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Classification Analogies: Definition & Types

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
One of the most common types of analogies are classification analogies, which compares terms according to categories. In this lesson, we'll look at how to identify and solve them.

What is a Classification Analogy?

To help someone understand the definition of a thing, you can of course simply cite the definition. But sometimes people understand comparisons much better. Analogies are a useful method for understanding a relationship between different terms.

Classification analogies are a type of analogy that compare terms according to what group they belong. This way, people can demonstrate the relationship between two different pairs of words by emphasizing the classification of one of the terms as a group of another. Classification analogies can also be hierarchical in nature, by which different levels of a hierarchy are compared, as well as focusing on relationships of inclusion.

For example: an eagle is a type of bird, just as a tuna is a type of fish - Eagle:Bird::Tuna:Fish. Often, you will be asked to solve a classification analogy in which one of the terms is missing. However, as this lesson will demonstrate, solving a classification analogy is not so difficult if you approach it in a logical manner. We will go over those steps in the following paragraphs. Then, we'll look at examples of classification analogies in which either the member or the group are missing.

Problem Solving

Like any other analogy, following a logical process is the key to being able to solve a classification analogy. First things first, look at the completed side of the analogy. Attempt to understand the relationship between those terms. As is true with all analogies, if you can describe that relationship in a sentence, you will be in a much better position to solve the entire analogy. The more detail you can put into describing the relationship, the better, but know that the other side of the analogy may not be exactly the same type of relationship.

From there, determine what part of the missing analogy is not present. There will be something missing, either a category (group), or member. It should coordinate with the completed part of the analogy, in other words, if you think of each part as numbered - 1:2::3:4, the 1 and 3 parts will be the same (either a member or a group) and the 2 and 4 parts with be the same. Put another way, _:Bird::Tuna:Fish, the blank and Tuna are member parts, while Bird and Fish are group parts.

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