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Intro to Comparisons


Introduction to Comparisons. A comparison is any sentence which talks about how two elements are the same or different. So for example, Amanda is as tall and Bernie. Compared to Pete, Amanda is taller. Amanda is not as tall as Ruth.

Those are standard comparisons. Like Ben, Amanda is the tallest in her class. That's interesting cuz that's actually a double comparison there, two different comparisons going on in that sentence. In this final one, Unlike Susan, Amanda is tall for her age, but Susan is still taller than Amanda.

That's a very, very complex sentence there, several comparisons going on in that sentence. Comparatives or superlatives, which we talked about in the previous video, indicate a comparison. Other keywords for comparison include than, more, less, like or unlike, similar to, different from, compared to, in contrast to, or in contrast with, and as something as, as tall as, as smart as, that sort of thing.

It's good to know these keywords, it will help you to recognize that comparisons are happening. Comparisons on the GMAT must be logical and unambiguous. What does this mean? First of all, comparisons must be logical. That is, they must compare like to like.

So, consider this problem sentence. Like the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms wrote four symphonies that were masterpieces. Well, if we remove the fluff, we see what's going on here. We're comparing music, like the symphonies, we're comparing that to a person.

The person is like the music? That doesn't make sense. We can compare music to music, we could compare person to person, but here, we're not comparing like to like, so this is a mistake pattern. We could fix this either by comparing person to person, like Beethoven, Brahms. Okay, there, we're actually comparing person to person, like to like, that's logical.

We could also compare music to music, Like the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms' four symphonies are masterpieces. There, we're comparing music to music. Either one of those would be a correct solution, but the one at the top is typical of the mistake pattern. The GMAT loves this mistake pattern, comparing one thing about one person, their work, their reputation, their book, something like that, to another whole person.

Another example of this mistake, Like the victories that Julius Caesar won in Gall in the first century BCE, Napoleon won, dot, dot, dot. Well, we get logically, what we're trying to do here is compare Julius Caesar to Napoleon. They were two generals, the, these are two historical figures who would be like one another.

The problem is, the way it's phrased, the grammar is comparing the victories of one person to the, to the other whole person. So this, it, again is a mistake pattern. It is not a comparison of like to like, so this would be wrong on the GMAT. And this is a frequent pattern on the GMAT sentence correction. Quite frequently in the comparisons that appear in the GMAT, there are at least some logical mistakes, such as this.

Sometimes, comparisons can also involve ambiguity. For example, in this sentence, this is a problematic sentence. I like New York style pizza more than Chris. Well, it sounds like something people would say colloquially, and you might be able to guess the meaning of it, or guess what's going on here. But the problem is, before we have the comparative word more than, we have two nouns, though we have a noun and a pronoun.

So we have the pronoun, I, we also have the noun, pizza. And technically, it's not clear to which one of those we're making the comparison. Now, the more common sense interpretation of this sentence is that I would be comparing subject to subject. So, the common sense interpretation would be, I like New York style pizza more than Chris does.

So in other words, I and Chris are the two subjects, and we're comparing how much each one of us likes New York style pizza. That would be one possible interpretation. But another completely valid interpretation of the red sentence on the top, is that I'm comparing object to object. In other words, that sentence would mean, I like New York style pizza more than I like Chris, so that would be a completely different meaning.

And both of these meanings are perfectly valid for that sentence at the top. That's the problem, the sentence at the top is ambiguous. And ambiguity is wrong 100% of the time on the GMAT. This problem does not arise if there's no direct object after the verb. So for example, Chris runs faster than Margarette. That's perfectly clear, there's only one possible comparison in this sentence.

We're comparing Chris to Margarette, nothing else is going on. So that, 100% fine. What if, what if the word after than is a pronoun? Okay. What's going on if we have a comparison to a pronoun? So for example, in this sentence, Margarette was a top athlete in high school, but now Chris runs faster than, and should it be she or her?

Now this is very tricky, because in colloquial spoken English, 99% of the time, people would say than her. That's very common in spoken English, but technically what we're doing is, we're not using, we're not saying that Margarette is a subject of any verb, she's an object. Chris runs and Margarette runs, they're both subjects of verbs. For subjects, we need the subjective form of the pronoun, she.

We don't need the objective form, her. In practice, saying runs faster than she, would sound a bit awkward in spoken language. So, probably what most people would say, runs faster than she does. So that would be 100% grammatically correct and would also sound natural. Personal pronouns must match the compared term in case, subjective, objective, or possessive.

Very important, are we comparing subjective he/she, are we comparing objective him/her, that sort of thing. And if you're unclear on the cases of personal pronounce, I would sug, suggest go back and watch the video that focuses on pronouns. In summary, very important to know the keywords for comparisons, including comparatives and superlatives.

These are the things that alert us, okay, there's a comparison happening. Beware of illogical comparisons, comparing somebody's work with their book, with their reputation, or something like that, to the other whole person. A very common mistake pattern on the GMAT. Beware of ambiguous comparisons. And this is when we have the ambiguity, are we making the comparison to the subject or the object.

So sometimes if things are too brief, it leaves up in this ambiguity. And finally, be very attentive to personal pronouns in comparisons, make sure we're using the right case.

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