When do we use the word compare


The comparison is a rhetorical stylistic device that is used in works of all literary genres. A comparison is the direct juxtaposition of two or more facts, objects or linguistic images that have at least one thing in common. Comparisons are mostly made with the words as and how introduced and can serve as an illustration in rhetoric as well as reinforce a train of thought or describe an object in more detail.

Examples and forms

Comparisons can be made in two different ways: (1) Either an object is compared with another that is similar to this due to its nature, because it belongs to the same species, or comes from a similar environment, or (2) the comparison is made between objects belonging to different areas. In both cases there is at least one thing in common.

(1)Magdalena is as beautiful as Rebekah.

In the example above the two people are compared. The signal word is that How, which connects the so-called Relata. We are also dealing with the first variant of the comparison. Because the two people very likely belong to the same species and are therefore compared on the basis of a property that has similar characteristics in both.

This form is mostly used to simply juxtapose two objects. Stylistically, this way has hardly any relevance, since it is more about a contrastive juxtaposition, whereby no linguistic image is created, but simply juxtaposed. However, this happens in the second example.

(2)Hercules was as strong as a bull.

In this example two objects are compared with each other that actually have little to do with each other. The first term means a person or demigod, whereas the other means an animal. As a result, humans and animals are equated and juxtaposed in order to create a heightened visual quality. The characteristics of the Taurus are therefore transferred to Hercules.

The previous examples are simple sentences, which present the comparison very clearly. Basically, the objects that are being compared do not have to follow one another directly, but can also be compared with one another across several linguistic corners. Let's look at an example.

To the beautiful daughter of a bad poet.
The father rhymes and seeks everyone
Quite a few connoisseurs to please.
The daughter woos: o! do not punish them!
The good child wants everyone
Like her father's rhyme, please.

The above verses are an epigram by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Here, too, the two relata, i.e. daughter and rhyme, become through the word How connected to each other and thus brought to one level. The effect of the comparison is shifted into the comic or funny because it is unexpected and connects objects that at first glance do not allow a comparison.

Note: In all examples there is always something in common, on the basis of which the objects are compared with one another. In the first, it's the adjectivebeautiful, in the second strong, at the epigram the desire to please. These words, which allow comparison, are called tertium comparationis denotes what is with the third of the comparison can be translated and indicates what is being compared at all.
However, comparisons can also be made without tertium comparationis get along. In the 1980s, the phrase “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bike” became popular in the wake of the women's movement. No third element is mentioned here, but it can be deduced that women don't need a man any more than fish need a bicycle. However, this is not “said” in the sentence.

Parable and comparison

The stylistic device is very reminiscent of the rhetorical figure of the parable. In fact, the parable is a special case of comparison that juxtaposes several objects to illustrate.

The example sentences or excerpts presented juxtaposed two objects. They thus followed pattern A and B behave as follows with regard to C. That's one woman (A) more beautiful (C) than the other woman (B). But if several objects are compared A., A. and A. relate to B., B. and B. in relation to the comparative moment C.then it is a parable. Let's look at an example.

Parable of the prodigal son(Folds out when you click!)

Gospel according to Luke 15: 1-10.

All tax collectors and sinners came to him to hear him. The Pharisees and the scribes were outraged and said: He associates with sinners and even eats with them. Then he told them a parable and said:

If one of you has a hundred sheep and you lose one, don't you leave the ninety-nine on the steppes and go after the lost one until you find it? And when he has found it, he takes it on his shoulders with joy, and when he comes home he calls his friends and neighbors together and says to them: Rejoice with me; I've found my sheep that was lost.

I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over a single sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.

Or if a woman has ten drachmas and loses one of them, doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the whole house, and search tirelessly until she finds the coin? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says: Rejoice with me; I have found the drachma that I lost.

I say to you: In the same way, there is joy among the angels of God over a single sinner who repents.

  • The comparison is not made between individual moments, but on the basis of complex images. Thus the joy of the shepherd and the woman is equated with the angels who rejoice over the individual in the kingdom of heaven.

  • It is noticeable that the Relata thus consist of several individual moments (Someone loses, someone finds again, someone is happy about it) and at the moment of comparison (Joy about "finding") find each other.

Effect and function of the comparison

Basically, it is difficult to ascribe a unique function or effect to a stylistic device that is correct in every case. However, style figures are usually used for a specific reason, which must be checked in the respective text. Nevertheless, we would like to give some advice.

Overview: Meaning, characteristics and effect of the style figure
  • The comparison always means a form of juxtaposing two or more objects that have something in common. This common is made by the comparative moment (tertium comparationis) specified. This may or must be specified by the recipient (Reader, listener) can be thought of independently.
  • The stylistic device is often used to illustrate something or to define an object even more closely and precisely. Similar objects are usually compared in everyday life. In the literature, however, the unknown can also be explained in this way; for example, if Hercules is as strong as a Taurus, the reader has a rough idea of ​​the strength.
  • The parable is a special form. This also serves to illustrate an abstract issue. Hence the comparison is also related to allegory and metaphor. The metaphor is even referred to as an abbreviated comparison because it lacks the element of comparison (Example: Hercules is a bull → has to be developed).