Can anyone explain the difference between by contrast and in contrast?
I don't think there is a difference in meaning, only in usage.
There is no difference in meaning. But usually:
In contrast + to/with + noun
By Contrast + subject of the sentence
Note: According to Longman Dictionary you can use "in contrast" + "(with/to)"
Example For "in contrast":
Examples For "by contrast":
The English make a distinction: in contrast is simply unlike; by contrast is unlike by comparison. Economist March 27th 1993, p. 92.
As a native English speaker, translator and proof reader, I prefer "in contrast", whereas "by contrast" always jars a little with me (I just came across it in a text I'm revising right now). I can't explain why and I don't know if there is a hard and fast rule (I doubt it), but that's my two cents. When in doubt, leave it out!
Both 'in contrast' and 'by contrast' are prepositional expressions. The usage is more versatile for 'in contrast' because it can be more naturally extended to include a substantive followed by 'to', to construct a more complex prepositional phrase with specific content, allowing one to use just one sentence instead of two
(1) "In contrast to bacterial infections diseases, viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics."
By contrast, 'By contrast' is more used as a simple prepositional expression in the sense of a modifying adverb, typically used to maintain the logical flow at the beginning of sentences:
(2) "Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. By contrast/(In contrast), viral infections do not respond to to this class of drugs".
Note that (2) requires two sentences to say the say the same thing.
In the usage (2) one sees both 'in' and 'by contrast'. However, editors at the leading British scientific journal NATURE, always correct 'in contrast' into 'by contrast' .
protected by tchrist Aug 13 at 19:52
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