Comparative or comparable?

05 Aug

I’ve had so many suggestions of troublesome pairs from people – but please keep them coming!  With some of the pairs, I know the distinction immediately (but I still look it up, just to make sure); with a few, I really don’t know the difference (and sometimes there isn’t one!); and with others, like this one, I know the difference and will happily write one or the other, or exchange one for the other in someone else’s text, but I need the might of the dictionary to help me define them.  So I’m never setting myself up as the expert here; I’m just trying to guide us all to simple distinctions to help with our writing and/or comprehension.  I’ve even changed a few posts as a result of readers’ comments!

Anyway, here we go with comparative vs. comparable.

Comparable – able to be likened to another, similar, of equivalent quality i.e. the same.  “Smith’s skills on the cricket pitch are comparable to those of the previous captain, Robinson.”

Comparative – measured or judged by comparison, relative i.e. different. “Joe’s performance is poor comparative to Bill’s, and Bill is likely to beat Joe in the next race if he doesn’t improve his time.”  You can replace “comparative to” with “in comparison with” and still get the same sense out of the sentence.

Comparative to other posts, this one has been fairly easy.  It’s comparable to, say, “disinterested or uninterested”, rather than one of the trickier ones.

You can find more troublesome pairs here.


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5 responses to “Comparative or comparable?

  1. Chan Tin Wing

    January 3, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you for explaining ! This really helps !


    • Liz Dexter

      January 3, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      You’re welcome, I’m glad I could help!


  2. Chisereu Claudiu (@clau5980)

    March 6, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks, this helped!

    Liked by 1 person


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