On par with

“On par with” means “about equal to” or “about as good as.”

Today's story: Guyana's offshore oil
Explore more: Lesson #247
Keywords:

Be your best self in English

Move confidently through the English-speaking world

Listen

  • Learning speed
  • Full speed

Learn

TranscriptQuizYour turn
Simple TranscriptEspañol中文FrançaisPortuguês日本語ItalianoDeutschTürkçePolski

On par with

Today’s expression is “on par with.” What does “on par with” mean? It means, “about equal to” or “about as good as.”

Here’s how you heard it in today’s main lesson. We were talking about the discovery of oil in Guyana. I said that this discovery could put Guyana, which is now South America’s second-poorest country, on par with regional leaders like Chile and Uruguay. In this part of the lesson, we were talking about GDP per person, a common measure of how well-developed an economy is. Guyana’s GDP is about $5,000 US dollars per person. Some estimates said their GDP per person could triple. Triple would be $15,000 per person. Chile’s GDP per person is $15,000 and Uruguay’s is $17,000, plus or minus.

So you can see we’re not talking about precise numbers. When I say that Guyana’s GDP per person may be on par with Chile and Uruguay, I’m not saying down to the dollar. I’m just saying, it would be about at that same level. About equal to it.

I’ve mentioned before that we’re in primary election season in the US, and our individual states all have elections on different days. Some had their elections before coronavirus, some postponed their elections until June, and others held their elections right in the middle of the pandemic worries. My state, Illinois, was one of those states. There was a big worry that people wouldn’t come out to vote, out of fear of catching the coronavirus. And indeed that was true in the big city in my state, Chicago. But in the more rural areas, voter turnout was on par with expectations.

I don’t mean that voter turnout was exactly, precisely what was expected. But it was about what was expected. In other words, when counting the votes, the state didn’t see a large drop in voter turnout in these rural areas. Voter turnout was on par with expectations; it was about equal to what people thought it would be.

Many people are worried that the decline in global stock markets will continue. As bad as the decline has been, it’s still not on par with the declines, in percentage terms, that we saw during the 2008 financial crisis. In the US, stock values declined by 55% during that recession. The recent decline in stock values is not yet on par with the decline in the most recent recession.

These are three cases in which we’re comparing amounts—so in these cases, “on par with” means “about equal to.” There is another way of using “on par with” and that is to describe quality.

Let’s take an example from the supermarket. Here in the US, most supermarkets carry big national or international brands of popular foods—Campbell’s soup, Heinz ketchup, Oreo cookies, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Rold Gold pretzels, Coca-Cola soft drinks, things like that. They also have their own brands of many of these products and the store’s own versions will usually be a bit cheaper, maybe 20 percent cheaper.

Have you ever tried the store brand equivalent of an Oreo cookie? I’m sorry, but it’s not the real thing. In this case, the store brand is not on par with the classic Nabisco cookie. Oreos have been around since 1912, and for good reason: they taste great! And the store brands just can’t reproduce that taste. The store brands are not on par with the original.

But in other cases, they come pretty close. The difference between a store brand pretzel and Rold Gold pretzels is not that great. The store brands, in these cases, are on par with the well-known national brand. They are as good as the national brand.

Remember the episode we did about Porsche’s all-new electric sports car, the Taycan? They’re betting that most of their customers will find the electric Porsche to be on par with the traditional Boxter or 911. Some purists that like to shift their own gears and hear the roar of the engine won’t be impressed. They won’t ever think an electric vehicle is on par with Porsche’s traditional cars. But Porsche is betting those people are in the minority. They think many of their customers will think the new Taycan is on par with their other sports cars, if not even better.

JR’s song of the week

Today’s song of the week is “Instant Crush” by the French electronic music group Daft Punk and the American singer Julian Casablancas. The song debuted in 2013 and was a big hit in Europe. JR likes it because it’s relaxing—at least for electronic music. So if you’re looking for another song for your Spotify playlist, consider “Instant Crush” by Daft Punk and Julian Casablancas.


That’s all for today. Stay home, stay safe, check on your friends and family in this time of uncertainty and coronavirus. We’ll be here with you every Monday and Thursday for a new English lesson.

If you’ve got some extra time on your hands and would like to spend some more time with English, then you might enjoy Plain English Plus+ . As a member of Plain English Plus+, you’ll get access to the fast version of every episode, video lessons, flash cards, and the lesson transcripts with built-in translations into seven languages. Those are Portuguese, Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian, French, and Chinese.

Learn more expressions like this

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

Test your knowledge

Take a 4-question quiz to make sure you understand today’s Expression

Plus+ feature

Write a sentence with this Expression

Get personal, human feedback on the examples that you write. Build the confidence to use this Expression in the real world

Story: Guyana's offshore oil