BBC: If someone in the Army drinks so much alcohol that they are incoherent, which I'm sure happens, what happens to them?
Government guy: Well, first of all, of course, alcohol is a legal drug, therefore you are comparing apples with pears.
Describes an unfair comparison because what are being considered are too fundamentally different for the comparison to make sense. Thus, comparing apples and pears is a foolish thing — they taste different and which one tastes nicer is a matter of personal opinion, not objective fact.
I had never heard "apple and pears"--thanks for the update!
I would never use "apples and pears," because apples and pears are actually quite a bit alike.
They have cores w/ multiple seeds. Their peels are a similar thickness. Their flesh has a similar consistency. Even the tastes are more alike than they are different.
In fact, there is a pear that tastes a LOT like an apple.
Compared with either apples or pears, oranges have vastly different structures to their seeds, their peels are different, and their flesh is hugely different, both in consistency and taste.
I think apples, oranges and pears are all too similar. We need a new expression, 'apples and condolences' perhaps...
Presumably you guys could work that into the house styleguide and act like all the writers who use "apples and oranges" should know they're wrong.
I'm toying with the idea of using a random noun in the "oranges" slot in my own writing, but I doubt that I use this expression more often than once every few years.
But, of course, "apples and pears" rolls naturally off the English tongue; it's cockney rhyming slang for "stairs".