Fixing Faulty Comparisons

My hair is longer than my sister.

OK, maybe this one is kind of obvious: The comparison is between one’s hair and the height of one’s sister, not the length of the sister’s hair. Of course if you’re an adult and your sister is a baby this might be true, but let’s assume that wasn’t the sentence’s intention.

Like so many things in English, we speak incorrect comparisons every day–and are readily understood–but it’s best not to write with them. So how would we correct the above comparison? We could write:

My hair is longer than my sister’s hair. Or we could imply the word “hair” by writing: My hair is longer than my sister’s. Pretty simple, right? Let’s look at some more examples.

The weather in Malaysia is warmer than South Korea.

We just compared the weather in Malaysia to the entire country of South Korea. Again, easy to miss, but also easy to fix: The weather in Malaysia is warmer than the weather in South Korea. Or: Malaysia’s weather is warmer than South Korea’s. We could also consider: Malaysia’s weather is warmer than that of South Korea. Not quite as smooth as the former two, but still clearer than the original.

Now let’s look back at the comparison in my previous post:

We care about results just as much as you.

Did you figure out what’s being compared? It’s implied that: We care about results just as much as we care about you. Not a winning company tagline when you think about it, but a super-easy fix: We care about results just as much as you do. Add that one little verb and it’s as clear as a crystal.

Think you’re ready to test your comparison knowledge? Here’s a quick quiz.

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One thought on “Fixing Faulty Comparisons

  1. Call me sad but I’ve always loved comparatives v superlatives. Funnily enough other people don’t seem so impressed, so I long ago stopped reminding them.

    Like

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