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How Do Things Compare? Talking About Equality

Image representing students learning how and when to use formal and informal English

Comparing different objects, places or people is an everyday part of the English language. From comparing how something looks, to describing an action, you’ll want to use this form in lots of different ways.

So how do you compare things in English? Read on to find out!

By saying things are similar

Saying something is “similar” in English means that they are not quite identical – but have a lot in common. It’s a good way to give an approximate comparison between different things, as it shows someone what characteristics they share.

You can describe similarity by using the words “as” or “like”.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

“She was as elegant as a supermodel at the dinner party.”

“He ate just like an animal – he was so hungry!”

These words are used to create similes – phrases that describe a shared characteristic. They’re not always completely literal – sometimes they are used in an exaggerated way to emphasise a point.

For example:

“Her neck is so long, she looks like a giraffe.”

You can also use the words “too”, “as well” or “also” to show that something is similar, as these words express that a quality is being repeated.

For example:

“He was eating early, so I had my lunch as well.”

“The buses were late, and the train was too.”

By saying things are the same

Another way of expressing a comparison between things is by saying that they are the same as something else. You can do this by using the phrase “as…as”.

For example:

“He is just as tall as his older brother.”

You can also use the “as…as” phrase to compare different quantities. In this case, you often use quantity expressions such as “much” or “many” with it.

For example:

“A train ticket costs just as much as a flight nowadays.”

“There are as many people in one city as there are in the rest of the country.”

Using negatives

You can also use comparison forms in a negative way, to show when things aren’t equal or similar.

To do this, simply include the verb “to be” and the word “not” into the comparison phrase.

For example:

“She is not like her mother at all.”

“I’m not as strong as I used to be.”

You can also use any comparison phrase in other tenses, including the past or future tense. To do this, you only need to modify the verb being used – you don’t need to change the comparison part at all.

For example:

“The tiger cubs were playing just like little kittens.”

“When you grow older, you will become as serious as your father.”

Your turn

Comparing is a great way of adding variety and interest to your use of the English language. Try practicing these comparison phrases in different ways – see how you can describe the things you see and do around you, by comparing it to someone else. Don’t forget to try negative forms as well, to show how things differ!