Comparison





Comparison of Apples and Oranges is another type of mistake that we normally commit in English.

Consider this sentence.

• Detective novel by Agatha Christie have more complicated plots that Earle Stanley Gardner.

The use of the phrase ‘more than’ implies that this sentence seeks to compare two different items X and Y.

What is X in this sentence?

‘Detective novels by Agatha Christie’ is X.

What is Y?

‘Earle Stanley Gardner’ is Y.

The intention of the author, obviously, is to compare the detective novels of Agatha Christie with the detective novels of Earle Stanley Gardner.

But, in the sentence written by him, he has ended up comparing the detective novels of Agatha Christie with Earle Stanley Gardner himself.

This is popularly known as the error of comparing apples and oranges.

That means that the apples should be compared only with apples, not with oranges.

This sentence is corrected as:

• Detective novel by Agatha Christie have more complicated plots that those by Earle Stanley Gardner.

This sentence does the Comparison neatly.

Though this error is obvious, you will find this type of error in newspaper and magazines.

Example-1:

• The effect of earthquake that caused most of Port Royal to sink into the Caribbean was like the eruption that buried ancient Pompeii: In each case a slice of civilization was instantly frozen in time.

X is the effect of earthquake while Y is eruption.

The author of this sentence intends to compare the effects of earthquake and the effects of eruption.

But in this sentence, he has ended up comparing the effects of the earthquake with the eruption itself, giving rise to the ‘apples and oranges’ situation.

So the correct sentence is:

• The earthquake that caused most of Port Royal to sink into the Caribbean was, in its effects, like the eruption that buried ancient Pompeii: In each case a slice of civilization was instantly frozen in time.

This sentence does the Comparison neatly.

Here you could find the apples are compared with only apples.

Example-2:

• The use of Chemical pesticides in this country is equally extensive or more so than ten years ago.

Here X is ‘use of Chemical pesticides’ whereas Y is ‘ten years ago’.

The author intends to compare ‘use of Chemical pesticides at present’ with ‘use of Chemical pesticides ten years ago’.

So the correct sentence is:

• The use of Chemical pesticides in this country is as extensive as it was ten year ago, if not more so.

This sentence does the Comparison neatly.

Example-3:

• Increases in the cost of energy, turmoil in the international money market, and the steady erosion of the dollar have altered the investment strategies of USA corporations more radically than foreign corporations.

Here X is ‘the investment strategies of USA corporations’ whereas Y is ‘foreign corporations’

The author intends to compare ‘the investment strategies of USA corporations’ with ‘those of foreign corporations.

So the correct sentence is:

• Increases in the cost of energy, turmoil in the international money market, and the steady erosion of the dollar have altered the investment strategies of USA corporations more radically than those of foreign corporations.

This sentence does the Comparison neatly.

These examples might have made the point very clear that only apples should be compared with apples.




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