Posted by: Jack Henry | December 13, 2022

Editor’s Corner: Comparisons

Hey y’all! How goes it this lovely autumn morning?

I hope you are feeling happy and healthy and that you are ready for today’s topic: incomplete comparisons. An incomplete comparison is when—in an attempt to compare different things—part of the comparison is missing.

Example: My dog is bigger.

Your dog is bigger than what? My dog? Your neighbor’s dog? A chihuahua? A dining room table? You need that second part of the sentence to make the comparison complete.

Example: My dog is bigger than an Irish Wolfhound.

First, I highly doubt it. Second, I’ll give you some more examples below. Third, I will tell you a little secret: advertisers love incomplete comparisons because they are misleading. You might hear “Our product Tom’s Roach Killer is better!” This incomplete comparison leaves the statement irrefutable. Better than what? Well, they don’t tell you, so you can’t argue with them.

Here are some additional examples and the ways to correct the statements:

Incomplete: Our core solution is better. (Better than what?)

Complete: Our core solution is better than all of the other solutions out there.

Incomplete: John Grisham’s book The Firm is more interesting. (More interesting than what?)

Complete: John Grisham’s book The Firm is more interesting than his book The Testament.

Incomplete: Group A had twice as many test subjects. (More test subjects than whom?)

Complete: Group A had twice as many test subjects as Group B.

Incomplete: Azriel’s son is stronger. (Stronger than who or stronger than what?)

Complete: Azirel’s son is stronger than Tony’s daughter.

Complete: Azriel’s son is stronger than an Asian elephant.

Remember, if your intention is to compare two or more things but your comparison leaves people asking, “compared to what?” you may be missing the part of the sentence that provides the answer and completes the sentence grammatically.

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams |

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