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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Last Updated: May 12, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, PhD . Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2015. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 29 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 3,102,325 times.

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 approach this type of essay at first, with a little work and practice, you can write a great compare-and-contrast essay!

Formulating Your Argument

Step 1 Pick two subjects that can be compared and contrasted.

  • 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 appear to have anything in common but that have a surprising similarity. For example, you could choose to compare bats and whales. (One is tiny and flies, and the other is huge and swims, but they both use sonar to hunt.)
  • You could pick two subjects that might appear to be the same but are actually different. For example, you could choose "The Hunger Games movie vs. the book."

Step 2 Make sure that your subjects can be discussed in a meaningful way.

  • For example, ask yourself: What can we learn by thinking about “The Hunger 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 deciding whether your subjects have meaningful comparisons and contrasts to be made. If you say “The Hunger Games and Battle Royale are both similar and different,” and your friend asked you “So what?” what would your answer be? In other words, why bother putting these two things together?

Step 3 Brainstorm your topic.

  • 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. [2] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
  • You can also just draw out a list of all of the qualities or characteristics of each subject. Once you’ve done that, start looking through the list for traits that both subjects share. Major points of difference are also good to note.

Step 4 Consider your main points.

  • For example, if you are comparing and contrasting cats and dogs, you might notice that both are common household pets, fairly easy 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 start 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.)?

Step 5 Develop your thesis.

  • Show 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 between two subjects. Example: "New York City and San Francisco are both great cities for young professionals, but they differ in terms of their job opportunities, social environment, and living conditions."
  • Show 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 between siblings, To Kill a Mockingbird is more concerned with racism while The Catcher in the Rye focuses 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, 3 body 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 forget to fully explore your topic.

Organizing Your Essay

Step 1 Decide on a structure.

  • 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 jump back and forth as much between topics, which can help your essay read more smoothly. 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 really become evident until much further into the essay, and it can end up reading like a list of “points” rather than a cohesive essay. [4] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
  • Point by point. This type of organization switches back and forth between points. For example, you could 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 forth between 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 first, then all the contrasts. It’s a pretty common way of organizing an essay, and it can be helpful if you really 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 immediately see why these two subjects are being contrasted if all the similarities are first.

Step 2 Outline your essay.

  • Introduction. This paragraph comes 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).
  • Body Paragraphs. These are the meat of your essay, where you provide the details and evidence that support your claims. Each different section or body 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 body 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 presented. It will restate the thesis, but usually in a way that offers more information or sophistication than the introduction could. Remember: 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!

Step 3 Outline your body paragraphs based on subject-to-subject comparison.

  • Introduction: state your intent to discuss the differences between camping in the woods or on the beach.
  • Body Paragraph 1 (Woods): Climate/Weather
  • Body Paragraph 2 (Woods): Types of Activities and Facilities
  • Body Paragraph 3 (Beach): Climate/Weather
  • Body Paragraph 4 (Beach): Types of Activities and Facilities

Step 4 Outline your body paragraphs based on point-by-point comparison.

  • Introduction

Step 5 Outline your body paragraphs based on compare then contrast.

  • Body Paragraph 1: Similarity between woods and beaches (both are places with a wide variety of things to do)
  • Body Paragraph 2: First difference between woods and beaches (they have different climates)
  • Body Paragraph 3: Second difference between woods and beaches (there are more easily accessible woods than beaches in most parts of the country)
  • Body Paragraph 4: Emphasis on the superiority of the woods to the beach

Step 6 Organize your individual body paragraphs.

  • 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.
  • Body: 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.

Putting It All Together

Step 1 Use your brainstorming ideas to fill in your outline.

  • If you are having trouble finding evidence to support your argument, go back to your original texts and try the brainstorming process again. It could be that your argument is evolving past where it started, which is good! You just need to go back and look for further evidence.

Step 2 Remember to explain the “why.”

  • For example, in a body 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 fun with your food.” This type of comment helps your reader understand why the ability to choose your own ingredients makes homemade pizza better.

Step 3 Come up with a title.

  • Reading your essay aloud can also help you find problem spots. Often, when you’re writing you get so used to what you meant to say that you don’t read what you actually said.

Step 5 Review your essay.

  • Avoid bias. Don't use overly negative or defamatory language to show 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 enjoy.” 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 carefully, and ask a friend to help if you’re not confident in your own proofreading skills.

Sample Body Paragraphs

Step 1 Write a body paragraph for a point-by-point compare and contrast essay.

  • "When one is deciding whether to go to the beach or the woods, the type of activities that each location offers are an important point to consider. At the beach, one can enjoy the water by swimming, surfing, or even building a sandcastle with a moat that will fill with water. When one is in the woods, 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 woods, one can entertain one's kids by showing them different plans or animals. Both the beach and the woods offer a variety of activities for adults and kids alike."

Step 2 Write a body paragraph for a subject-by-subject compare and contrast essay.

  • "The beach has a wonderful climate, many activities, and great 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 enjoy 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 great facilities at the beach, such as a changing room, umbrellas, and conveniently-located restaurants and changing facilities. The climate, activities, and facilities are important points to consider when deciding between the beach and the woods."

Sample Essay Outline

how do you start a compare and contrast essay

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About This Article

Megan Morgan, PhD

To write a compare and contrast essay, try organizing your essay so you're comparing and contrasting one aspect of your subjects in each paragraph. Or, if you don't want to jump back and forth between subjects, structure your essay so the first half is about one subject and the second half is about the other. You could also write your essay so the first few paragraphs introduce all of the comparisons and the last few paragraphs introduce all of the contrasts, which can help emphasize your subjects' differences and similarities. To learn how to choose subjects to compare and come up with a thesis statement, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Comparing and Contrasting: A Guide to Improve Your Essays

Walter Akolo

Walter Akolo

Comparing and contrasting in essays

Essays that require you to compare and contrast two or more subjects, ideas, places, or items are common.

They call for you to highlight the key similarities (compare) and differences (contrast) between them.

This guide contains all the information you need to become better at writing comparing and contrasting essays.

This includes: how to structure your essay, how to decide on the content, and some examples of essay questions.

Let’s dive in.

Compare and contrast definition

What Is Comparing and Contrasting?

Is compare and contrast the same as similarities and differences, what is the purpose of comparing and contrasting, can you compare and contrast any two items, how do you compare and contrast in writing, what are some comparing and contrasting techniques, how do you compare and contrast in college level writing, the four essentials of compare and contrast essays, what can you learn from a compare and contrast essay.

At their most basic, both comparing and contrasting base their evaluation on two or more subjects that share a connection.

The subjects could have similar characteristics, features, or foundations.

But while a comparison discusses the similarities of the two subjects, e.g. a banana and a watermelon are both fruit, contrasting highlights how the subjects or items differ from each other, e.g. a watermelon is around 10 times larger than a banana.

Any question that you are asked in education will have a variety of interesting comparisons and deductions that you can make.

Compare is the same as similarities.

Contrast is the same as differences.

This is because comparing identifies the likeness between two subjects, items, or categories, while contrasting recognizes disparities between them.

When you compare things, you represent them regarding their similarity, but when you contrast things, you define them in reference to their differences.

As a result, if you are asked to discuss the similarities and differences between two subjects, you can take an identical approach to if you are writing a compare and contrast essay.

In writing, the purpose of comparing and contrasting is to highlight subtle but important differences or similarities that might not be immediately obvious.

The purpose of comparing and contrasting

By illustrating the differences between elements in a similar category, you help heighten readers’ understanding of the subject or topic of discussion.

For instance, you might choose to compare and contrast red wine and white wine by pointing out the subtle differences. One of these differences is that red wine is best served at room temperature while white is best served chilled.

Also, comparing and contrasting helps to make abstract ideas more definite and minimizes the confusion that might exist between two related concepts.

Can Comparing and Contrasting Be Useful Outside of Academia?

Comparing enables you to see the pros and cons, allowing you to have a better understanding of the things under discussion. In an essay, this helps you demonstrate that you understand the nuances of your topic enough to draw meaningful conclusions from them.

Let's use a real-word example to see the benefits. Imagine you're contrasting two dresses you could buy. You might think:

  • Dress A is purple, my favorite color, but it has a difficult zip and is practically impossible to match a jacket to.
  • Dress B is more expensive but I already have a suitable pair of shoes and jacket and it is easier to move in.

You're linking the qualities of each dress to the context of the decision you're making. This is the same for your essay. Your comparison and contrast points will be in relation to the question you need to answer.

Comparing and contrasting is only a useful technique when applied to two related concepts.

To effectively compare two or more things, they must feature characteristics similar enough to warrant comparison.

In addition to this they must also feature a similarity that generates an interesting discussion. But what do I mean by “interesting” here?

Let’s look at two concepts, the Magna Carta and my third grade poetry competition entry.

They are both text, written on paper by a person so they fulfil the first requirement, they have a similarity. But this comparison clearly would not fulfil the second requirement, you would not be able to draw any interesting conclusions.

However, if we compare the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights, you would be able to come to some very interesting conclusions concerning the history of world politics.

To write a good compare and contrast essay, it’s best to pick two or more topics that share a meaningful connection .

The aim of the essay would be to show the subtle differences or unforeseen similarities.

By highlighting the distinctions between elements in a similar category you can increase your readers’ understanding.

Alternatively, you could choose to focus on a comparison between two subjects that initially appear unrelated.

The more dissimilar they seem, the more interesting the comparison essay will turn out.

For instance, you could compare and contrast professional rugby players with marathon runners.

Can You Compare and Contrast in an Essay That Does Not Specifically Require It?

As a writer, you can employ comparing and contrasting techniques in your writing, particularly when looking for ideas you can later apply in your argument.

You can do this even when the comparison or contrast is not a requirement for the topic or argument you are presenting. Doing so could enable you to build your evaluation and develop a stronger argument.

Note that the similarities and differences you come up with might not even show up in the final draft.

While the use of compare and contrast can be neutral, you can also use it to highlight one option under discussion. When used this way, you can influence the perceived advantages of your preferred option.

As a writing style, comparing and contrasting can encompass an entire essay. However, it could also appear in some select paragraphs within the essay, where making some comparisons serves to better illustrate a point.

What Should You Do First?

Before you compare two things, always start by deciding on the reason for your comparison, then outline the criteria you will use to compare them.

