English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I think of expressing that two things are similar by using the word of similarity. I know I can say 'A bears some similarity to B'. Can I also say 'A bears some similarity with B'? If both are correct, is there any difference?

share|improve this question

Both are found, but there is no obvious difference in meaning. Similarity to is the preferred construction in both American and British English. The Corpus of Contemporary American English has 332 records for similarity to and 52 for similarity with. The figures for the British National Corpus show a less pronounced preference, but, with corresponding figures of 105 and 34, it is still significant.

The Oxford English Dictionary supports this finding with 103 citations for similarity to and only 14 for similarity with.

share|improve this answer
I depend on Longman dictionary too much. I have been using it for nearly ten years. The question arises when I read it and it does not offer frequency of these collocations. Besides, I invented the sentence of 'A bears some similarity with B'. Longman dictionary provides other example of similarity with. – Jiancheng Zou Feb 1 '13 at 1:57
Having read Barrie's answer, I believe both expression are correct. 'A bears some similarity with B' may not sound authentic though. My lessons are, 1. not limited to one dictionary; 2. try to copy and use the word/collocation in the exact same as what is in dictionary. – Jiancheng Zou Feb 1 '13 at 2:00

Similarity to is the more idiomatic in your example, but similarity with would be used if you were referring to shared similarities:

A shares some similarities with B.

share|improve this answer
There's a distinct air of tautology about "sharing similarity", as borne out by the fact that shares some similarity with is ten times less common than has some similarity with in Google Books. – FumbleFingers Jan 31 '13 at 15:34
These phrases are sensitive to pluralization and the use of some. Half as common: shares some similarities with; Almost as common: shares similarities with – deadly Jan 31 '13 at 15:44
Ah. I hadn't really registered the fact that you'd pluralised the noun as well as changed the verb. Yes, that same reduction in the preference for to occurs on Google Books, where has similarities with returns 53K hits against 90K for has similarities to. But to my mind, if they're "shared", they're really common characteristics, not similarities. – FumbleFingers Jan 31 '13 at 15:59

We usually say 'similar to' so the first sentence is the better one, but the second one could also be used. It would probably depend on the context of the items/situations being compared.

share|improve this answer
I'd say that similarity to is more common and idiomatic in American English. Similarity with sounds strange to me. I don't recognize it as native-speaker English. – user21497 Jan 31 '13 at 5:48
The wordings go 'similar to' or compared with' when using those. – amanda witt Jan 31 '13 at 5:54
The OP asked about "'A bears some similarity to B'. Can I also say 'A bears some similarity with B'?" He didn't ask about "'similar to' or 'compared with'", so I'm missing your point here. – user21497 Jan 31 '13 at 6:02

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.