The purpose of a compare and contrast essay is to analyze the differences and/or the similarities of two distinct subjects. A good compare/contrast essay doesn’t only point out how the subjects are similar or different (or even both!). It uses those points to make a meaningful argument about the subjects. While it can be a little intimidating to treatment this type of essay at very first, with a little work and practice, you can write a excellent compare-and-contrast essay!

Steps Edit

Part One of Four:
Formulating Your Argument Edit

Pick two subjects that can be compared and contrasted. The very first step to writing a successful compare and contrast essay is to pick two subjects that are different enough to be compared. There are several things to consider when choosing your subjects: [1]

  • You could pick two subjects that are in the same “category” but have differences that are significant in some way. For example, you could choose “homemade pizza vs. frozen grocery store pizza.”
  • You could pick two subjects that don’t show up to have anything in common but that have a surprising similarity. For example, you could choose to compare bats and whales. (One is lil’ and flies, and the other is giant and swims, but they both use sonar to hunt.)
  • You could pick two subjects that might show up to be the same but are actually different. For example, you could choose “The Thirst Games movie vs. the book.”

Make sure that your subjects can be discussed in a meaningful way. “Meaningful” comparisons and contrasts do more than simply point out that “Topic A and Topic B are both similar and different.” A good compare and contrast essay will help your readers understand why it’s useful or interesting to put these two subjects together. [Two]

  • For example, ask yourself: What can we learn by thinking about “The Thirst Games” and “Battle Royale” together that we would miss out on if we thought about them separately?
  • It can be helpful to consider the “So what?” question when determining whether your subjects have meaningful comparisons and contrasts to be made. If you say “The Thirst Games and Battle Royale are both similar and different,” and your friend asked you “So what?” what would your response be? In other words, why bother putting these two things together?
  • Brainstorm your topic. You most likely won’t be able to leap straight from determining on your topic to having a thesis, and that’s okay. Take a little time to brainstorm about how your chosen subjects are similar and different. This will help you see which points are the major ones you want to concentrate on, and can help guide you when you formulate your thesis.

  • A “Venn diagram” can often be helpful when brainstorming. This set of overlapping circles can help you visualize where your subjects are similar and where they differ. In the outer edges of the circle, you write what is different; in the overlapping middle area, you write what’s similar. [Three]
  • You can also just draw out a list of all of the qualities or characteristics of each subject. Once you’ve done that, embark looking through the list for traits that both subjects share. Major points of difference are also good to note.
  • Consider your main points. You won’t be able to provide a list of every single way in which your subjects are similar and/or different in your essay. (And that’s not the purpose, anyway.) Instead, choose a few points that seem to be particularly significant.

  • For example, if you are comparing and contrasting cats and dogs, you might notice that both are common household pets, fairly effortless to adopt, and don’t usually have many special care needs. These are points of comparison (ways they are similar).
  • You might also note that cats are usually more independent than dogs, that dogs may not provoke allergies as much as cats do, and that cats don’t get as big as many dogs do. These are points of contrast (ways they are different).
  • These points of contrast can often be good places to begin thinking about your thesis, or argument. Do these differences make one animal a superior type of pet? Or a better pet choice for a specific living situation (e.g. an apartment, a farm, etc.)?
  • Develop your thesis. There are many directions a compare-and-contrast thesis can take, but it should always make an argument that explains why it’s useful to put these two subjects together in the very first place. For example:

  • Showcase readers why one subject is more desirable than the other. Example: “Cats are better pets than dogs because they require less maintenance, are more independent, and are more adaptable.”
  • Help readers make a meaningful comparison inbetween two subjects. Example: “Fresh York City and San Francisco are both good cities for youthful professionals, but they differ in terms of their job opportunities, social environment, and living conditions.”
  • Display readers how two subjects are similar and different. Example: “While both The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird explore the themes of loss of innocence and the deep bond inbetween siblings, To Kill a Mockingbird is more worried with racism while The Catcher in the Rye concentrates on the prejudices of class.”
  • In middle school and high school, the standard format for essays is often the “5-paragraph form,” with an introduction, Three assets paragraphs, and a conclusion. If your teacher recommends this form, go for it. However, you should be aware that especially in college, teachers and professors tend to want students to break out of this limited mode. Don’t get so locked into having “three main points” that you leave behind to fully explore your topic.
  • Part Two of Four:
    Organizing Your Essay Edit

    Determine on a structure. There are several ways to organize a compare-and-contrast essay. Which one you choose depends on what works best for your ideas. Recall, you can switch your organization later if you determine it isn’t working. [Four] [Five]

