wants to be rich and famous, but it does have its downside.
• Most comfort eaters enjoy what they eat, but the downside is that they soon start to put on weight.
bad point noun [countable] a bad feature that something has:
• There are good points and bad points about single sex schools.
• For all its bad points, and there are many, it is still the best software system of its kind available.
1 what you say when you are explaining something
this means that/which means that used when saying what the results or effects of what you have just said are:
• Computer technology is constantly being improved. This means that the computer that you have just bought will probably be out of date in only a few months time.
• There is a shortage of hospital doctors, which means that patients often have to wait a long time for treatment.
• The banks current interest rate is 3.5%. This means that for every £100 you have in your savings account, you will get £3.50 in interest.
STUDY NOTE: Grammar
You use This means that at the beginning of a sentence. You use which means that at the beginning of a clause.
that is used when explaining the meaning of the previous word or phrase, by giving more information:
• The book is about art in the modern period, that is, art since 1900.
• Her son suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. That is, he finds it difficult to pay attention or stay quiet for more than a short period of time.
ie/i.e. used when explaining the meaning of the previous word or phrase, by giving more information:
• The new law will come into force at the end of next month, ie March 31st.
• There has been a decline in the number of good jobs, i.e. ones that are highly skilled and well-paid.
STUDY NOTE: Grammar
ie is the abbreviation for id est, which is Latin for that is.
In formal essay writing, it is usually better to use that is.
in other words/to put it another way used when saying something in a different way, either in order to explain it more clearly, or to emphasize the point that you want to make:
• Average incomes fell, while the incomes of the top 20 percent of the population increased. In other words, the rich got richer.
• In a democracy, the government must be accountable to the people. The people should, in other words, be able to get rid of their rulers through elections.
• Using this software would offer a 15% saving in space. To put it another way, this will mean an extra 12Gb free on an 80Gb disk.
to put it simply used when saying something in a simple way so that the reader can understand what you mean:
• What the treatment aims to do, to put it simply, is to make the skin grow back over the wound.
• A romantic novel should demand a certain level of emotional involvement on the part of the reader. To put it simply, the novel should not just describe a love relationship; it should allow the reader to participate in it.
specifically adverb used when saying exactly what you are referring to, when you are explaining something:
• Several prisoners reported some kind of physical abuse. Specifically, 42 were beaten; eight were roughly handled; and four more were forced to remain standing for hours at a time.
• What we need is a stable economic climate that encourages companies to invest on a long-term basis. More specifically, we need to get rid of the current high taxes on investment income.
2 words meaning to explain something
explain verb [intransitive and transitive] to give someone the information that they need in order to understand something:
• He was the first scientist to explain how the process of evolution works.
• The book begins by explaining the difference between psychology and psychiatry.
• There are a number of theories which seek to explain why (=try to explain why) zebras have stripes.
give/offer/provide an explanation to explain something:
• He attempts to give a simple explanation of his theory.
• It is possible that some recent research by NASA scientists could offer an explanation for this phenomenon.
• They were unable to provide a satisfactory explanation for their behaviour.
set out phrasal verb to explain facts, reasons, plans etc by stating them clearly and in a carefully planned order:
• He sets out his plans for an ideal Roman city in the first volume of his work.
• The document sets out exactly how the money will be spent.
go through phrasal verb to explain all the details about something in the right order, so that someone can understand it:
• She begins her article by going through all the reasons why people have opposed the use of nuclear energy.
outline verb [transitive] to explain the main ideas about something, without giving all the details:
• In his introduction, Piaget outlines the four main stages in a childs development.
• The purpose of this chapter is to outline the basic principles which form the foundations of the English legal system.
expand on phrasal verb to add more details or information to what has already been said:
• Melville saw the ocean as the source of all life. He expands on this idea in his novel, Moby Dick.
• The author expands on this theme at length (=writes a lot about it).
clarify verb [transitive] to make something clearer:
• This chapter aims to clarify some of the most important issues in genetics today.
• In his speech the prime minister attempted to clarify his position on economic reform.