Consider the following example: "there is a relationship between cats and dogs and bears". How can this be punctuated/worded so that it is clear that the comparison is between [cats and dogs] and [bears]?

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    You could rearrange your sentence: "Cats and dogs have a relationship with bears." – Kevin Workman Jan 9 '14 at 18:58
  • Thanks, but that won't really work. The text should indicate a relationship found in data, like a statistical relationship, not just similarity. – nxx Jan 9 '14 at 18:59
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    Well it depends on your context, but you might try something like "The data show that cats and dogs have a relationship with bears". Again it depends on your context though, so that might not work. – Kevin Workman Jan 9 '14 at 19:03
  • It's not a very good example, since obviously there is also a relationship between cats and dogs, between dogs and bears, etc. Better would be something like There is one big difference between cats and dogs and dolphins. But even that could be interpreted ambiguously, by someone who was thinking in terms of which animal to use for D in an "illustrated alphabet for children". – FumbleFingers Jan 9 '14 at 19:05
  • "The relationship cats and dogs have with bears can be shown..."? – anongoodnurse Jan 9 '14 at 19:06

I've seen vis-à-vis used in such contexts. Eg:

There is a relationship of cats and dogs vis-à-vis bears.

I think the intended meaning then is quite clear, but perhaps some sticklers will find fault with the construction, perceiving it as redundant. (Vis-à-vis means “in relation to; compared with”.)

| improve this answer | |
  • 'versus' is a bit less exotic and also works. – Oldcat Jan 9 '14 at 22:30

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