Academic Word List- Comparing and Contrasting


Similarities and differences academic vocabulary practice.

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Lesson Plan Content:

Academic Word List comparing and contrasting

Worksheet 1 – Comparing and contrasting phrases presentation

Write words in the gaps to complete these phrases for comparing and contrasting. There are several possible answers for each.


They are ________________________________________________________ the same


They are _________________________________________________________ identical


They are __________________________________________________________ similar


They are _________________________________________________________ different


A is _____________________________________________________... er/ more…than B


A is ____________________________________________________________ as… as B


The __________________________________________ difference between A and B is…


A/ An _________________________________________ difference between A and B is…

Use words and phrases under the fold to help you with task above. Some can be used more than once. 

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… percent                                                                                … times

a great deal                                                                             a lot

a (tiny) bit                                                                                 absolutely

almost                                                                                      basically

biggest                                                                       completely

considerably                                                                           exactly

fairly                                                                                          (far) far

great                                                                                         half

more or less                                                                            most important

most obvious                                                                          most significant

much                                                                                        (not/ very) nearly

(not) quite                                                                                obvious

one and a half times                                                only/ sole

practically                                                                                quite a lot

slightly                                                                        substantially

surprisingly                                                                              three quarters

totally                                                                                        twice



Partial answers

Match each of these lists of words to one gapped sentence on the previous page.

  1. a tiny bit/ a bit/ slightly/ … percent/ quite a lot/ considerably/ substantially/ a great deal/ a lot/ much/ far/ … times/ far far
  2. almost/ absolutely
  3. almost/ more or less/ nearly/ very nearly/ basically/ exactly
  4. biggest/ most important/ most significant/ most obvious/ only/ sole
  5. great/ obvious
  6. not nearly/ half/ three quarters/ not quite/ nearly/ almost/ exactly/ one and a half times/ twice/ three times
  7. slightly/ quite/ fairly/ very/ completely/ totally
  8. very/ quite/ surprisingly

Compare with the answer key under the fold. Other answers may be possible, so please ask if you wrote something different. 

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Suggested answers

  • They are almost/ more or less/ practically/ (very) nearly/ basically/ exactly the same
  • They are ___________almost/ absolutely__________________________ identical
  • They are ___________________very/ quite/ surprisingly______________ similar
  • They are _____________slightly/ quite/ very/ completely/ totally__________ different
  • A is ______a tiny bit/ a bit/ slightly/ … percent/ quite a lot/ considerably/ substantially/ a great deal/ a lot/ much/ far/ … times/ far far_______ ….er/ more…/ less… than B
  • A is ______not nearly/ half/ three quarters/ not quite/ nearly/ almost/ exactly/ one and a half times/ twice/ three times______ as… as B.
  • The ______biggest/ most important/ most significant/ most obvious/ only/ sole_______ difference between A and B is…
  • A/ An _____________ great/ obvious____________ difference between A and B is…

Do any of those expressions have (basically) the same meaning?


Worksheet 2 – Comparing and contrasting places

Compare one of these things in your country/ city and other places, supporting your arguments. Your partner will agree or disagree, or if they don’t know the other place they will just ask for more support for your arguments.

  • Acceptance of differences in sexuality
  • Belief in personal transformation
  • Bullying subordinates
  • Carbon offsetting
  • Corporate restructuring
  • Electricity generation
  • Government use of statistics
  • Granting sabbaticals
  • Immigration
  • Importance of hierarchy
  • Infrastructure
  • Interest in sustainability
  • Job security
  • Maintaining traditions
  • Naming of successors
  • Number of guidelines from the government
  • Number of subsidiaries
  • Publication of theses
  • Research funding
  • Residential care
  • Restoration of historical buildings
  • Rigid management
  • School resources
  • Self-sufficiency of adult children
  • Stress
  • Strictness of school grading
  • Submissive females
  • Suspension from school
  • Taking dietary supplements
  • Tax revenues
  • Teaching of study techniques
  • Temporary jobs
  • The baby boomer generation
  • The impact of globalisation
  • The IT sector
  • Theoretical physics
  • Times when you need to use identification
  • Transmission of disease
  • Treatment of historic sites
  • Use of panel interviews
  • Volunteering
  • Welfare payments

All the words in italics above are from the AWL. Ask about any you don’t know.


Worksheet 3 – Comparing and contrasting Academic Word List vocabulary

How different are the following words from the Academic Word List and the words next to them and what are the differences (if any)?

A generation/ An era                                                A majority/ Most

A medium/ Media                                                                   A parallel/ A similarity

A perspective/ A viewpoint                                                    An illustration/ A figure

An image/ An icon                                                                  An institute/ An academy

An instructor/ A teacher                                           At short intervals/ For a short time

Banned/ Prohibited                                                                Conservative/ Reactionary

Exactly/ Precisely                                                                   For Instance/ For example

Habits/ Norms                                                           Identification/ ID

Ignorance/ Stupidity                                                               Immaturity/ Childishness

Index/ Contents page                                              Individualism/ Selfishness

Inhibit/ Restrict                                                          Initially/ At first

Innovator/ Inventor                                                                 Insightful/ Intuitive

Integrate/ Merge                                                                     Internalise/ Remember

Irrational/ Illogical                                                                   Isolation/ Loneliness

Labourer/ Worker                                                                   Legislation/ Law

Legislator/ Lawyer                                                                  Magazine/ Journal

Manipulate/ Control                                                               Manual/ Handbook

Mechanism/ Machine                                              Mediate/ Negotiate

Minimalize/ Reduce                                                               Ministry/ Government department

Minor/ Unimportant                                                                Misinterpretation/ Misunderstanding

Objectivity/ Logic                                                                    Odd/ Abnormal

Paragraph/ Section                                                                Predicted/ Inevitable

Preliminary/ Preparatory                                                       Principal/ Principle

Private investigator/ Private detective                  Professor/ Lecturer

Psychiatry/ Psychology                                           Purchase/ Buy

Qualitative/ Quantitative                                                        Ratio/ Percentage

Regime/ Government                                              Relocate/ Move

Spouse/ Partner                                                                     Stubborn/ Persistent

The same/ Identical                                                               Theory/ Paradigm

To itemise/ To list                                                                    Uninvolved/ Disinterested

Unjustified/ Unjust

Write comparisons of four of the pairs of words above, then get together with another group to give feedback on the accuracy of the descriptions, the language used, etc.



Choose one of the tasks below and write at least 250 words on the topic of your choice.

  • Compare the past, present and future of one thing
  • Compare two things
  • Compare two solutions to one problem
  • Compare competing theories (e.g. for why something happens)
  • Compare different predictions for the future of something
  • Compare different future possibilities depending on what action is taken

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