I get confused about what to put after the comparison signal words compared to and unlike. To be exact, what kind of information should I put after this introduction. For example, should I say:

[1a] Unlike A, B is better
[1b] Unlike A, A is worse.

[2a] Compared to A, B is better.
[2b] Compared to A, A is worse.

To be honest, 1a and 2a sound right to me, but not 1b and 2b.

  • You can't have two A's in the comparison. Do you mean [1b] Unlike B, A is worse and [2b] Compared to B, A is worse? – deadrat Jan 11 '17 at 3:52
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    I understand. Yet, there are people who use it that way. After the introduction (unlike A), they try to provide information abt A. A real example is, unlike other universities, attendance over there is not seriously taken. – user214567 Jan 11 '17 at 3:58
  • That's not an example. A = other universities, B = over there; no one would interpret A as the same as B. 1b and 2b say that A is worse than A, which is an impossibility. – deadrat Jan 11 '17 at 4:06
  • I guess that's because I didn't provide the whole context. Yet, the truth is that attendance over there here means attendance at other universities, and that is A. Anyway, I think I got the point now. Thank you! – user214567 Jan 11 '17 at 4:17

When you are using compared to or unlike you are comparing two or more things.

First of all looking at your initial question, when saying something like

Unlike A, A is worse


Compared to A, A is better

you are starting the statement with comparing A but then you are comparing A with itself. For example

Unlike the summer, the summer is warm.

This would be interpreted to be that the summer is warm but then summer is cold.

When using compared to, you are generally comparing similar items.

Compared to the yellow bowl of soup, the red one is hotter.

In other words,

The yellow bowl of soup is hot, but the red one is hotter.

Unlike is generally used when comparing things which are very different.

Unlike the yellow bowl of soup, the red one is hot

would be interpreted that the yellow bowl of soup is cold, whereas the red one is hot.

To use the earlier summer comparison again, we could say

Unlike the winter, the summer is warm.

The reason why I have said these are generally the way these comparative phrases are constructed, is because there are exceptions. You can use either compared to or unlike when the compared items are usually the same or usually different. However you would swap the compared items and its comparison.

Compared to the shop's own brand, the named brand is usually more expensive.


Unlike the named brand, the shop's own brand is usually cheaper.

  • @user214567 - That's great. Just pointing out that I made an edit to point out an exception to the generally constructed comparison phrases. – Chris Rogers Jan 11 '17 at 4:28

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