  • Subject by subject. This organization deals with all of the points about Topic A, then all of the points of Topic B. For example, you could discuss all your points about frozen pizza (in as many paragraphs as necessary), then all your points about homemade pizza. The strength of this form is that you don’t leap back and forward as much inbetween topics, which can help your essay read more sleekly. It can also be helpful if you are using one subject as a “lens” through which to examine the other. The major disadvantage is that the comparisons and contrasts don’t truly become evident until much further into the essay, and it can end up reading like a list of “points” rather than a cohesive essay. [6]
  • Point by point. This type of organization switches back and forward inbetween points. For example, you could very first discuss the prices of frozen pizza vs. homemade pizza, then the quality of ingredients, then the convenience factor. The advantage of this form is that it’s very clear what you’re comparing and contrasting. The disadvantage is that you do switch back and forward inbetween topics, so you need to make sure that you use transitions and signposts to lead your reader through your argument.
  • Compare then contrast. This organization presents all the comparisons very first, then all the contrasts. It’s a pretty common way of organizing an essay, and it can be helpful if you indeed want to emphasize how your subjects are different. Putting the contrasts last places the emphasis on them. However, it can be more difficult for your readers to instantaneously see why these two subjects are being contrasted if all the similarities are very first. [7]
  • Outline your essay. Outlining your essay will help you work out the main organizational structure and will give you a template to go after as you develop your ideas. No matter how you determined to organize your essay, you will still need to have the following types of paragraphs: [8]

  • Introduction. This paragraph comes very first and presents the basic information about the subjects to be compared and contrasted. It should present your thesis and the direction of your essay (i.e. what you will discuss and why your readers should care).
  • Figure Paragraphs. These are the meat of your essay, where you provide the details and evidence that support your claims. Each different section or bod paragraph should tackle a different division of proof. It should provide and analyze evidence in order to connect those proofs to your thesis and support your thesis. Many middle-school and high-school essays may only require three figure paragraphs, but use as many as is necessary to fully convey your argument.
  • Acknowledgement of Competitive Arguments/Concession. This paragraph acknowledges that other counter-arguments exist, but discusses how those arguments are flawed or do not apply.
  • Conclusion. This paragraph summarizes the evidence introduced. It will restate the thesis, but usually in a way that offers more information or sophistication than the introduction could. Reminisce: your audience now has all the information you gave them about why your argument is solid. They don’t need you to just reword your original thesis. Take it to the next level!
  • Outline your bod paragraphs based on subject-to-subject comparison. Let’s say you’re working with the following statement: “When determining inbetween whether to go camping in the forest or spend a day at the beach, one should consider the following points: the weather, the types of activities each location offers, and the facilities at each location.” A subject-by-subject comparison would deal very first with the forest, and then with the beach. This method of organization can be unwieldy, so if you choose it, be sure not to let your paragraphs become page-long lists of points about each subject. You can still have a paragraph per point about each subject; you’ll just put all the paragraphs about each subject together. A subject-to-subject bod paragraph outline could look like this: [9]

  • Introduction: state your intent to discuss the differences inbetween camping in the forest or on the beach.
  • Assets Paragraph 1 (Forest): Climate/Weather
  • Figure Paragraph Two (Forest): Types of Activities and Facilities
  • Figure Paragraph Trio (Beach): Climate/Weather
  • Figure Paragraph Four (Beach): Types of Activities and Facilities
  • Conclusion
  • Outline your assets paragraphs based on point-by-point comparison. This is the more common method used in the comparison and contrast essay. [Ten] You can write a paragraph about each characteristic of both locations, comparing the locations in the same paragraph. For example, in this case, you could write one paragraph describing the weather in both the forest and the beach, one paragraph describing the activities in each location, and a third describing the facilities in both. Here’s how the essay could look: [11]

  • Introduction
  • Figure Paragraph 1: Discuss very first difference inbetween forest and beaches: climate/weather.
  • Forest
  • Beach
  • Figure Paragraph Two: Discuss 2nd difference inbetween forest and beaches: types of activities.
  • Figure Paragraph Trio: Discuss third difference inbetween forest and beaches: available facilities.
    Outline your bod paragraphs based on compare then contrast. This type of organization works best for when you want to emphasize the contrasts inbetween your subjects. Very first, you discuss how your subjects are similar. Then, you end with how they’re different (and, usually, how one is superior). Here’s how your essay could look with this organization:

  • Bod Paragraph 1: Similarity inbetween forest and beaches (both are places with a broad multitude of things to do)
  • Assets Paragraph Two: Very first difference inbetween forest and beaches (they have different climates)
  • Assets Paragraph Trio: 2nd difference inbetween forest and beaches (there are more lightly accessible forest than beaches in most parts of the country)
  • Bod Paragraph Four: Emphasis on the superiority of the forest to the beach
  • Organize your individual bod paragraphs. Once you’ve chosen an organizational method for your bod paragraphs, you’ll need to have an internal organization for the assets paragraphs themselves. Each of your bod paragraphs will need to have the three following elements:

  • Topic sentence: This sentence introduces the main idea and subject of the paragraph. It can also provide a transition from the ideas in the previous paragraph.
  • Bod: These sentences provide concrete evidence that support the topic sentence and main idea.
  • Conclusion: this sentence wraps up the ideas in the paragraph. It may also provide a link to the next paragraph’s ideas.
  • Use your brainstorming ideas to pack in your outline. Once you’ve outlined your essay, it should be fairly ordinary to find evidence for your arguments. Look at the lists and diagrams you generated to help you find the evidence for your comparisons and contrasts.

