How would one go about concisely wording the sentence "compare X's Y to Z's Y." I've seen it done in a few ways:

  1. "compare X's Y to Z's Y" (e.g. "compare Mary's lamb to Phillip's lamb")
  2. "compare X's Y to Z's" (e.g. "compare Mary's lamb to Phillip's")
  3. "compare X's and Y's Zs" (e.g. "compare Mary's and Phillip's lambs")

However, all three of these sound slightly incorrect to me.

  • 2
    Personally I can't see anything wrong with option one, it's clear and unambiguous. Option two is a little shorter because the second property is implied rather than stated, but it could be considered a bit more ambiguous since the hearers could find themselves waiting for Philip's property and mentally asking "Philip's what?". However it is a standard way to ask the question. Option 3 is often used but I find it a bit awkward and, perhaps a bit stilted and old fashioned. I don't think there is a more efficient way to ask it. – BoldBen Mar 14 '20 at 7:22
  • I tend to agree that 1 is the best option. However, it could be very tedious to write sentences like this where Y is a property that is described in several words, i.e. "compare Mary's unidentified flying spacecraft to Phillip's unidentified flying spacecraft." However, after considering your answer, it seems like it is just a balance. – invertedPanda Mar 14 '20 at 8:03
  • I accept your point about possessions described by long phrases, in which case option 2 is probably the best. The worst thing to do is to say "Compare Mary and Philip's lambs' because "Mary and Philip's lambs" are lambs owned jointly by Mary and Philip. "Mary and Philip's children" are usually children whose parents are Mary and Philip. – BoldBen Mar 15 '20 at 0:21
  • How would one go about efficiently wording the sentence Could you expand upon what you mean by "efficiently"? – Greybeard Apr 13 '20 at 10:12
  • I've updated the question title to better express what I mean. – invertedPanda Apr 14 '20 at 3:17


Compare "X's" and "Z's" common trait.

  • It might help if you included a real world example. – KillingTime Mar 14 '20 at 7:38
  • Wouldn't the common trait just be Y? In which case, this only serves to bring us back to the initial problem. – invertedPanda Mar 14 '20 at 7:58
  • The quotes are just weird. Compare "invertedPanda's" and "Craig Kirby's" sentences. – CJ Dennis Mar 14 '20 at 22:36
  • I thought the point was to attempt to put the problem into efficient English rather than a formula. Sorry if I got hooked on the wording re: "wording". I figured the OP was searching for a word like "trait" to replace the Ys. This being the case, "trait" fits quite nicely, but to be honest, I'm not sure it's even English (although it is in the Cambridge Dictionary. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/trait – Craig Kirby Mar 17 '20 at 4:25
  • I used quotes because I was quoting someone. You used your's to be condescending. But it's all good. – Craig Kirby Mar 17 '20 at 4:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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