Words and phrases commonly used for comparison include:

Comparison words and phrases

In writing, these words and phrases are called transitions . They help readers to understand or make the connection between sentences, paragraphs, and ideas.

Without transition words writing can feel clumsy and disjointed making it difficult to read. ProWritingAid’s transition report highlights all of a documents transitions and suggests that 25% of any sentences in a piece include a transition.

ProWritingAid's Transition Report

Sign up for a free ProWritingAid account to use the Transitions Report.

So, how do you form all of this into a coherent essay? It's a good idea to plan first, then decide what your paragraph layout will look like.

Venn diagrams are useful tool to start generating ideas. The, for your essay, you need to choose between going idea by idea and going point by point.

Using a Venn Diagram

A Venn diagram helps you to clearly see the similarities and differences between multiple objects, things, or subjects.

The writing tool comprises two, or more, simple, overlapping circles in which you list down the things that are alike (within the overlapping area) and those that differ (outside the overlapping area).

It’s great for brainstorming ideas and for creating your essay’s outline. You could even use it in an exam setting because it is quick and simple.

Going Subject by Subject

Going subject by subject is a structural choice for your essay.

Start by saying all you have to say on the first subject, then proceed to do the same about the second subject.

Depending on the length of your essay, you can fit the points about each subject into one paragraph or have several sections per each subject, ending with a conclusion.

This method is best for short essays on simple topics. Most university-level essays will go point by point instead.

Going Point by Point

Going point by point, or alternating, is the opposite essay structure from going subject by subject. This is ideal when you want to do more direct comparing and contrasting. It entails discussing one comparison point at a time. It allows you to use a paragraph to talk about how a certain comparing/contrasting point relates to the subjects or items you are discussing.

Alternatively, if you have lots of details about the subject, you might decide to use a paragraph for each point.

Different ways to compare and contrast

An academic compare and contrast essay looks at two or more subjects, ideas, people, or objects, compares their likeness, and contrasts their differences.

It’s an informative essay that provides insights on what is similar and different between the two items.

Depending on the essay’s instructions, you can focus solely on comparing or contrasting, or a combination of the two.

Examples of College Level Compare and Contrast Essay Questions

Here are eleven examples of compare and contrast essay questions that you might encounter at university:

Compare and contrast examples

  • Archaeology: Compare and contrast the skulls of homo habilis, homo erectus, and homo sapiens.
  • Art: Compare and contrast the working styles of any two Neoclassic artists.
  • Astrophysics: Compare and contrast the chemical composition of Venus and Neptune.
  • Biology: Compare and contrast the theories of Lamarck and Darwin.
  • Business: Compare and contrast 2 or more business models within the agricultural industry.
  • Creative writing: Compare and contrast free indirect discourse with epistolary styles.
  • English Literature: Compare and contrast William Wordsworth with Robert Browning.
  • Geography: Compare and contrast the benefit of solar panels with the benefit of wind turbines.
  • History: Compare and contrast WWI to WWII with specific reference to the causes and outcomes.
  • Medicine: Compare and contrast England’s health service with America’s health service.
  • Psychology: Compare and contrast the behaviorist theory with the psychodynamic theory.

So, the key takeaways to keep in mind are:

Have a basis for comparison. The two things need to have enough in common to justify a discussion about their similarities and disparities.

Don’t go back and forth when using the block method. The best way to write your essay is to begin with a paragraph discussing all the facets of the first topic. Then, move on to another paragraph and talk through all the aspects of the second subject.

You can use both alternating and blocking techniques. Combining the two approaches is also an option. You can apply the alternating method in some paragraphs, then switch and use the block method. This method will help you offer a much deeper analysis of the subjects.

Have a reason for comparing the two things. Only select the points of comparison that resonate with your purpose.

Compare and contrast, key takeaways

Comparing and contrasting are essential analytical skills in academic writing. When your professor issues you with such an essay, their primary goal is to teach you how to:

  • Engage in critical thinking
  • See and make connections between words or ideas
  • Move beyond mere descriptions or summaries to developing interesting analysis
  • Get a deeper understanding of the subjects or items under comparison, their key features, and their interrelationships with each other.

The benefits of comparing and contrasting

Ultimately, your essay should enlighten readers by providing useful information.

Want to use ProWritingAid with your classroom? Download this free book now:

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how do you start a compare and contrast essay

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Walter Akolo is a freelance writer, internet marketer, trainer, and blogger for hire. He loves helping businesses increase their reach and conversion through excellent and engaging content. He has gotten millions of pageviews on his blog, FreelancerKenya, where he mentors writers. Check out his website walterakolo.com.

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  • Writing Tips

Tips for Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

Tips for Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

5-minute read

  • 19th August 2022

Compare and contrast essays are a specific form of academic essay with unique requirements, so if you’re a student , it’s important that you to know how to write one. Luckily, we’ve pieced together this guide to help you plan, structure, and put together your essay, complete with tips for comparing and contrasting.

Let’s begin.

1. What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay?

As you may have guessed, when writing a compare and contrast essay, you’ll need to do two things:

  • Compare the similarities between two or more given subjects.
  • Contrast their differences.

Compare and contrast essays are a common essay style because they allow your teacher or lecturer to assess your understanding of two theories, research methods, literary techniques, or other subjects. These subjects are usually related and may sometimes be confused with one another or are in conflict with each other.

By comparing and contrasting the subjects, you can also improve your analysis skills .

Some examples of compare and contrast essay titles include:

Compare and contrast a Shakespearean sonnet with a Petrarchan sonnet. What are the similarities and differences between anabolic and catabolic reactions? How were Nehru’s political beliefs similar to Gandhi’s? How did they differ?

2. Planning a Compare and Contrast Essay

As with any essay, before you begin writing, you should have a plan . In this case, you’ll first need to identify the similarities and differences between your subjects.

You can do this by writing out a list of all the qualities each subject possesses. Then, you can pick out any similar qualities that show up in both lists, and any qualities that are unique to just one of them. If you’re a visual learner, you might want to draw this as a Venn diagram .

Once you have all the similarities and differences prepared, consider which of them will be the most useful to include in your essay. Ask yourself:

  • How much can you write about each point?
  • What will your conclusion be, and which points support it?
  • How will each point fit into your essay’s structure?

To answer that last question, let’s take a look at some ways to structure your essay.

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3. Structuring a Compare and Contrast Essay

Now that you’ve got a plan for your essay, it’s time to organize it. There are three main structures you can follow when writing a compare and contrast essay: 

  • The block structure: All of the information about one subject (e.g., Shakespearean sonnets) is presented in the first few paragraphs, followed by the subject it’s being compared and contrasted with (e.g., Petrarchan sonnets).
  • The alternating structure: One similarity or difference between both subjects (e.g., rhyme scheme) is explored in one paragraph, followed by a paragraph on another similarity or difference (e.g., use of imagery), and so on.
  • The similarities and differences structure: All the similarities between both subjects are presented, followed by the differences.

There are benefits to each of these structures. The block structure, for example, can be easier to write, while the alternating structure presents each similarity and difference clearly, and the similarities and differences structure focuses on those points rather than the subjects themselves. 

So, when deciding which structure to use, consider what would work best for your essay. If you intend to cover each subject in detail, for example, you might want to choose the block structure. 

On the other hand, if you want to emphasize the connections between each subject, the alternating structure might be best. 

Finally, if you want to conclude that the subjects are either overwhelmingly similar or different to each other, the similarities and differences structure may work in your favor.

Whichever structure you follow, though, you’ll need to include a strong introduction and conclusion.

Your introduction should:

  • Establish the subjects you will be comparing and contrasting.
  • Provide some background about their connection (e.g., “Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnets are poetic forms common in the 14th to 19th centuries”).
  • Explain what you aim to achieve with your essay.

Meanwhile, your conclusion should:

  • Summarize the main similarities and differences you have identified.
  • Make a point regarding the relationship between your subjects.

4. Things to Remember

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when writing your compare and contrast essay:

  • Ensure you are comparing or contrasting the same criteria between each subject. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to compare the line length of a Shakespearean sonnet with the rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan sonnet, as these are two separate categories.
  • Always address both subjects of your essay in any introductions, conclusions, and topic sentences.
  • Use comparison words and phrases such as “similarly,” “like,” and “in the same way” when comparing subjects.
  • Use contrast words and phrases such as “in contrast,” “however,” and “whereas” when contrasting subjects.
  • As with any essay, make sure to back up any arguments you make with evidence and credible sources .

Expert Academic Proofreading

Once you’ve written your compare and contrast essay, don’t forget to have it proofread. Our dedicated essay editing team is available 24/7 to help polish your paper. Try us out with a free proofreading and editing sample .

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

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WHAT IS A COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY?

Essentially, compare and contrast essays ask students to evaluate the similarities and differences between two things.

Usually, there will be some meaningful connection between the two things to be compared and contrasted.

These essays are not merely about stating the obvious; instead, they challenge the students to explore two or more topics and then express subtle similarities and understated differences that may not be immediately obvious to the casual reader.

For example, there is little point in asking students to  compare and contrast  a computer and a bicycle.

Both are material objects, but the extreme differences are obvious apart from that. More useful would be to ask students to compare and contrast two different models of computers or two different brands of bicycles to help them decide which to buy.

Compare and contrast essays encourage students to make distinctions and evaluate things that largely belong in the same category. This is an instrumental and practical skill to develop.

In this article, we will explore how to approach the writing of compare-and-contrast essays in a step-by-step manner. Following this method, students can soon write a well-structured compare-and-contrast essay on practically any topic.

Let’s get started.

Visual Writing

A COMPLETE UNIT ON COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY WRITING

compare and contrast essay | compare and contrast unit 1 | How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay | literacyideas.com

Teach your students how to write amazing compare and contrast essays with this  COMPLETE UNIT  of work which guides students through the process of research, analysis and articulating their thoughts into a well-structured essay.

IT INCLUDES

HOW TO WRITE A COMPARE & CONTRAST ESSAY

1. understand your task and purpose.

Compare, and contrast type questions ask students to do one of three things:

  • To compare two or more things.
  • To contrast two or more things.
  • To compare and contrast two or more things.

compare and contrast essay | analyse the question 1 | How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay | literacyideas.com

For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume the compare and contrast essay is focused on comparing and contrasting two things.