  • If you are having trouble finding evidence to support your argument, go back to your original texts and attempt the brainstorming process again. It could be that your argument is evolving past where it embarked, which is good! You just need to go back and look for further evidence.
  • Recall to explain the “why. ” A common error many writers make is to let the comparisons and contrasts “speak for themselves,” rather than explaining why it’s helpful or significant to put them together. Don’t just provide a list of “ways Topic A and Topic B are similar and different.” In your figure paragraphs as well as your conclusion, remind your readers of the significance of your evidence and argument.

  • For example, in a assets paragraph about the quality of ingredients in frozen vs. homemade pizza, you could close with an assertion like this: “Because you actively control the quality of the ingredients in pizza you make at home, it can be healthier for you than frozen pizza. It can also let you express your imagination. Pineapple and peanut butter pizza? Go for it! Pickles and parmesan? Do it! Using your own ingredients lets you have joy with your food.” This type of comment helps your reader understand why the capability to choose your own ingredients makes homemade pizza better.
  • Come up with a title. “Essay Number One” may say exactly what the paper is, but it’s not going to win any points for style. A good essay title will preview something about the paper’s argument or topic. Depending on your audience and the situation, you may make a joke or a pun, ask a question, or provide a summary of your main point.

    Take a break. One of the most common mistakes student writers make is to not give themselves enough time to take a step back from their essays for a day or two. Begin early so that you can let your finished draft sit for a day, or at least a few hours. Then, come back to it with fresh eyes. You’ll find it lighter to see crevices in your logic or organizational flaws if you’ve had time to take a break.

  • Reading your essay aloud can also help you find problem catches sight of. Often, when you’re writing you get so used to what you meant to say that you don’t read what you actually said.
  • Review your essay. Look out for any grammatical errors, confusing phrasing, and repetitive ideas. Look for a balance in your paper: you should provide about the same amount of information about each topic to avoid bias. Here are some things to consider before you turn in your paper:

  • Avoid bias. Don’t use overly negative or defamatory language to demonstrate why a subject is unfavorable; use solid evidence to prove your points instead.
  • Avoid first-person pronouns unless told otherwise. In some cases, your teacher may encourage you to use “I” and “you” in your essay. However, if the assignment or your teacher doesn’t mention it, stick with third-person instead, like “one may see” or “people may love.” This is common practice for formal academic essays.
  • Proofread! Spelling and punctuation errors happen to everyone, but not catching them can make you seem lazy. Go over your essay cautiously, and ask a friend to help if you’re not certain in your own proofreading abilities.
  • Part Four of Four:
    Sample Bod Paragraphs Edit

    Write a figure paragraph for a point-by-point compare and contrast essay. Here is a sample paragraph for a figure paragraph that uses point-by-point comparison:

  • “When one is determining whether to go to the beach or the forest, the type of activities that each location offers are an significant point to consider. At the beach, one can love the water by swimming, surfing, or even building a sandcastle with a moat that will pack with water. When one is in the forest, one may be able to go fishing or swimming in a nearby lake, or one may not be near water at all. At the beach, one can keep one’s kids entertained by burying them in sand or kicking around a soccer ball; if one is in the forest, one can entertain one’s kids by showcasing them different plans or animals. Both the beach and the forest suggest a multitude of activities for adults and kids alike.”
  • Write a assets paragraph for a subject-by-subject compare and contrast essay. Here is a sample paragraph for a assets paragraph that uses subject-by-subject comparison:

  • “The beach has a wonderful climate, many activities, and good facilities for any visitor’s everyday use. If a person goes to the beach during the right day or time of year, he or she can love warm, yet refreshing water, a cool breeze, and a relatively hot climate. At the beach, one can go swimming, sunbathe, or build sandcastles. There are also good facilities at the beach, such as a switching room, umbrellas, and conveniently-located restaurants and switching facilities. The climate, activities, and facilities are significant points to consider when determining inbetween the beach and the forest.”
  • Collect your sources. Mark page numbers in books, authors, titles, dates, or other applicable information. This will help you cite your sources later on in the writing process.

    Use reputable sources. While Wikipedia may be an effortless way to embark off, attempt to go to more specific websites afterwards. Many schools turn down to accept Wikipedia as a valid source of information, and choose sources with more expertise and credibility.

    Don’t rush through your writing. If you have a deadline, embark early. If you rush, the writing won’t not be as good as it could be.

    How to Find a Catchy Title for Your Paper/Essay

    How to Write a Comparative Essay

    How to Write an Analytical Essay

    How to Write an Academic Essay

    How to Write a Five Paragraph Essay

    How to Write a Descriptive Essay

    How to Write an English Essay

    How to Write a Critical Essay

    How to Write a Persuasive Essay

    How to Write an Essay

    How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

    The purpose of a compare and contrast essay is to analyze the differences and/or the similarities of two distinct subjects. A good compare/contrast essay doesn’t only point out how the subjects are similar or different (or even both!). It uses those points to make a meaningful argument about the subjects. While it can be a little intimidating to treatment this type of essay at very first, with a little work and practice, you can write a fine compare-and-contrast essay!

    Related video: Letter From the Farmer #1


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