Solving Off-Duty Grammar Riddles
One of my marketing friends called me the other night with another grammar conundrum. It wouldn’t be the first time. I think he’s got me on speed dial. Other friends call to share entertaining news and highlights from their lives, but this one relies on me to demystify the English language.
His most recent dilemma was whether to use “compared to” or “compared with” in a sentence.
Contrary to popular opinion, these words are not interchangeable. When two or more items are in the same class or category, use “compared to.” She compared her work to save gorillas to Dian Fossey’s efforts to study gorillas in Rwanda.
Use “compared with” when juxtaposing two or more items to highlight similarities and/or differences. The inflation rate is 5.6 percent, compared with last year’s 12.3 percent.
Whether I’m on or off the clock, I don’t mind when people call me with grammar, style and punctuation questions. It’s flattering, actually. But don’t worry; I won’t do to you what one of my J-school professors used to do. She would walk up to students who were having casual conversations and interrupt them to correct their grammar. I’m way more fun than that!