Now, let’s break down the two keywords to examine what they ask the students to do:

Compare asks the students to look at two things in relation to their similarities.

Let’s compare apples and oranges as a quick example.

Apples and oranges have many commonalities. Firstly, they are both fruits that are grown on trees. They are also both a popular and tasty food choice for many people.

Additionally, apples and oranges are nutritious and provide essential vitamins and minerals for our bodies.

Finally, apples and oranges can be used in various recipes, from baked goods to juices, and they are both easily accessible and affordable. So, even though apples and oranges are different in many ways, they both have some similarities that make them essential parts of a healthy and balanced diet.

Contrast asks the students to examine how the two things differ. Let’s now explore the differences in a quick written example.

Apples and oranges differ in many ways. Firstly, they have a different appearance – apples are round and come in different colors like red, green and yellow, while oranges are oval and have a bright orange appearance.

Secondly, they have a different texture – apples are crunchy, while oranges are juicy. They have different tastes – apples are sweet and tangy, while oranges are sweet and slightly sour.

They also contain different vitamins and minerals – apples are a good source of vitamin C, while oranges are a great source of vitamin C and fibre. So, even though they are both fruits, apples and oranges are different in terms of their appearance, taste, and nutritional value.

It is important that students do both when they are asked a compare-and-contrast question. It may seem obvious, but very often students do one and neglect to do the other.

These ‘things’ could be anything from historical figures to poems, philosophies to fictional characters, but the essential criteria will remain pretty much the same regardless.

2. Identify Similarities and Differences

compare and contrast essay | similarities and differences 1 | How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay | literacyideas.com

The starting point for planning this type of essay is to list the similarities and differences between the two things. This can be done simply in table form or, for the more visually orientated, in the form of a Venn diagram.

Venn diagrams are an especially useful form of graphic organizer that allows the student to see the information at a glance. This is extremely helpful while students are writing.

Brainstorming the similarities and differences can be done by focusing on one subject at a time or by dealing with common traits or features one by one. This will depend not just on the student’s preferences but on the nature of the subjects being examined.

Whether listing the similarities and differences in columns or on a Venn diagram, it’s helpful for students to keep their list of characteristics parallel. That is, the related features between each of the subjects should be displayed clearly together.

3. Choose a Suitable Organizational Structure

Once your students have listed their main points, they need to choose a suitable organizational structure to help present their ideas in essay form.

In most instances, one of two structures will best meet the needs of any compare-and-contrast type essay. These two possible organizational structures are:

  • The block structure
  • The point-by-point structure

In the block structure, each subject is dealt with in turn. That is, the characteristics of Subject 1 are written about first and, in the second half of the essay, the characteristics of Subject 2 are written about.

The block structure is generally easier to write as the student need only focus on one subject at a time.

However, the point-by-point structure more often provides a clearer vehicle for comparing and contrasting the various aspects of both subjects.

Using the point-by-point structure generally requires more skill from the student to weave the similarities and differences of each subject into the fabric of each paragraph. However, it is also the default setting for most compare and contrast essays, and students should be practised in it accordingly.

4. Gather Supporting Evidence

compare and contrast essay | supporting evidence 1 | How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay | literacyideas.com

Once students have analyzed the question and identified the similarities and differences between the two subjects, they’ll need to gather supporting evidence to back up any assertions they make in their essays.

Students can use many different types of evidence to support the statements in their essays.

Some of the most common types of evidence in compare and contrast essays include statistical, textual, testimonial, and anecdotal evidence.

Let’s take a closer look:

Statistical Evidence is perhaps the strongest type of evidence that can be used to support an argument. People like numbers! However, the most important aspect of using statistical evidence is that they come from a reliable source – those cynical of statistics echo the old adage, “ There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics ”.

Textual Evidence is often needed to support an argument, especially when writing about a book, a play, a speech, etc. When using textual evidence in an essay, it is important that students state clearly the source of the evidence they use. Textual evidence can come in many different forms, including:

●     Direct quotations from a text

●     Summaries of the content of a text

●     Paraphrasing of what an author has said on a topic.

Testimonial Evidence refers to the use of expert opinion to bolster an assertion. As with the use of statistical evidence, it is important to select the sources in question carefully. Selecting an unreliable or compromised ‘expert’ can call into question the merit of any argument made. When an expert has been chosen to provide testimonial type evidence, students should establish their credibility by stating who they are and why they are considered an expert before quoting them.

Anecdotal Evidence is often considered to be the weakest form of evidence due to its highly personal nature. Basically, anecdotal evidence takes the form of the retelling of a personal experience. Though it is often criticized as a weak form of evidence, it can be useful when used correctly in an essay. Anecdotes often work well as a ‘hook’ to grab the reader’s attention at the beginning of an essay. Not only do they grab the reader’s attention effectively, but anecdotes also work well in building a personal connection with readers from the outset.

5. Compare and Contrast Essay Transitional Language

Nothing makes a text staler for a reader than the overuse of favorite words and the endless repetition of pet phrases.

Variety is the spice of not only life but of essay writing too. As students weave comparisons and contrast into their essays, they’ll be required to employ transition signals to introduce their points.

Transition signals are words and phrases that are used to signal the relationship between ideas in a text to the reader. It is helpful to students to have a variety of these to hand and to know which can be used to introduce comparisons and which can be used to introduce contrasts.

Let’s take a look at some examples for each:

Comparison Transition Signals

  • Both…and…
  • Neither…nor…
  • Just as / Just like
  • In a similar manner
  • Analogous to

Contrasting Transition Signals

  • In contrast to / Contrastingly / In comparison / By comparison
  • On the contrary
  • On the other hand
  • Nevertheless

Tips for Writing a Great Compare and Contrast Essay

  • Start by choosing two logical subjects that you would like to compare and contrast.
  • Research both subjects thoroughly to gain a deeper understanding of their similarities and differences.
  • Create a clear and compelling thesis statement that defines the purpose of your essay.
  • Organize your essay into paragraphs that compare and contrast specific aspects of each subject.
  • Use relevant and appropriate examples to support your comparisons and contrasts.
  • Use transitional words and phrases to help guide the reader through your essay.
  • Avoid simply listing the similarities and differences of each subject. Instead, focus on making meaningful comparisons and contrasts.
  • Use a variety of sentence structures and vocabulary to make your writing engaging and interesting.
  • Revise and edit your essay for clarity, coherence, and grammatical correctness.
  • Proofread your essay one final time to catch any remaining errors and make sure that your essay is ready for submission.

Remember, writing a compare and contrast essay is an opportunity to show your creativity, critical thinking skills, and writing abilities. So, have fun with it and let your unique voice shine through!

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compare and contrast essay | digital graphic organizers 1 | How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay | literacyideas.com

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Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST TEACHING STRATEGIES AND ACTIVITIES

Compare and Contrast Activity #1

Students should get into the habit of closely examining the question they are writing the essay in response to, especially in high-pressure situations like exams.

Too often, students under pressure misread essay prompts and either miss out on a crucial aspect of the set question or, worst of all, answer an entirely different question to the one that was set.

To help students focus on the specifics of the question, encourage them to underline keywords and phrases with a highlighter or a colored pen.

Another great way to encourage students to focus attention on the specifics is to have students practice rewriting the question in their own words.

While this may not be practical in an exam situation, it is a great way for students to get accustomed to paying close attention to essay questions in less pressured scenarios such as homework and classwork.

Compare and Contrast Activity # 2

Set a compare and contrast question and then instruct your students to use a Venn diagram as a brainstorming tool to help organize their ideas.

Students should draw two circles slightly overlapping and write down things the subjects share in common in the intersection of the two circles. This will enable students to see areas of commonality and divergence between the two subjects at a glance.

Compare and Contrast Activity # 3

Students can use the information they produced in the previous two activities for this activity.

In this activity, students will draft three paragraphs for a compare-and-contrast essay using the point-by-point structure.

To do this, they will use the traditional five-paragraph essay structure as follows:

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction
  • Paragraphs 2, 3, & 4: Body Paragraphs
  • Paragraph 5: Conclusion

The focus of your students’ outlines will be on the body paragraphs. From the points listed in the previous exercises, students select 3 main points to focus on; one for each of the body paragraphs they’ll write.

Instruct students to make their point by focusing on Subject 1 first, and then on Subject 2. This will complete the first paragraph. They’ll then repeat this process for points 2 and 3 to produce paragraphs 2 and 3.

At the end of this, they will have the three body paragraphs of their compare and contrast essay. From there, they can then reverse engineer their introduction and then complete their conclusions.

This exercise is a useful way to provide students some practice in structuring body paragraphs. Not only that, but it’s also a legitimate way to write an essay itself. This method can often reveal to the writer the best way forward when it comes to writing the introduction and conclusion.

Compare and Contrast Activity #4

Using the points outlined in previous activities, challenge students to produce as many types of evidence in support of each assertion as possible. In groups, students can then present their evidence to each other and discuss which is the most convincing and why given the specific context.

Compare and Contrast Activity # 5

Whether making comparisons or contrasts, students must consider carefully which criteria they are using in regards to the two subjects they are dealing with.

For example, if students are contrasting two subjects, say, two people, they may write something like,

Alfred is intelligent and handsome, whereas Brian is short and strong.

While the use of the transition signal whereas in the above sentence effectively sets up a contrast between Alfred and Brian, what isn’t clear is which criteria are being contrasted.

When discussing Alfred’s attributes in the first part of the sentence, the criteria employed are intelligence and looks. In the second part of the sentence, two new criteria are introduced, namely height and physical strength.

This is one of the most common errors made by students in these types of essays. To help students gain practice in this area, write a few example sentences on the whiteboard using the model sentence above to help. Then, have students identify the four different criteria and write two separate contrast sentences that avoid the error illustrated.

For example, in response to the model sentence, students might write the following two corrections:

i. Alfred is intelligent and handsome, whereas Brian is stupid and ugly.

ii. Brian is short and strong, while Alfred is tall and weak.

You can encourage students to vary the contrast transition signals they use to gain practice in this area too.

Compare and Contrast Essay ExampleS (student Writing Samples)

Below are a collection of student writing samples of compare and contrast essay.  Click on the image to enlarge and explore them in greater detail.  Please take a moment to read both the compare and contrast essays in detail and the teacher and student guides highlighting some key elements to consider before writing.

