Apples-to-apples comparison is a way to make sure that you are comparing things that are similar. If you are comparing a 2 year old to a 10 year old, then that is not apples-to-apples.
There is a common English idiom, “You are comparing apples and oranges,” which is an accusation leveled against someone who unfairly tries to compare dissimilar things or makes a false analogy. Drawing on the sense of this idiom, an “apples-to-apples” comparison is one which fairly compares comparable, similar things. Oddly, nobody ever makes an “oranges to oranges” comparison, but this is a testament to the fickle nature of language.
For example, when you are looking at data, it is important to ensure that you are comparing apples-to-apples. This will help you make better decisions. If you are comparing hotel rooms, it is important to compare like hotels with similar amenities and services. Otherwise, you may end up with a bad decision.
Mastering Apples-to-Apples Comparisons: A Guide to Making Informed Decisions
Another example of apples-to-apples comparison is energy pricing. The PUCO maintains an online Apples to Apples Ohio website where commercial customers can compare the prices offered by regulated energy suppliers. This allows businesses to see the real-time rates that their competitors are offering for electricity and natural gas, which helps them to avoid being caught by surprise rates that are not apples-to-apples.
While “apples-to-apples” is a great phrase to know, it can be difficult to use correctly. For this reason, we recommend using other alternatives when writing formal documents or sending a professional email. Thankfully, there are many great synonyms for this phrase, including “direct comparison” and “like-for-like comparison.”