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"On the Other Hand" - Expressions for Making Comparisons

"On the Other Hand" - Expressions for Making Comparisons

Words like "but" and "however" are useful for comparing things. But always using the same one or two words can get boring quickly, so it's useful to know more expressions with the same meaning.

This time, we'll introduce several alternatives you can use when making comparisons or highlighting differences between things. Learn them all to keep your conversations sounding more interesting and dynamic.

Single-use expressions

There are actually two different types of expressions we'll look at in this article. The first type is only used for making comparisons and showing contrast.


A man looking at a carton of milk while standing in a supermarket.

Most English learners will probably know at least one of these words. Both are used when you want to say that something is different from what was said earlier.

I planned to buy juice, but I bought milk instead.

Of these two words, "but" sounds less formal. Also, "however" often indicates a stronger contrast or difference between the things that are being compared.

You can learn a lot of things on the internet, but it also contains a lot of fake information.
You can learn a lot of things on the internet. However, it also contains a lot of fake information.

On the other hand

This expression is a strong way to show a clear difference between two things.

This apartment is clean, quiet and affordable. On the other hand, it's not in a very convenient location.
Going to Europe would be a fun way to spend our vacation. On the other hand, we'd have more time to relax if we went somewhere closer.

In contrast (to/with)

This expression sounds a bit formal, but you may still hear it used in daily conversations. Again, it shows a clear difference between two things.

In contrast to yesterday's cloudy weather, today is bright and sunny.
John is tall and slim, in contrast with this brother, who is short and muscular.


A photo of a woman hiking on a mountain next to a photo of a man's hands holding an open book.

"Whereas" is used similarly to "but," though it isn't quite as informal.

My mother is an outdoor person, whereas my father likes to stay indoors.
She thinks money matters, whereas he thinks time is more important.

By contrast

This is used in a similar way as "on the other hand."

The city is noisy and crowded. By contrast, the countryside is peaceful and quiet.

Double-use expressions

The second type we'll look at are expressions that can be used for making comparisons as well as for talking about two actions or situations that happen at the same time.


A smiling woman holding a suitcase and a passport against a magenta background

"While" can mean "during the time something else takes place."

She will stay at her friend's house while she's in Spain.

It can also be used to show a clear difference between two things.

My mother is an outdoor person, while my father likes to stay indoors.


In the first example below, "meanwhile" is used to indicate things happening together in time.

If you don't mind, please make dessert. Meanwhile, I'll prepare lunch.

Its other usage is to show a strong contrast between two things.

In some countries, you are expected to leave a tip for workers. Meanwhile, in Japan, tipping is not common.

(But) at the same time

This phrase is unique because it can connect two situations happening at the same while also showing a contrast.

He is a teacher. But at the same time, he's a student.
This coffee tastes bitter, but at the same time, it has a little bit of sweetness.


It's always good to know different ways of saying the same thing — both for you to communicate effectively and to understand more of what others say to you.

There will likely be times in many conversations when two things are compared, so make sure you are prepared by learning these useful expressions. They will definitely come in handy when you need them!

This article was adapted from an original written by Tamaki Saito.