Please understand these student writing samples are not intended to be perfect examples for each age or grade level but a piece of writing for students and teachers to explore together to critically analyze to improve student writing skills and deepen their understanding of compare and contrast writing.

We would recommend reading the example either a year above and below, as well as the grade you are currently working with, to gain a broader appreciation of this text type.

compare and contrast essay | compare and contrast essay year 6 1 1536x1536 1 | How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay | literacyideas.com

In Conclusion 

While there are many technical aspects for students to master on the road to producing well-written compare and contrast essays, the above provides a clear signpost to set them off in the right direction.

Most of the specific skills focused on in the practice activities above will not only improve your student’s abilities to write compare-and-contrast-type essays but will improve their writing in other areas too. Just be sure to offer ample opportunities to practice!

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COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY TUTORIAL VIDEOS

compare and contrast essay | COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY TUTORIAL 1 | How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay | literacyideas.com

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10.7 Comparison and Contrast

Learning objectives.

  • Determine the purpose and structure of comparison and contrast in writing.
  • Explain organizational methods used when comparing and contrasting.
  • Understand how to write a compare-and-contrast essay.

The Purpose of Comparison and Contrast in Writing

Comparison in writing discusses elements that are similar, while contrast in writing discusses elements that are different. A compare-and-contrast essay , then, analyzes two subjects by comparing them, contrasting them, or both.

The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. The purpose of conducting the comparison or contrast is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities. For example, if you wanted to focus on contrasting two subjects you would not pick apples and oranges; rather, you might choose to compare and contrast two types of oranges or two types of apples to highlight subtle differences. For example, Red Delicious apples are sweet, while Granny Smiths are tart and acidic. Drawing distinctions between elements in a similar category will increase the audience’s understanding of that category, which is the purpose of the compare-and-contrast essay.

Similarly, to focus on comparison, choose two subjects that seem at first to be unrelated. For a comparison essay, you likely would not choose two apples or two oranges because they share so many of the same properties already. Rather, you might try to compare how apples and oranges are quite similar. The more divergent the two subjects initially seem, the more interesting a comparison essay will be.

Writing at Work

Comparing and contrasting is also an evaluative tool. In order to make accurate evaluations about a given topic, you must first know the critical points of similarity and difference. Comparing and contrasting is a primary tool for many workplace assessments. You have likely compared and contrasted yourself to other colleagues. Employee advancements, pay raises, hiring, and firing are typically conducted using comparison and contrast. Comparison and contrast could be used to evaluate companies, departments, or individuals.

Brainstorm an essay that leans toward contrast. Choose one of the following three categories. Pick two examples from each. Then come up with one similarity and three differences between the examples.

  • Romantic comedies
  • Internet search engines
  • Cell phones

Brainstorm an essay that leans toward comparison. Choose one of the following three items. Then come up with one difference and three similarities.

  • Department stores and discount retail stores
  • Fast food chains and fine dining restaurants
  • Dogs and cats

The Structure of a Comparison and Contrast Essay

The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both and the reason for doing so. The thesis could lean more toward comparing, contrasting, or both. Remember, the point of comparing and contrasting is to provide useful knowledge to the reader. Take the following thesis as an example that leans more toward contrasting.

Thesis statement: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Here the thesis sets up the two subjects to be compared and contrasted (organic versus conventional vegetables), and it makes a claim about the results that might prove useful to the reader.

You may organize compare-and-contrast essays in one of the following two ways:

  • According to the subjects themselves, discussing one then the other
  • According to individual points, discussing each subject in relation to each point

See Figure 10.1 “Comparison and Contrast Diagram” , which diagrams the ways to organize our organic versus conventional vegetables thesis.

Figure 10.1 Comparison and Contrast Diagram

Comparison and Contrast Diagram

The organizational structure you choose depends on the nature of the topic, your purpose, and your audience.

Given that compare-and-contrast essays analyze the relationship between two subjects, it is helpful to have some phrases on hand that will cue the reader to such analysis. See Table 10.3 “Phrases of Comparison and Contrast” for examples.

Table 10.3 Phrases of Comparison and Contrast

Create an outline for each of the items you chose in Note 10.72 “Exercise 1” and Note 10.73 “Exercise 2” . Use the point-by-point organizing strategy for one of them, and use the subject organizing strategy for the other.

Writing a Comparison and Contrast Essay

First choose whether you want to compare seemingly disparate subjects, contrast seemingly similar subjects, or compare and contrast subjects. Once you have decided on a topic, introduce it with an engaging opening paragraph. Your thesis should come at the end of the introduction, and it should establish the subjects you will compare, contrast, or both as well as state what can be learned from doing so.

The body of the essay can be organized in one of two ways: by subject or by individual points. The organizing strategy that you choose will depend on, as always, your audience and your purpose. You may also consider your particular approach to the subjects as well as the nature of the subjects themselves; some subjects might better lend themselves to one structure or the other. Make sure to use comparison and contrast phrases to cue the reader to the ways in which you are analyzing the relationship between the subjects.

After you finish analyzing the subjects, write a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the essay and reinforces your thesis. See Chapter 15 “Readings: Examples of Essays” to read a sample compare-and-contrast essay.

Many business presentations are conducted using comparison and contrast. The organizing strategies—by subject or individual points—could also be used for organizing a presentation. Keep this in mind as a way of organizing your content the next time you or a colleague have to present something at work.

Choose one of the outlines you created in Note 10.75 “Exercise 3” , and write a full compare-and-contrast essay. Be sure to include an engaging introduction, a clear thesis, well-defined and detailed paragraphs, and a fitting conclusion that ties everything together.

Key Takeaways

  • A compare-and-contrast essay analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both.
  • The purpose of writing a comparison or contrast essay is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities between two subjects.
  • The thesis should clearly state the subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both, and it should state what is to be learned from doing so.

There are two main organizing strategies for compare-and-contrast essays.

  • Organize by the subjects themselves, one then the other.
  • Organize by individual points, in which you discuss each subject in relation to each point.
  • Use phrases of comparison or phrases of contrast to signal to readers how exactly the two subjects are being analyzed.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

how do you start a compare and contrast essay

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Writing a Paper: Comparing & Contrasting

A compare and contrast paper discusses the similarities and differences between two or more topics. The paper should contain an introduction with a thesis statement, a body where the comparisons and contrasts are discussed, and a conclusion.

Address Both Similarities and Differences

Because this is a compare and contrast paper, both the similarities and differences should be discussed. This will require analysis on your part, as some topics will appear to be quite similar, and you will have to work to find the differing elements.

Make Sure You Have a Clear Thesis Statement

Just like any other essay, a compare and contrast essay needs a thesis statement. The thesis statement should not only tell your reader what you will do, but it should also address the purpose and importance of comparing and contrasting the material.

Use Clear Transitions

Transitions are important in compare and contrast essays, where you will be moving frequently between different topics or perspectives.

  • Examples of transitions and phrases for comparisons: as well, similar to, consistent with, likewise, too
  • Examples of transitions and phrases for contrasts: on the other hand, however, although, differs, conversely, rather than.

For more information, check out our transitions page.

Structure Your Paper

Consider how you will present the information. You could present all of the similarities first and then present all of the differences. Or you could go point by point and show the similarity and difference of one point, then the similarity and difference for another point, and so on.

Include Analysis

It is tempting to just provide summary for this type of paper, but analysis will show the importance of the comparisons and contrasts. For instance, if you are comparing two articles on the topic of the nursing shortage, help us understand what this will achieve. Did you find consensus between the articles that will support a certain action step for people in the field? Did you find discrepancies between the two that point to the need for further investigation?

Make Analogous Comparisons

When drawing comparisons or making contrasts, be sure you are dealing with similar aspects of each item. To use an old cliché, are you comparing apples to apples?

  • Example of poor comparisons: Kubista studied the effects of a later start time on high school students, but Cook used a mixed methods approach. (This example does not compare similar items. It is not a clear contrast because the sentence does not discuss the same element of the articles. It is like comparing apples to oranges.)
  • Example of analogous comparisons: Cook used a mixed methods approach, whereas Kubista used only quantitative methods. (Here, methods are clearly being compared, allowing the reader to understand the distinction.

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4.1: Introduction to Comparison and Contrast Essay

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The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. Comparison and contrast is simply telling how two things are alike or different. The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both. The thesis should focus on comparing, contrasting, or both.

Key Elements of the Compare and Contrast:

  • A compare-and-contrast essay analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both.
  • The purpose of writing a comparison or contrast essay is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities between two subjects.
  • The thesis should clearly state the subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both, and it should state what is to be learned from doing so.
  • Organize by the subjects themselves, one then the other.
  • Organize by individual points, in which you discuss each subject in relation to each point.
  • Use phrases of comparison or phrases of contrast to signal to readers how exactly the two subjects are being analyzed.

Objectives: By the end of this unit, you will be able to

  • Identify compare & contrast relationships in model essays
  • Construct clearly formulated thesis statements that show compare & contrast relationships
  • Use pre-writing techniques to brainstorm and organize ideas showing a comparison and/or contrast
  • Construct an outline for a five-paragraph compare & contrast essay
  • Write a five-paragraph compare & contrast essay
  • Use a variety of vocabulary and language structures that express compare & contrast essay relationships

Example Thesis: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Graphic Showing Organization for Comparison Contrast Essay

Sample Paragraph:

Organic grown tomatoes purchased at the farmers’ market are very different from tomatoes that are grown conventionally. To begin with, although tomatoes from both sources will mostly be red, the tomatoes at the farmers’ market are a brighter red than those at a grocery store. That doesn’t mean they are shinier—in fact, grocery store tomatoes are often shinier since they have been waxed. You are likely to see great size variation in tomatoes at the farmers’ market, with tomatoes ranging from only a couple of inches across to eight inches across. By contrast, the tomatoes in a grocery store will be fairly uniform in size. All the visual differences are interesting, but the most important difference is the taste. The farmers’ market tomatoes will be bursting with flavor from ripening on the vine in their own time. However, the grocery store tomatoes are often close to being flavorless. In conclusion, the differences in organic and conventionally grown tomatoes are obvious in color, size and taste.

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How to write a compare and contrast essay, by luisa brenton.

