Incomplete comparison

An incomplete comparison is an error in the use of English grammar. We will define the term incomplete comparison, examine how to identify an incomplete comparison, and look at some examples of how to fix an incomplete comparison.

A comparison is a measure of the similarities and differences between one or more items. An incomplete comparison only addresses one noun, and therefore, can not be a comparison.

Incomplete comparison:

My iguana is bigger. (Bigger than what? The iguana is not compared to anything.)

Comparison:

My iguana is bigger than my neighbor’s dog. (The iguana’s size is compared to the dog’s size.)

Incomplete comparisons are common in the field of advertising.

Incomplete comparison:

Brand X deodorant is fresher. (Fresher than what? The deodorant is not compared to anything.)

Comparison:

Brand X deodorant is fresher than a gardenia. (While this sentence is a matter of opinion and not of fact, the sentence is grammatically correct because it compares the scent of the deodorant with the scent of the gardenia.)

Often, English speakers run into trouble when they imply what two nouns are being compared.

Incomplete comparison:

My daughter is smarter. (Smarter than who? The daughter is not compared to anyone, though we assume that she is being compared to a set of her peers.)

Comparison:

My daughter is smarter than all of her classmates. (The daughter is being compared to all the other children in her class.)

Remember, a comparison involves two or more items; an incomplete comparison is a grammatical error in which the speaker does not identify all the nouns that are being compared.