6 great Linkers for Making Comparisons

making comparisons

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Welcome to today’s Lunchtime Lesson. Today I have a very interesting lesson for you. We’re going to be looking at how we make comparisons and which vocabulary is useful for it. This is some really useful language which can be used in a lot of ways. It’s language that you’ll use in your everyday English as well as any English exam. You can apply it to your speaking and your writing, especially if you’re doing exams. This is the kind of language the examiners will be looking for. And if you are working in English, this language is great because making comparisons is something we do all the time. Today we’re looking at a selection of linkers we use a lot to make comparisons. 

Useful Linkers to make comparisons

We’ll do another session on this with other linkers in future lessons, but today we are going to focus on 8. This means, we can really look at the differences of those linkers and then break it down for you, epxlaining the register and giving you lots of examples. And I also have some special practice for you today. If you are like me a Star Wars fan, you’ll know that today, May the 4th, is Star Wars day. So, May the Fourth be with you! I have some Star Wars related exercises for you at the end of the lesson. But first, let’s look at some of the linkers we can use to make comparisons.

In contrast

  • The stock lost 60 cents a share, in contrast to last year, when it gained 21 cents.
  • You often see it with the prepositions to and with: in contrast to/with
  • More formal in register​
  • Use for your writing and in presentations​


  • The old system was fairly complicated whereas the new system is really very simple.
  • formal ​register
  • used to say that although something is true of one thing, it is not true of another​
  • More commonly used in written English​
  • Often interchangeable with while


  • Schools in the north tend to be better equipped, while those in the south are relatively poor.
  • While can have a lot of meanings, especially related to time​
  • But today we are thinking of it being used to emphasize the difference between two situations, activities etc​

Whereas vs While

  • Whereas can be used in the example sentence from before: Schools in the north tend to be better equipped, whereas those in the south are relatively poor.
  • But this will affect your register a bit​ – whereas makes it a bit more formal than while
  • While is a higher frequency word in both spoken and written English.
  • Great to have both when you are producing longer chunks of language as you can avoid repetition.

On the one hand/on the other hand

  • These expressions are often used by L2 speakers of English together​
  • On the one hand, you want to help your kids as much as you can, but on the other hand, you’ve got to be careful to help them learn on their own.
  • In fact, L1 speakers normally use on the other hand by itself. ​You can find some examples here.
  • You don’t need to use “on the one hand” if you use “on the other hand”
  • But if you start with “on the one hand” you do need to continue with “on the other hand”
  • Also, remember that these aren’t to express opposites, they are used to give another opinion or fact that should be considered as well as the one you have just given​.
    So, I can’t say: “Edinburgh is a small city, on the other hand Glasgow is bigger”​
    I’d need to say: “Edinburgh is a small city, while Glasgow is bigger”
  • The register is neutral and appropriate for both spoken and written English​ but not in formal writing


  • An extremely unpleasant disease that is, however, easy to treat.
  • used when you are adding a fact or piece of information that seems surprising, or seems very different from what you have just said​
  • Really common in both spoken and written English​, but has a higher frequency in written English
  • Register is neutral​
  • Often confused with although


  • Has 2 uses​
  • We decided to take rooms in Longwood House, although we knew we could not really afford the rent. Here although is used to introduce a statement that makes your main statement seem surprising or unlikely​
  • You can copy down my answers, although I’m not sure they’re right. Here although is used to add a statement that balances or reduces the effect of what you have just said​
  • Neutral register​
  • Top frequency word for both written and spoken English​

However vs Although

  • They have similar meanings, but we use them differently
  • However and although can both be placed in the middle of a sentence
    I like travelling, however it’s not possible at the moment.
    I like travelling, 
    although it’s not possible at the moment
  • Only although can stay at the beginning of a sentence
    Although I like travelling, it’s not possible at the moment.
    Although can Introduce information
    However I like travelling, it’s not possible at the moment.
    However can’t stand at the beginning of a sentence. It will always contrast previous information.

Making Comparisons with Star Wars

So, we’ve had a look at quite a lot of vocabulary there. And as I already mentioned we’ll be doing some Star Wars related practice today. I have 5 sentences for you. I’d like you to read the sentences and try to think of which of the words we just learned fits in the gaps. Just a quick reminder, the expressions we looked at were: in contrast, while, whereas, on the one hand, on the other hand, however. Some gaps can have more than one possibility. Once you’ve done the exercise, you can check the solutions below the picture.

Making Comparisons with Star Wars examples
Solution: In contrast, on the other hand, Although, however/while/whereas, While/Whereas

If it was a bit tricky, I recommend trying it again in a couple of days. Do the exercise again and see if you are able to improve. With time you’ll realise that you’re getting better in making comparisons.

I have one more task for you. Here are two images, which are taken from an FCE part 2 speaking exercise. And the question is: What might the people enjoy about being active in these situations?

FCE part 2 speaking exercise to practice making comparisons

What I would like you to do, is to contrast these images. I’d like you to do it both in speaking and in writing. If you’re doing the speaking, try speaking for a minute and record yourself. If you’re doing the writing, try to aim for a paragraph. While you’re doing it, remember ABC – Always Be Comparing. So, the challenge is to use as many of the words we have looked at today and see if you can apply them correctly. If you like, you can share your paragraph with us in the comments.

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