As a student, you’ve got to write a lot of different essays and writing assignments, which all have different requirements and expectations. To get the best grade possible, it is important that you understand these differences and make use of them as best you can. In this way, you don’t spend time barking up the wrong tree.

Now, it would be great if we could deal with each and every essay expectations. That would make for a rather unwieldy blog post. So, instead, here we’re going to look at one of the most popular forms, which is the compare and contrast essay.

Recognizing the compare and contrast essay

Often they’re not actually that hard to spot. Some will even have the word ‘compare’ and ‘contrast’ in the title. For example, you might have ‘compare two romantic poets and explore the differences between them’ or ‘contrast the first and the Second World War and the political reasons for them’. Other words that you might see are such words as ‘differences’, ‘similarities’ or other words like that.

But it doesn’t always work out that easily. Sometimes you’re going to find questions that are far more subtle. For example, ‘take a major literary theme and explore how Virginia Wolfe and F Scott Fitzgerald dealt with them’ or ‘How does liberty evolve from the 15 th  to the 16 th  century?’

Yet, the idea though they might not use the words ‘compare’ and ‘contrast’ you can still find it between the lines.

Representing differences and similarities visually

When you’ve been asked to discuss the similarities or differences between two things (or three) then the best thing you can do is draw a Venn diagram. You know the one I’m talking about – where you draw as many circles as there are concepts (e.g. first world war and second world war) where they each overlap all the other circles?

Then you write the differences in the areas where the circles don’t overlap and the similarities in the areas where they do. In this way, you’ll have an easy time of knowing what the differences and similarities are.

Of course, don’t get carried away. Remember that you’re writing for a specific class, which means that you’re supposed to write about areas that fit within the structure thereof.

One trick that might work if you’re struggling to know what’s relevant is to include another circle in your diagram so that you can write those things that fall within the scope of the class inside of that circle and those that don’t outside of it.

Note that this strategy works a lot better if you’re only asked to compare two things, as when you’re asked to compare more it can get very confusing very quickly as there are just too many circles.

Decide what to write about

The next thing that you’ll need to decide on is what you’re going to include in your essay. The first things to focus on is what is absolutely essential to the argument you’re going to make. These points will need to be included no matter what.

If that alone does not fill up your essay, however, then it’s time to pull out a point system. Give things a score from one to five (or ten, if you’ve got a lot of topics and need the extra differentiation).

Things to base your score on:

  • Is it relevant to the class?
  • Is it interesting and informative?
  • Does it fit into the argument that you’re going to make or is it a tangent?
  • Is it a topic that the teacher or professor seems particularly interested in?
  • How obvious is it? (The more obvious, the less the need to include it)

Time to formulate your structure

The first thing that you want to do at this point is formulated your thesis. You probably already had a central argument outline above (otherwise you would have struggled to complete the last section) but now it’s time to put it down in words.

Don’t skip this part! Often you can realize where you’re making errors in your reasoning simply by writing down what you’re trying to argue. Also, always answer the most important question of all about your thesis and that is ‘why should I care about this particular question? Why is it relevant?’ That question will need to be answered somewhere in your essay.

That done, it’s time to create a structure. Return to your Venn diagram and take the pieces that you’ve ranked highest (as well as those that you decided are central to the question and your argument) and put them in order.

Make sure you start out with a whopper of an argument – something that’s engaging and interesting so that you draw in the reader. Take your second strongest argument and put it right at the end (this is important due to the peak and end effect, which states that we remember the end of things better than what comes in the middle).

Start writing

Now you’ve got everything worked out, all you’ve got to do is fill in the gaps. Now remember to use clear paragraphs and well-defined sentences. Also, remember to focus on good transitions, so that people can spot when you’re moving on from one area to another.

Now, if this is a struggle, don’t stress out too much. There are plenty of tools available to help you online – from other websites that deal with this kind of thing in more detail, to services that can help you with the process (check out the best sites for writing help).

And remember, if you’re struggling at this point, that doesn’t mean you always will. Essay writing (actually all writing) is something that you get better at over time, particularly if you pay attention to what your professors and teachers are saying and not just the grades they give you.

So with those thoughts, you should be much better prepared to deal with the contrast and comparison essay.  Let me know how it goes.

Luisa Brenton is an ex-marketer, present writer, and a future professor at the Chicago University. She has been working as an educational blogger for top websites.You can contact her on Twitter.

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Hi Luisa, I was searching for the tips to write an perfect essay for my college and found this. Thanks for the wonderful tips, will apply it and let you know the results.

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay?

09 November, 2020

17 minutes read

Author:  Elizabeth Brown

You have been assigned a compare and contrast essay but what is it and where do you even begin? The purpose of this type of essay is to focus on two or more topics examining them for subtle differences and unexpected similarities. These topics can be closely related, say a zebra and a horse, or they can be vastly different, like a pizza and salad. The focus of a compare and contrast essay is to bring to light something unknown, show whether one is superior to another, argue a point with supported facts, or clear up a misunderstanding.  

Compare and Contrast Essay

WWI and WWII. London and Paris. “Gone with the Wind” and “The Thorn Birds.” What do these things have in common? Or how do they differ?

This is a compare and contrast essay in a nutshell. Its main focus is on spotting the similarities or differences in terms of this or that object, phenomenon, or event. But there’s more to it. So, let’s look into all the details more profoundly.

Compare vs contrast

What is a compare and contrast essay?

A compare and contrast essay is a piece of academic writing focused on finding similarities or differences between several objects.

“Well,” you might think, “it’s the easiest paper ever. Why even bother looking for samples and examples?” Is that what you’re thinking? Then we’ve got a surprise for you.

Even though it all seems pretty self-explanatory, a compare and contrast essay can be a real challenge to compose. Especially if you don’t know all the pitfalls to pay attention to.

Evidently, you can always choose to seek the assistance of a good essay writing service like HandMadeWriting. With us, you don’t have to spend long nights working on a piece like this. However, we guarantee that we’ll cover all the bases in this guide and you’ll be able to craft a decent compare and contrast essay in the end.

Of course, the essence of this type of writing lies in finding common or different characteristics of two objects, places, events, or people. However, the piece can look differently depending on the approach a student considers to use when working on it.

While still on the subject, let’s look into different approaches to writing a compare and contrast essay.

How to write a Compare and contrast essay outline

how to write a compare and contrast essay outline

An outline will serve as a roadmap for your project. It will be the lighthouse you will keep your eyes on amidst all the arguments and ideas you want to mention in a piece.

Related Post: How to Write an Argumentative essay

Besides, it will help you keep your thoughts organized and well-structured. So, what should an outline for this type of essay look like?

Compare and Contrast essay outline example

Now use this scheme and adjust it to your own essay. Remember that an outline is only a blueprint: no need to go into numerous details at each section. Simply mention what you will talk about in each section and mark what sources you will use to back up your ideas.

Related Posts: Essay Outline | Research Paper Outline

Once you crafted an outline, you’re all set to start your essay.

The structure of a compare and contrast essay

There are three approaches to writing this type of essay:

  • Point by point method

Venn diagram

Block structure.

Approaches to writing a compare and contrast essay

Point-by-point method

This method focuses on comparing or contrasting various points of the same object. This being said, we find it essential to add that you can only choose two objects which you can really compare.

Thus, it is a great idea to compare two books of the same genre, but it makes no sense to compare a basketball and a soccer team: they’re completely different.

To demonstrate what this method is about, let’s try to compare public and private education in the USA. We will focus on three main aspects: the cost of such education, quality of education (based on the results and achievements of graduates), and the workload.

The author should mention these aspects in the introduction saying that he will compare or contrast two different options of obtaining a degree based on these points.

Next, come the main body paragraphs. Each of them is dedicated to only one point.

Topic: Public and private education comparison

Introduction.

Main body paragraphs #1:   The cost of education

  • Higher at privately help institutions (e.g. provide a range of tuition fees across one specialization)
  • Lower (yet not completely free) at public educational establishments (e.g. offer a list of things an average student pays for at a public institution)

Main body paragraph #2:   Quality of the education

  • Typically higher at private institutions (e.g. smaller classes, a more dedicated teacher-student approach, access to necessary materials, etc.)
  • Typically lower with exceptions (e.g. offer examples of statistical data which proves that public education can be just as effective)

Main body paragraph #3:   The workload

  • Heavier at private colleges where tutors get more one-on-one time with each student. As a result, students have less time for extracurricular activities.
  • Might be lighter than at a private institution.

Conclusion.

This is what a point-by-point approach looks like. Now, let’s check out the other two.

Venn diagram is “a diagram that shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of different sets.” It is an excellent tool to visualize the content and brainstorm ideas.

Specifically, if you ever decide to use this tool for one of the compare and contrast essay topics, here is what it would look like:

Firstly, simply draw two or more circles (depending on the number of objects you’re comparing). Secondly, write down things they have in common inside the intersection of these circles leaving the differences on the outside.

Let’s see how students can use this approach to crafting a compare and contrast essay outline.

Topic: Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy

Main body paragraph #1: They were both presidents.

  • Lincoln was the 16th, while Kennedy – the 35th.
  • Lincoln served for five years, and Kennedy for three years.

Paragraph #2: They were both assassinated on Friday (share the story and background of each of these cases).

  • Kennedy was killed on the 23rd of November, 1963, by Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • Lincoln was shot dead on April 15th, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth.

Paragraph #3: They were commemorated by being posted on the US money.

  • Tell about Kennedy’s half-dollar.
  • A five-dollar bill with Abraham Lincoln.

Paragraph #4: Differences.

  • Kennedy was a Democrat, while Lincoln was a Republican.
  • Lincoln fought in the Civil War and signed the Emancipation Proclamation, while Kennedy focused on civil rights, foreign policies, and a space mission.

Finally, let’s see what a block structure approach will look like in practice.

This approach allows the students to compare different objects based on a particular writing pattern. A benefit of using this method lies in the structure and the level of organization of your piece.

Firstly, the author takes the first object and describes it in the first paragraph. Then, he proceeds to describe the second object in the second paragraph. Throughout the process, features or qualities are looked into step by step.

Let’s see what it would look like on the example.

Topic: Cats and dogs: Who makes a better pet?

An introduction.

