Compared ‘to’ or compared ‘with’?

May 12, 2016

|Dr. Jennifer C van Velkinburgh, Filipodia Publishing


Almost all scientific studies include some form of comparative analysis in the study design. Comparisons are made between untreated (control) cells and treated (experimental) cells in the laboratory setting, and between healthy (control) individuals and patients (individuals afflicted with a particular disease or condition) in the clinical setting. Yet, the terminology used to describe the data and findings from comparative analyses is a common source of confusion among authors.


Here is the quick and easy rule to follow the next time you are writing up your data or findings from a comparative analysis:


Compared ‘to’ is used when the result you are describing is the same. For example, “Compared to the untreated control cells, the dexamethasone-treated dendritic cells showed no difference in cell viability.”


Compared ‘with’ is used when the result you are describing is different. For example, “The patients with achalasia who were administered nifedipine showed increased relaxation of the LES, as compared with the patients who received nitrate-based drug therapy and showed no change in relaxation capacity of the LES.”