How To Do Analogy

In this article, you will learn how to keep the process as simple as possible, to achieve higher marks in your analogy test, using your common sense, paying attention to what is told and using a swift elimination method. However, before that let us understand what analogy is.

Analogy is best described as a bridge between two words; making a clear relationship between two words. For example, banana: fruit; cabbage: vegetable. In this set of words it is clear that banana is a fruit and cabbage is a vegetable; but all fruits are not bananas and neither all vegetables are cabbage. Yet the relationship between the two sets is clear: banana is to fruit what cabbage is to vegetable. So analogy looks for similar features in two things/sets so as to make a proper comparison. Another example could be – hand is to palm as foot is to sole.

In the next step of how to do analogy, it becomes easier when you are able to figure out how things are related or go together. For example a dog is to a puppy as a goat is to a kid. Both the instances go together because the second word is the young one of the first word, and that is how the sets or words are related. The test papers will of course pose a puzzle for you to solve in the analogy section; and it is here you must use your skills. How?

The test paper may have the following puzzle to solve with given multiple choices –

  1. store: magazine
  2. rocket: space
  3. paper: writing
  4. chalk: sidewalk
  5. plant: green

The first step is to identify the relationship between the two words in capital letters. A sentence would say it thus: A ship sails or travels in the ocean. Now that you have the relationship, find a similarity in the given examples that best match the features. Here elimination method will help you to do the analogy quickly. So eliminate the most unlikely examples like – a) store does not travel in a magazine; c) paper does not travel in writing; d) chalk does not travel in sidewalk; and e) plant does not travel green. The only alternative left is a) rocket travels in space, which has similar features and is comparable with the question pair ship: ocean; and so is the correct answer.

The test questions may be trickier where you may have to look for the relationship and similar features which can be compared; but also look at the part of speech angle or the grammar angle. For example-

  1. athletic: swim
  2. happy: wedding
  3. hungry: eat
  4. cold: blanket

The obvious relationship is that when you are tired you will fall asleep; but also determine the parts of speech they are arranged in. The first word ‘tired’ is an adjective and the next ‘sleep’ is a verb. Now find a pair in the given examples that not only match the features but also have the same arrangement. Now use the elimination method and delete b) and d) because these have different arrangements – adjective: noun. Now the pair in a) and c) sound similar but do they have the exact similar features that can be compared correctly? The pair athletic and swim sound similar, yet all athletes are not swimmers and all swimmers need not be athletic; therefore a) can be easily deleted. Next in c) hungry and eat go together and are well related; and they are also arranged in the desired part of speech, as well; hungry is an adjective and eat is a verb. So you have found your correct answer.

How does a simile differ from an analogy?

A simile is always a comparison and is prominent because it must have one of the two words – ‘like’ or ‘as.’ As an example: I am as hungry as an elephant; or, He roared like a lion.
An analogy draws inferences from the similar features of the first set of words and forms a new comparable set with the same relationship of the first set. Analogy is fun and gets better if you have a good grip on English vocabulary, the more words you know the easier it becomes.