Paragraph #1: Cats

  • Don’t need their master to walk with them.
  • Take care of their own hygiene.
  • Require minimum training.

Paragraph #2: Dogs

  • Need regular walks with their masters to exercise.
  • Can’t wash themselves.
  • Need the training to maintain proper behavior.

These are the three main methods used to craft a compare and contrast essay. Just choose the one that you feel most comfortable using and move on to the actual writing part.

Alternatively, you can look for help from a professional custom writing service like  HandMade Writing . It’s your chance to shave hours off your week and end up having an A+ in no time!

How to write a compare and contrast essay

Knowing all the approaches is one thing. Nevertheless, there is much more you need to know about this type of writing if you want to succeed.

As a rule, a compare and contrast essay writing is based on an in-depth analysis of two or more objects and practical findings of them (don’t confuse it with a reflective essay which allows you to focus on your own reflections rather than solid facts). That is why every student must start with finding proper credible sources and reading them carefully. As you read, don’t forget to take notes: your goal is to find whether similarities between the objects outweigh the differences or vice versa. But, of course, this is only true if you were given a choice to either contrast or compare the notions.

Next, take your time to craft a decent outline. Yes, you heard it right: you need it way before you dive into the first draft creation. Wondering how to write an outline? Here are several useful tips.

How to start a compare and contrast essay

The first thing a reader should see in your essay is an attention grabber. What can serve as one?

  • A quote by a famous person.
  • A literary quote.
  • An anecdote.
  • An interesting definition.
  • A little-known fact.
  • An open-end question.
  • A beautifully painted scene.

These are the basic ideas on how to make your audience sit up and listen from the very first moment. Later on, develop this hook into a thesis statement.

Related post: H ow to write an Essay introduction?  | Essay format guide 

Thesis statement

Usually, thesis statement presents your argument to the readers. It invites the audience to dispute your position and encourages a discussion around the topic of your choice.

The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill states that  a thesis statement “tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. It’s also a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.”

The secret of  a good thesis statement is in its length. It shouldn’t be longer than one sentence. Here is a good example:

“If it weren’t for Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom, excellent diplomatic skills, and patriotism, he could have been the last President of the existing and prospering United States of America.”

How to organize the main body paragraphs

We’ve already mentioned briefly what the main body paragraph should really look like. Now, let’s take a step forward and look into each nuance in more detail.

  • An argument. The first sentence of every paragraph of your comparative essay should present the argument that supports the thesis statement. Keep it short and up to the point. And only use the arguments you can actually back up with sufficient evidence.
  • Evidence. Next, provide at least one (but better two or three) pieces of evidence that support your argument. We encourage college students to use only credible sources at this point. Eventually, this will add credibility to your writing and definitely get you a better grade.
  • A conclusion. Finally, summarize the argument and the evidence for it in one sentence. Keep it short and to the point, but don’t underestimate the importance of this part of your paragraph. Obviously, it’s often the only part your audience will remember from the whole piece.

Generally, college students get to choose how many main body paragraphs they want to have in their piece. Besides, the word count plays an important role here: you can’t have six main body paragraphs if you only have 500 words. For the most part, there won’t be enough space for all the essential parts of the paragraph. And you’ll end up crafting an incomprehensive and poorly-structured essay. We’re begging you to be wise not to lose good grades to not thought-through writing process.

In addition, if you aren’t a college student yet, but are going to enter a college or university soon, don’t forget to check out our complete guide to writing a scholarship essay . It’s your chance to stretch a buck by getting the financial help from college!

How to end a compare and contrast essay

Finally, get ready to compose a top-notch closure for the piece. Even though it comes last in your essay, it must be nothing short of perfect.

Studies show that conclusions are your last chance to impress a reader. Overall, the structure of this last section is quite standard.

  • Restate that thesis statement to remind your audience of what your whole article centered around.
  • Go over the pieces of evidence you used along the way.
  • Finish with an open question, a call-to-action, or a challenge for the audience.

See? It’s not as difficult as you might have thought it will be. Still, you have to take your time to polish it and make it count.

Compare&Contrast essay example

Good compare and contrast essay topics.

Well, now that you know everything you need about the process of writing such papers, it seems like you’re simply destined to grab readers’ attention and keep them interested from the start.

And though we would really want to tell you it is really so, it won’t necessarily be true.

Likewise, there is one more secret you can’t miss: a good essay requires an engaging topic.

Certainly, we know that finding excellent good topics sentence might be difficult. Thus, we’ve gathered a short list of thing we think you might find exciting to write about.

However, you can find 127 great compare and contrast essay topics in our recent guide. They’re all unique and interesting. So, don’t hesitate to take a look and pick something to write about.

  • Greek vs. Roman mythology: Differences and similarities.
  • Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: Compare the techniques, history, and professionalism of the players in these two football clubs.
  • Veganism vs. Vegetarianism: Differences in the dieting styles.
  • American English vs. British English.
  • Public vs. private education: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Being a freelancer vs. being self-employed.
  • Christianity in Europe vs. Christianity in Asia in the 21st century.
  • Traditional vs. Unconventional cancer treatments around the globe.
  • Breastfeeding vs. infant formula: Which is a better choice both for the mother and the baby?
  • Car-sharing vs. Hitchhiking: Which would you choose to travel the world?
Related post: Top argumentative essay topics

Transition words

Transition words are your key to the smooth reading experience. Here are two lists of transition words students should use when crafting this type of paper.

Transitions words

Transitions in a comparison essay:

  • In the same way
  • By the same token
  • Coupled with
  • In addition
  • Identically
  • Correspondingly
  • Together with
  • Comparatively

Contrast transitions:

  • Nonetheless
  • In contrast
  • Notwithstanding
  • On the contrary
  • On the other hand
  • At the same time

We tried to cover all the information a student might need when working on a compare and contrast essay. Use this guide step by step for the best results. Don’t fall victim to the idea that you need no assistance in composing this type of academic writing. Of course, it might be tricky. So, it’s in your best interest to use professional assistance.

Problems with writing Your Compare and Contrast Essay? Try our Essay Writer Service!

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5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

A compare and contrast essay selects two or more items that are critically analyzed to demonstrate their differences and similarities. Here is a template for you that provides the general structure:

compare and contrast essay format

A range of example essays is presented below.

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

#1 jean piaget vs lev vygotsky essay.

1480 Words | 5 Pages | 10 References

(Level: University Undergraduate)

paget vs vygotsky essay

Thesis Statement: “This essay will critically examine and compare the developmental theories of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, focusing on their differing views on cognitive development in children and their influence on educational psychology, through an exploration of key concepts such as the role of culture and environment, scaffolding, equilibration, and their overall implications for educational practices..”

#2 Democracy vs Authoritarianism Essay

democracy vs authoritarianism essay

Thesis Statement: “The thesis of this analysis is that, despite the efficiency and control offered by authoritarian regimes, democratic systems, with their emphasis on individual freedoms, participatory governance, and social welfare, present a more balanced and ethically sound approach to governance, better aligned with the ideals of a just and progressive society.”

#3 Apples vs Oranges Essay

1190 Words | 5 Pages | 0 References

(Level: 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade)

apples vs oranges essay

Thesis Statement: “While apples and oranges are both popular and nutritious fruits, they differ significantly in their taste profiles, nutritional benefits, cultural symbolism, and culinary applications.”

#4 Nature vs Nurture Essay

1525 Words | 5 Pages | 11 References

(Level: High School and College)

nature vs nurture essay

Thesis Statement: “The purpose of this essay is to examine and elucidate the complex and interconnected roles of genetic inheritance (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) in shaping human development across various domains such as physical traits, personality, behavior, intelligence, and abilities.”

#5 Dogs vs Cats Essay

1095 Words | 5 Pages | 7 Bibliographic Sources

(Level: 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade)

Thesis Statement: “This essay explores the distinctive characteristics, emotional connections, and lifestyle considerations associated with owning dogs and cats, aiming to illuminate the unique joys and benefits each pet brings to their human companions.”

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

I’ve recorded a full video for you on how to write a compare and contrast essay:

Get the Compare and Contrast Templates with AI Prompts Here

In the video, I outline the steps to writing your essay. Here they are explained below:

1. Essay Planning

First, I recommend using my compare and contrast worksheet, which acts like a Venn Diagram, walking you through the steps of comparing the similarities and differences of the concepts or items you’re comparing.

I recommend selecting 3-5 features that can be compared, as shown in the worksheet:

compare and contrast worksheet

Grab the Worksheet as Part of the Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Pack

2. Writing the Essay

Once you’ve completed the worksheet, you’re ready to start writing. Go systematically through each feature you are comparing and discuss the similarities and differences, then make an evaluative statement after showing your depth of knowledge:

compare and contrast essay template

Get the Rest of the Premium Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Pack (With AI Prompts) Here

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

Compare and contrast thesis statements can either:

  • Remain neutral in an expository tone.
  • Prosecute an argument about which of the items you’re comparing is overall best.

To write an argumentative thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay, try this AI Prompts:

💡 AI Prompt to Generate Ideas I am writing a compare and contrast essay that compares [Concept 1] and [Concept2]. Give me 5 potential single-sentence thesis statements that pass a reasonable judgement.

Ready to Write your Essay?

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Take action! Choose one of the following options to start writing your compare and contrast essay now:

Read Next: Process Essay Examples

compare and contrast examples and definition

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Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Tips and Examples

A compare and contrast essay — what is it? In this type of paper, you compare two different things or ideas , highlighting what is similar between the two, and you also contrast them , highlighting what is different. The two things might be events, people, books, points of view, lifestyles, or things. In a good compare and contrast essay, you don’t only compare the two issues. You also make a meaningful argument about them.

Our specialists will write a custom essay specially for you!

In a Compare & Contrast Essay, You Highlight What Is Similar & What Is Different between Two Issues

Want to learn more? Keep reading this article by Custom Writing experts! It contains the top tips for writing a compare and contrast essay that will win you your professors’ praises.

  • 💡 Choose a Topic
  • ⚖️ Learn How to Compare
  • ☠️ Formulate a Thesis
  • 📑 Make an Outline
  • 😸 Essay Examples

🔗 References

💡 choose a compare & contrast essay topic.

