When two things are similar, that means they are alike, but not completely identical. But for those of you who are new to the English language, you might not be aware of how to talk about similar things.
Similar With, Similar To, Similar As, or Similar Like?
“Similar to” is the only correct one of the four. This is because “to” is a dependent preposition.
However, we can change words around for the others….
“The book is similar to the film”
“With similar characters to the book, the film was a success”
“The book and film are as similar as McDonalds and Burger King”
“Like Burger King and McDonalds, the book and the film are similar”.
“Similar to” is a dependent preposition
If you’re anything like me just a couple of years ago, you may have just read that and now you’re wondering what on Earth a “dependent preposition” is.
Well, let’s start by establishing what a preposition is. A preposition is a word used to describe something’s location- this does not have to mean physical location, we can also be talking about the medium, place in time, etc.
A dependent preposition depends on another word. It needs to come after another word to make sense.
Unlike “with” for example, you couldn’t put “to” in front of similar, it has to go after.
“Similar to” examples
“I’ve just got a new car. It’s similar to my old one, but this one is a lot faster”
“That new burger joint is similar to the one I used to go to as a kid”
“My plant is similar to the kind of thing I would find in the forest when I used to live in Japan”
“The water here tastes similar to that stuff coca cola used to make. Too bad it’s not drinkable”
“My mother is similar to the queen. Very elegant and in control”
“My morning routine is similar to that of Jeff Bezos. We wake up late and have a good breakfast”
“English Breakfast is similar to American lunch”
“Pigs are similar to men. They’re both annoying but kinda fun”
“The new book is similar to his old one. I don’t think I’ll be reading it”
“I have a cup that’s similar to the ones my mistress used to drink from”
Another word that can go with similar is “of”. However, you don’t say “similar of” but “of similar”. For example, if two things share the same trait, you might say “they are OF similar x”.
“These cups are of similar colour”.
However, this phrasing is less common and some even see it as archaic. But I don’t see it that way, I think it serves a very clear purpose.
Unlike “similar to”, “of similar” requires there to be a specific attribute that the two things have in common.
As similar as
“Similar as” can be a grammatically correct phrase so long as the “similar” also had an “as” before it. “As similar as”.
This is not a synonym to “similar to”, but rather a way of comparing the similarity of two sets of things.
For example, “These two burgers are as similar as chalk and cheese”.
In this example, we are comparing the similarity of two burgers to the similarity of chalk and cheese. Suggesting that the burgers are vastly different from one another.
“As similar as” is used to compare the similarity of two sets. Not to compare one thing to another.
Another phrase is “similarly to”. However, this is generally used to describe situations or actions, unlike “similar to” which is used to describe nouns.
“Similar” is an adjective. But “similarly” is an adverb, it’s used to talk about verbs, not nouns.
For example, I might say that “He ran similarly to someone who was running for the bus”. As you can see, I’m talking about the action of running which is not a physical object.
However, most of the time “similarly to” can be replaced by “like”. This is why very few authors will regularly use it.
Similar of: Wrong but forgivable to non-native English speakers
Many European folks will use the phrase “similar of”. This is incorrect but understandable.
In many European languages, they would use “‘similar’ de”. And “de” can often be translated to mean “of”.
This just goes to show that translating a language word for word might not always be the best approach.
And now you know how you can use the words “with, to, as and like” with the word “similar”. Hopefully next time you need to compare similar things, you will have a better idea of which words to use.
You may also like:Similar To or Similarly To – Which Is Correct? (+Examples)
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.