Exercises in Science
..............Jack Kimball.............

Comparing Similarities


to compare / comparing : to describe/describing something as similar to something else

comparable : similar

concept : idea

to resemble/to parallel : to be similar; parallel : similar, comparable

in terms of : in relation to, in connection with

essential : basic, necessary

vitamin : food substance essential for life, found in plants and animals

diet : everyday food and drink

organ : a major part of the body, such as the heart, skin or liver

internal functions : activities or processes inside the body

to synthesize : to combine separate elements into a new form


When comparing two or more concepts, scientists specify what is similar between them. Comparing concepts, devices or natural things helps organize your knowledge and solve problems. For example, if you are trying to decide how to plant vegetables for a garden, among other things, you would want to know how fast various vegetables grow. Consider the following.

Spinach grows 50 millimeters per week.

Asparagus grows 24 millimeters.

Daikon grows 20 millimeters.

Carrots grow 48 millimeters.

From this information we can say that asparagus and daikon have similar growth rates. The growth rates of carrots and spinach are comparable as well. Here are some sentence patterns for comparing similarities.

Sentence Patterns and Vocabulary


(Both) X and Y have similarities.


X and Y have{the same / comparable / parallel}growth rates.


In many ways X and Y are{the same / similar / comparable / parallel.


X{resembles / parallels}Y in terms of growth rate.


X and Y are{the same / similar / comparable / parallel}in many ways.


In many ways X is {the same as / similar to / comparable to / like }Y.

Other Words Used for Comparing

as well
in common

Exercise 1
Read the following paragraphs and underline words and phrases used to compare similarities.

Vitamins B and D are alike in a number of characteristics. Both come from the same food sources, milk and eggs. In terms of natural body functions, Vitamins B and D are alike because both are essential for good health. On the other hand, if you maintain a
balanced diet, you do not need to take extra amounts of either vitamin. Eating three good meals a day usually healthy amount of good food provides enough of both vitamins.


Even though we might not think of fish and humans as parallel, in some ways they are the same. For a biologist the fugu or Japanese puffer-fish resembles a human being in terms of genetic structure. Each has a backbone, brain and liver. They also have an immune system in common. In terms of genes, fugu and organs and humans have comparable characteristics.

Exercise 2

Read the following and fill the blanks with a word or phrase that specifies comparing similarities.

(1) _______ daikon and asparagus have _____________ growth rates.

(2) A computer ______________a calculator since ____________has been designed to manipulate numbers.

(3) Aluminum is ______________iron in that it is a soft metal.

(4) The health value of Vitamin D _______________that of Vitamin B.

(5) Light passenger aircraft and helicopters ___________________ in terms of the number of passengers they carry at one time.

Exercise 3
For a, b, c, and d (below), write one or two sentences, connecting the ideas. Be sure to use words and phrases that compare similarities.

(a) Wolves and dogs are canines. Wolves and dogs have four legs, a tail and very sharp teeth.

(b) VTRs, TVs and tape recorders are home appliances. They contain microprocessors.

(c) The burning of coal and the burning of oil contribute to air pollution. The burning of coal and the burning of oil contribute to acid rain.

(d) Energy from the sun and from the wind is natural. Energy from the sun and from the wind is clean. Energy from the sun and from the wind is free.


Writing Exercise

Referring to the information below, write a paragraph that compares some of the similarities among Vitamins A, B 2 and B 6. Consider how these vitamins are parallel in terms of food sources and health functions. Be sure to use words and phrases for comparing similarities.


SOURCES: vegetables, eggs, milk, fish, liver oil

HEALTH FUNCTIONS: essential for bone formation; essential for skin tissue


SOURCES: vegetables, eggs, milk, liver

HEALTH FUNCTIONS: essential for internal functions (synthesizes enzymes)


SOURCES: whole grains, eggs, milk, meat, liver

HEALTH FUNCTIONS: essential for internal functions (synthesizes enzymes)