Sometimes the assignment gives you the freedom to choose a topic at your pleasure. In this case, you may be bewildered by what to compare. Almost anything can be contrasted, but few comparisons can raise a vivid interest. Just sit for a 15-20 minute brainstorming session using a compare and contrast essay topic generator and you’ll see the true variety of options to talk about.

An intriguing topic makes the writing process more comfortable, not to mention its readability. To choose a successful title, read the next tips.

  • Avoid comparing apparently different things. Everybody knows that good and evil are different. Notably, this refers to protagonists in literature.
  • Also, try not to contrapose inherently similar objects. You may not find enough information to develop the main body.
  • The best choice is to compare seemingly different but actually similar things or vice versa.
  • Choose an inspiring topic that you are familiar with.
  • Will you find enough information to support your thesis statement?

To clarify the pieces of advice mentioned above, read the following compare and contrast essay ideas .

  • Master’s Degree vs. Ph.D.
  • Eastern vs. Western cultures
  • Homeschooling vs. traditional education
  • SAT vs. TOEFL
  • Research paper vs. essay
  • Camping in the mountains vs. seaside resort
  • Childhood vs. adolescence
  • Online vs. offline commerce
  • Horror vs. romantic movies
  • Science fiction vs. historical novels
  • Online dating vs. real-life dating
  • Regular vs. 3D movies
  • Gas cars vs. electric cars
  • Extroverts vs. introverts
  • Workplace violence vs. school violence
  • The Bible vs. the Torah
  • Yoga vs. Pilates
  • Eating at home vs. eating out
  • Vacationing on the Atlantic Ocean
  • Comedy vs. horror movies
  • Living in the city vs. the country
  • Similarities and differences of Coca-Cola and Pepsi .
  • Compare and contrast Roman Republic and Classical Athens Societies .
  • Find the similar features in the Kahlo’s Two Fridas and Younan’s Untitled artworks.
  • Compare the abilities of human vs machine memory
  • The Great Gatsby book vs movie : comparison and contrast.
  • The difference between bloggers and journalists .
  • Discuss the similar features of Hayden’s and Roethke’s poems .
  • Compare and contrast the characters of Beowulf and Hamlet .
  • Find the similarities and differences between the U.S. and Swiss healthcare system .
  • Describe the resembling features in The Diary of Anne Frank and The Nation Behind the Diary .
  • Compare Poe’s use of symbols in The Masque of the Red Death and The Raven .
  • Note the similarities and differences of the tragedies Othello and Antigone .
  • Analyze the role of women in Oedipus Rex and Death of a Salesman .
  • Compare two successful entrepreneurs: Bill Gates and Carlo Slim Helu.
  • Contrast the father-daughter relationships in Pride and Prejudice and Emma .
  • Describe and contrast the settings of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Great Gatsby .
  • Compare how the theme of madness is described in Barker’s Regeneration & Plath’s The Bell Jar .
  • Analyze and compare poetry of Romantic and Victorian periods .
  • Difference between qualitative and quantitative research .

⚖️ Learn How to Contrast and Compare

After you’ve chosen the issues for your compare and contrast essay, you need to make sure they can be discussed in a meaningful way. A mere possibility to compare is not enough. The comparison should be interesting for the readers.

Just in 1 hour! We will write you a plagiarism-free paper in hardly more than 1 hour

For example, your task is to compare and contrast the Vegan diet and the Paleo Diet . What do you know about these diets? What is interesting about their similarities and differences? In other words: What specific similarities and differences can you pick out about these two diets that will enable you to understand what makes them alike and what makes them different?

You will have to make a list of every similarity and difference you can think of between the two things/ideas to get the full picture. You can organize these into categorized lists, but then you have to go through each list to separate what is similar from what is not.

However, there is a better way: The Learning Center at UNC-Chapel Hill suggests the use of a Venn Diagram to aid you in determining what the two things or ideas have in common and what is completely distinct about each of them

This simple diagram will make it easy to find the differences and similarities between the two things that make up the essay’s topic. Just fill them in the diagram and then choose the top similarities and the top differences.

Paleo vs. Vegan.

With these similarities and differences, you may choose a thesis for your essay that will make it possible for you to get your argument effectively across.

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☠️ Formulate a Thesis for Your Compare & Contrast Essay

The whole objective of this paper type is to compare and contrast two different aspects of a topic. Sometimes a topic is assigned, and sometimes you choose your own. Either way, you will need to decide on your thesis .

The best part of all is that you have your compare and contrast thesis statement in the bag because you already have your similarities and differences all mapped out and have chosen the best of them. Perhaps your essay can explain why people who choose one of these two diets hate the other diet and how this animosity is not necessary.

The questions below will help you formulate a thesis statement for your compare and contrast essay.

Here is an example of a compare and contrast thesis statement:

Both Paleo and Vegan diets have health benefits, but the ideal choice will depend on a person’s level of health, their desired results, and their personal philosophy on harming animals and the earth.

If coming up with a statement is still difficult, use a compare and contrast thesis generator to speed things up and move to writing the main body of an essay.

Get an originally-written paper according to your instructions!

📑 Learn How to Outline Your Compare & Contrast Essay

There are two main methods you can use when making your compare and contrast essay outline . Each of them helps you convey the similarities and differences between your two ideas.

  • The Point-by-Point Method
  • The Block Method

Point-by-Point Comparison

The point-by-point method implies that each of the body paragraphs compares the issues A and B by one parameter. The outline of your compare & contrast essay body would look like this:

  • Parameter 1: Discuss A
  • Parameter 1: Discuss B
  • Compare A and B by the parameter 1
  • Parameter 2: Discuss A
  • Parameter 2: Discuss B
  • Compare A and B by the parameter 2

Now let’s take a look at a compare and contrast essay outline done point by point. Note that we use the topic discussed in the above sections.

Compare & Contrast Essay Outline: Point-by-Point Method

Vegan diet vs. paleo diet.

Introduction:

  • General information
  • Specific topic
  • Thesis statement: Both Paleo and Vegan diets have health benefits, but the ideal choice will depend on a person’s level of health, their desired results, and their personal philosophy on harming animals and the earth.

Paragraph 1: A person’s level of health will determine which diet is the best choice.

This paragraph will compare and contrast the Paleo and Vegan diets based on potential health issues a person might have, such as a specific disease or food allergies.

Paragraph 2: A person’s desired results will have an effect on which diet they choose.

This paragraph will compare and contrast the Paleo and Vegan diets based on why a person would choose the diet and the desired results, i.e., better health and weight loss.

Paragraph 3: A person’s personal philosophy on animals and the earth will factor into their decision on which diet to choose.

This paragraph will compare and contrast the Paleo and Vegan Diets based on a person’s personal philosophy regarding harming animals and which diet is better for the overall environment and the planet’s health.

Conclusion:

  • Summary of the main points
  • Evaluation of the thesis
  • Why this is significant

Block Comparison

Using the block method, you first present all the parameters of A, and then compare them to the parameters of B. The outline of a compare & contrast essay body would look like this:

  • Parameter 3: Discuss A
  • Parameter 1: Discuss B (in relation to A)
  • Parameter 2: Discuss B (in relation to A)
  • Parameter 3: Discuss B (in relation to A)

Compare & Contrast Essay Outline: Block Method

Introduction

Paragraphs 1-3: What makes the Paleo diet a good/bad choice?

Paragraphs 3-6: What makes the Vegan diet a good/bad choice?

😸 Examples of Compare and Contrast Essays

Still don’t feel confident about writing a compare and contrast paper? You can also check out two great essay examples below.

Example #1: In-class Education vs. Online Education

The quarantine measures caused by the coronavirus pandemic enhanced the shift towards online education, applying modern Internet-based technologies and social media. The majority of people had a chance to experience online education and compare it to the standard face-to-face mode in brick-and-mortar learning institutions. Online universities provide an instant exchange of information that students can approach everywhere and every time they want. In contrast, traditional classes provide remarkable experience through classroom activities. Although online learning is evolving rapidly, in-class learning is still more effective and should be prioritized.

Example #2: Capitalism and Socialism

The world has seen many systems regulating socio-economic relationships between people, but the one that remains dominant is capitalism, with its main alternative being socialism. They mainly differ on the principles of ownership, although the implications are also significant enough to call the two each other’s opposites. Throughout centuries, capitalism has been criticized for its vices, including poor treatment of workers, inequality, and irrationality, leading to global warming and financial crises. Meanwhile, socialism has been positioned as a viable alternative capable of resolving those issues. Considering that most of the problems associated with capitalism persist, socialism does seem a more humanistic system. This paper will contrast the two on such aspects as equality, the basis, and rationality.

But wait, there’s more! Below, we’ve gathered our best compare and contrast essay examples. Check them out to get more ideas for your paper.

  • Cache Memory and Virtual Memory: Compare-Contrast
  • Oedipus Rex and Hamlet: Compare and Contrast
  • Compare and Contrast: Online Shopping vs. Traditional Shopping
  • Compare and Contrast the Watergate and the Iran-Contra Scandals
  • The Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri: Compare and Contrast
  • Shopping Apps Compare and Contrast
  • “Odyssey” and “Troy”: Compare and Contrast
  • Urban Versus Rural Areas: Compare and Contrast
  • The Phaedrus and The Tempest: Compare & Contrast
  • Slave Narratives and F. Douglass: Compare & Contrast

✏️ Compare & Contrast Essay FAQ

The definition of a compare and contrast essay is plain to see its name. It is a piece of writing that compares two or more objects to establish their similarities and differences. Some college assignments require only one part, i.e., describing the common or contrasting features.

You can start with a hook, an intriguing question, or an unobvious fact. Then you should introduce the compared objects and provide their background. A strong introduction culminates with a good thesis statement that overviews the entire essay.

A good thesis for almost any essay type creates an argument. Thus, the easiest way to write a thesis for a compare and contrast essay is to define whether the differences outweigh the similarities of the compared phenomena or vice versa.

The conclusion paragraph summarizes the common and diverging features. It leads the reader to a learning point that is focused on your thesis statement. The good idea is to rephrase the thesis in the last sentence of the conclusion.

