All About Analogies

Many important tests include analogies. Why? Analogies force you to see relationships that are not expressed openly, but are still visible to a sharp mind. An analogy is a relationship between two pairs of things. For example, a giant is tall as a mountain is high. In each case, each adjective describes the height of its noun. We could express the analogy this way, as a multiple choice guessing game:


a. tire: car
b. window : house
c. high: mountain
d. red : sunset

The analogy would be read: "Tall is to giant as high is to mountain."

Notice that only one of the four answers is best:  high : mountain.

Red is not the height of the sunset; it is the color of it.

Tire is not the height of a car; it is apart of it.

  • Sometimes a relationship is like tall and giant; one word is a characteristic of the other.
  • Sometimes the relationship is of opposites: up is to down as full is to empty.
  • Sometimes the relationship is of part and whole: dial is to radio as handle is to drawer.
  • Sometimes the relationship is of synonyms: dark is to obscure as bright is to luminous.

There can be many different kinds of relationships, but we are looking for a second pair that have the same relationship to each other as the first pair has.

Sometimes it helps to put the relationship into a sentence, so that you can get the meaning. For example, for the terms student and class, you could say "The student is a member of the class." That way, if saw the terms musician and band, you could say "The musician is a member of the band" and you would be able to see the same relationship.

The relationship in the second pair must be in the same direction, order, or sequence as the relationship in the first pair.

A dictionary can be very helpful in analogies, especially if you see words that you don't know!

Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012, 12:21 PM