This article covers,
1. What is a Compare and Contrast Essay?
– Definition and Characteristics
2. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay?
– Steps to follow, Tips
What is a Compare and Contrast Essay
A compare and contrast essay is an essay that discusses similarities and differences between two entities. This type of an essay can analyze focus on either similarities or differences, or discuss both similarities and differences. This decision about the content depends on the title of the essay.
A compare and contrast essay does not only aim at discussing the differences and/or similarities between two things. The essay is expected to bring one or both subjects into sharper focus and show that one is better than the other. A compare and contrast essay might also lead to a new way of looking at something.
How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
1. Understand the Title Properly
You should always have a good understanding of the title before start writing an essay. Compare and contrast essays can basically include three types of questions. Some topics may only ask for similarities and others for differences. Some topics may require both compare and contrast. For example,
Compare Islam and Buddhism. – Requires similarities
Contrast Islam and Buddhism. – Requires differences
Compare and contrast Islam and Buddhism. – Requires both similarities and differences
Next step is gathering information. Write down all the characteristics, qualities or attributes of each thing – both similarities and differences. You can use a Venn diagram to easily separate the differences and similarities. After you have written down all the qualities or attributes, select the most important ones out of them.
3. Organization of the Essay
Before you start writing the essay, you should decide on the organization of the essay. There are several ways of organizing a compare and contrast essay.
Subject by Subject
In this type of essay, you begin by describing one subject first. After describing all the characteristics of that subject, you move on to the next subject. For example, imagine you are comparing apples and oranges. You’ll first describe apples in details and discuss all qualities and attributes of them; then you’ll move on to the second subject, oranges.
Point by Point
Instead of discussing the two subjects separately, this structure compares them side by side. In this structure, each paragraph will discuss a main point, and information regarding both subjects.
The second method point by point is more appropriate to decide what is better out of the two options. It is more argumentative and read like a debate. The first method is more appropriate if you are using one subject to understand the other.
4. Writing the Introduction
The introduction should introduce the two subjects or topics that are going to be compared and contrasted. It should also mention what aspects or areas are going to be covered in the essay. You can also specify what you are going to do in the essay – are you going to present only the differences or are you looking at both sides?
Although introduction comes at the beginning of the essay, you don’t have to write first. You can always write the introduction after you have completed the whole essay.
5. Body of the Essay
Since you have already decided the structure of the essay, this won’t be difficult. If you are using a point by point structure, you can compare different aspects of the two subjects separately. If you are using subject by subject, you have to describe different aspects of one subject and then move on to the next subject.
After you have finished writing all the points, you can start the conclusion of the essay. The first thing you have to do is to summarize all the main points in the essay. Then evaluate the information, and arrive at a logical conclusion. For example, if you have found that one subject has more positive qualities than the other, you can conclude that subject is better. However, not all compare and contrast essays may have a similar conclusion. Instead of saying that one thing is better than the other, the writer can present an alternative way of viewing these subjects as well.
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