Modifiers

Adjectives: Similar, but different

If one thing is similar to another, it is of a like quality, but not identical to, the other.

Rule: Place similar, which is an adjective, as close as possible to the word(s) it is modifying.

Example: On 23 January 2007, The Globe and Mail reported that Sun Microsystems agreed to purchase microprocessors from Intel, noting that “a year ago, Apple began selling computers with Intel chips, embracing similar technology that powers the machines from its major competitors.”

What’s wrong: The point to be made is not that Apple embraced similar technology (microprocessors from Intel) but that Apple embraced technology similar to that of its major competitors.

Correct usage: “… Apple began selling computers with Intel chips, embracing technology similar to that which powers the machines from its major competitors.”

Improved usage: “… Apple began selling computers with Intel chips, embracing technology similar to that which powers the machines of its major competitors.”

For another example of the correct use of similar, please see Adjectives.

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