Some authors claim that “compare to” and “compare with” mean essentially the same, but this is not supported by actual data. The verb compare has several different meanings, some of which take the preposition “to”, while the others take “with”:
means that football experts claim there are many similarities between the footballer in question and Pelé (with the implied meaning that he is as good as Pelé). The similarities shared don’t always have to be positive:
Here the implied meaning is not only that Stalinism is similar to Fascism, but also that Stalinism is as bad as Fascism.
In the sense described above, only compare to is used. Compare with expresses a different concept:
When “compare” is used in this sense, it is possible to say “and” instead of “with”, as in
This is not possible with “compare to”; “experts compare him and the legendary Pelé” simply doesn’t work.
However, when passively contrasting two things or figures, both compared to and compared with are common. For example:
Technically speaking, only “compared with” makes sense (since you are comparing something with something else, not to something else), but the fact is, “compared to” is several times more common than “compared with” in English literature.