  • Comparing and Contrasting – UNC Writing Center
  • Comparing and Contrasting | Berkeley Learning Center
  • How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay | Stanford
  • Compare/Contrast Papers (University of Washington)
  • How to Write a Comparative Analysis (Harvard)
  • Comparative Analysis Research Papers – Academia.edu
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Examples

Comparative Analysis Essay

Comparative analysis essay generator.

how do you start a compare and contrast essay

In school, we are asked to write about different forms of essay. It can be descriptive essay , comparative literature essay , experience essay and more. Some essays would allow you to compare and contrast two different things, terms, figures, process and the like. Some things have crucial differences, while others really have something in common. Sometimes, we are faced with surprisingly unrelated similarities and differences which makes it difficult for us to begin with the topic. We may feel confused and often ask ourselves about how do we start constructing a paper. In this article, you will know what a comparative analysis essay is all about and how to write one.

10+ Comparative Analysis Essay Examples

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8. Basic Comparative Analysis Essay

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10. Comparative Analysis Essay Writing

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11. Student Comparative Analysis Essay

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What is a Comparative Analysis Essay?

A comparative analysis essay is a type of essay that involves comparing and contrasting two things. This is a higher level of analysis in an essay. In this essay, you may be asked to compare or contrast different positions with regards to a particular issue, theories, figures, events or texts in literature. This assumes to consider both the similarities and differences of what you have compared and contrasted.

When comparing and contrasting two things, make sure that you can come up with the basis for comparison. Once you are able to know the basis for comparison, you should be bale to think critically between the things that you are comparing.

How to Conduct a Good Comparative Analysis Essay?

You might have brilliant ideas about your essay , but you lack knowledge about what does comparative mean. The first thing you should do is research about your topic and know about the principle of compare and contrast. Below are some tips on how to conduct a comparative analysis essay.

Identify your basis of comparison

First on the list is to develop a basis for the comparison. It is usually that the question that will provide the basis of comparison, but there are are times that the author has to develop one. For example, a question may ask you to compare between the philosophical principles of Immanuel Kant and John Locke. This already has a very clear objective. You don’t to look for something else.

Plan for the content of your essay

You should be able to identify the features of your essay in which it mainly involves comparing and contrasting. List down the similarities and differences of two different subjects. This will help you develop an initial plan for your comparative essay . After listing, evaluate it and make sure that it is only the main points are considered in your essay.

Come up with a thesis

Every essay needs a good thesis statement that enables the author to easily identify which part he or she currently is during the writing process. Before you finalize your thesis statement, assess if the your list has more similarities than differences. Your thesis statement reflects how the subjects written in your list share more of the similarities than the differences or vice versa.

Develop a structure for your essay

All of the essays have a specific structure to follow. Every comparative essay must be written in an organized way just like any essay should be. In that way, it would be easier to the readers to understand.

What are the methods to be used in making a comparative analysis essay?

You may use either of the three methods: the alternating method, mixed paragraphs method or the block method. The alternating method makes the entire aspect of comparison contained only in one paragraph. The mixed paragraphs method devotes a single paragraph in providing for an explanation about the way subjects are being compared. The block method is the easiest method, yet the dangerous one. This divides the essay into two parts in which the first part is devoted into one subject and the second part is devoted to another subject.

When to use alternating method, mixed paragraphs method and block method?

You are going to use the alternating method when you are going to provide cases where detailed comparison is needed. Use mixed paragraphs method when you have to deal with long comparative analysis essay. Use block method when you are short essays and simple subjects.

IMAGES

  1. How To Write A Compare And Contrast Essay

    how do you start a compare and contrast essay

  2. Expert Tips on How To Write a Compare and Contrast Essay Successfully

    how do you start a compare and contrast essay

  3. How to Write a Compare & Contrast Essay

    how do you start a compare and contrast essay

  4. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay: Outline, Body, and Conclusion

    how do you start a compare and contrast essay

  5. Essential Points of Compare and Contrast Essay

    how do you start a compare and contrast essay

  6. How to write a Compare and Contrast Essay?

    how do you start a compare and contrast essay

VIDEO

  1. Compare and Contrast Essay in Urdu/ Hindi

  2. Week 2: Compare OR Contrast Essay

  3. Compare Contrast Essay Insight

  4. 17- Compare and Contrast Essay nasıl yazılır? / How to write a Compare or Contrast Essay/ Türkçe

  5. Comparison and Contrast Essay|| How to Write || BBS 1st Year English || Patterns for college writing

  6. How to use Ai to write essays (no cheating) #texteroai

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay (with Pictures)

    4. Outline your body paragraphs based on point-by-point comparison. This is the more common method used in the comparison and contrast essay. [6] You can write a paragraph about each characteristic of both locations, comparing the locations in the same paragraph.

  2. Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

    Making effective comparisons. As the name suggests, comparing and contrasting is about identifying both similarities and differences. You might focus on contrasting quite different subjects or comparing subjects with a lot in common—but there must be some grounds for comparison in the first place. For example, you might contrast French ...

  3. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

    1. Begin by Brainstorming With a Venn Diagram. The best compare and contrast essays demonstrate a high level of analysis. This means you will need to brainstorm before you begin writing. A Venn diagram is a great visual tool for brainstorming compare and contrast essay topics.

  4. Comparing and Contrasting

    Making a Venn diagram or a chart can help you quickly and efficiently compare and contrast two or more things or ideas. To make a Venn diagram, simply draw some overlapping circles, one circle for each item you're considering. In the central area where they overlap, list the traits the two items have in common.

  5. Comparing and Contrasting: A Guide to Improve Your Essays

    An academic compare and contrast essay looks at two or more subjects, ideas, people, or objects, compares their likeness, and contrasts their differences. It's an informative essay that provides insights on what is similar and different between the two items. Depending on the essay's instructions, you can focus solely on comparing or ...

  6. Tips for Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

    Summarize the main similarities and differences you have identified. Make a point regarding the relationship between your subjects. 4. Things to Remember. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when writing your compare and contrast essay: Ensure you are comparing or contrasting the same criteria between each subject.

  7. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

    In this activity, students will draft three paragraphs for a compare-and-contrast essay using the point-by-point structure. To do this, they will use the traditional five-paragraph essay structure as follows: Paragraph 1: Introduction. Paragraphs 2, 3, & 4: Body Paragraphs. Paragraph 5: Conclusion.

  8. 10.7 Comparison and Contrast

    The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both and the reason for doing so. The thesis could lean more toward comparing, contrasting, or both. Remember, the point of comparing and contrasting is to provide useful knowledge to the reader.

  9. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Comparing & Contrasting

    Use Clear Transitions. Transitions are important in compare and contrast essays, where you will be moving frequently between different topics or perspectives. Examples of transitions and phrases for comparisons: as well, similar to, consistent with, likewise, too. Examples of transitions and phrases for contrasts: on the other hand, however ...

  10. Compare & Contrast Essays

    To compare is to examine how things are similar, while to contrast is to see how they differ. A compare and contrast essay therefore looks at the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences. This essay type is common at university, where lecturers frequently test your understanding by asking you to compare and contrast two theories, two methods, two historical periods, two ...

  11. How to Start a Compare and Contrast Essay: Build the Framework

    The Introduction. The introduction should entice readers into reading your essay, so make sure you start out strong. You may begin by mentioning one interesting fact about one of the subjects, or by asking a question that will be answered later in the paper. An introduction should describe what the compare and contrast essay is about, so if you ...

  12. 4.1: Introduction to Comparison and Contrast Essay

    Key Elements of the Compare and Contrast: The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. Comparison and contrast is simply telling how two things are alike or different. The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be ...

  13. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

    The first things to focus on is what is absolutely essential to the argument you're going to make. These points will need to be included no matter what. If that alone does not fill up your essay, however, then it's time to pull out a point system. Give things a score from one to five (or ten, if you've got a lot of topics and need the ...

  14. What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay? Simple Examples To Guide You

    A compare and contrast essay is a type of analytical essay that explores the similarities and differences between two subjects. We guide you through one with some examples.

  15. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay?

    Firstly, simply draw two or more circles (depending on the number of objects you're comparing). Secondly, write down things they have in common inside the intersection of these circles leaving the differences on the outside. Let's see how students can use this approach to crafting a compare and contrast essay outline.

  16. Compare & Contrast Assignments

    If you are using the block method, organize your paragraph in the following way: Start with a Topic Sentence: Your first sentence should introduce both topics to your reader and state the main point of the paragraph. Compare/Contrast by Topic: Your paragraph will discuss all the points for one topic first, then do the same for the other topic ...

  17. 5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

    Here they are explained below: 1. Essay Planning. First, I recommend using my compare and contrast worksheet, which acts like a Venn Diagram, walking you through the steps of comparing the similarities and differences of the concepts or items you're comparing. I recommend selecting 3-5 features that can be compared, as shown in the worksheet:

  18. Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Tips and Examples

    Point-by-Point Comparison. The point-by-point method implies that each of the body paragraphs compares the issues A and B by one parameter. The outline of your compare & contrast essay body would look like this: Example: Part 1: Parameter 1: Discuss A.

  19. PDF Comparing and Contrasting

    Recognizing comparison/contrast in assignments Some assignments use words—like compare, contrast, similarities, and differences—that make it easy for you to see that they are asking you to compare and/or contrast. Here are a few hypothetical examples: Compare and contrast Frye's and Bartky's accounts of oppression.

  20. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

    The Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement: Prework. If you're going to write a strong thesis, you'll want to make sure you know your approach before going in. Here are some pro tips to help you get started. Pro tip #1: Pick topics that interest you. It's way easier to write about something you like or care about.

  21. Comparative Analysis Essay

    What is a Comparative Analysis Essay? A comparative analysis essay is a type of essay that involves comparing and contrasting two things. This is a higher level of analysis in an essay. In this essay, you may be asked to compare or contrast different positions with regards to a particular issue, theories, figures, events or texts in literature.

  22. How To Write a Compare-And-Contrast Essay?

    Tips for Writing Compare-And-Contrast Essays. Now that you understand the basics of a compare-and-contrast essay, let's examine some strategies that can help elevate your writing and make it stand out. 1. Choose Strong Topics. No matter how good your writing may be, it will do little good if you have nothing to write about.

  23. Answered: Compare and contrast how Amazon and…

    Compare and contrast how Amazon and Temu addresses competitive advantages. Why has Amazon become the market leader in so many different areas? Compare and contrast how Amazon and Temu addresses competitive advantages. Why has Amazon become the market leader in so many different areas? Practical Management Science. 6th Edition. ISBN: 9781337406659.