How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

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The purpose of the compare and contrast essay is to analyze the similarities and differences of two distinct subjects. An ideal compare & contrast essay should point out how the subjects are similar and different. If you’re assigned with this essay type, but you have no idea how to get started, read this step-by-step guide until the end.

Step 1. Find Good Subjects for Your Essay

If you’re not assigned with a topic already, choose two subjects that can be compared and contrasted. The subjects you choose must be different, but their base should be similar so that you can create a meaningful comparison and contrast. Consider the following things when choosing your subjects:

  • You can pick two subjects from the same category but they must have differences to compare and similarities to contrast. 
  • Choose two subjects that appear to be similar but are actually different.

For some ideas, try our essay topic generator.

 

Step 2. Brainstorm Your Subjects and Their Different Aspects

Before you jump straight into your thesis statement, you must brainstorm similarities and differences of your subjects. It will give an idea which points you can include in your essay. One easy way to do this is, create two lists – one for similarities and another for differences. Thus you can analyze which points are the major ones and you should focus on. Some writers also use the Venn diagram to find the differences and logical relationships between the two subjects.

 

Step 3. Write an Impressive Main Argument

Based on your analysis of similarities and differences, make a meaning statement. Consider what the contrasts and comparisons say about your essay topic. You can use it as your main argument of the essay.  

 

Step 4. Pay Attention to Main Points

Similar to your main argument, you must focus on the main points of your essay. It will help you state similarities and differences between your subjects. For example, if you’re comparing and contrasting homemade pizza vs. frozen pizza, you can tell that both are fast food and include cheese, sauce, and crust (ways they are similar). You can also tell that both pizzas often taste vastly different (the ways they are different).

 

Step 5. Determine the Structure of Your Essay

When it comes to the organizational structure of compare and contrast essay, there are several approaches you can take. However, the two structures are quite popular i.e. block and point-by-point structure.

For the block structure, you can compare and contrast all information of one subject first, and then you can follow the same for another subject.  

If you are using point-by-point structure, each similarity of one subject should be followed immediately by the similarity of the other subject. You have to do the same for the differences.

Both structures have their own merits. The former is easier to write whereas the latter is clearer.

Step 6. Write an Outline

Based on the structure you choose, create an outline for your compare and contrast essay. Conventionally, an essay should have an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. See the following format.

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraph 1
  • Body Paragraph 2
  • Body Paragraph 3
  • Conclusion

Introduction

It is the first paragraph of your compare and contrast essay that provides the basic details about the subjects to be contrasted and compared. The paragraph should present your thesis and the direction of your essay. For example, what you are going to talk about and why your readers should care about it.

Body Paragraphs 

These are the meat of your essay. In this section, you need to provide all the details and evidence which support your claim. Each separate body paragraph should present a distinct division of proof. Include five to eight sentences per paragraph.

Conclusion

Your conclusion should wrap up your essay and quickly summarize what you said in your thesis statement. 

 

Step 7. Fill in Supporting Evidence 

As you start to write your essay, back up your statements with evidence. You can mention some research material as well as personal experience to support your claims. For example,  if you are comparing and contrasting the work of two poets or writers, you can include quotes from their work to support your arguments. Make sure any information you include should explain why it matters in the context of your argument.

 

Step 8. Give Your Essay Flow with Transitional Words 

Transition words like moreover, besides, then, too, furthermore give your essay a smooth flow. They help you form a relationship between different statements of your essay. In comparison to words like “likewise”, and “similarly”, words such as “on the other hand”, “nonetheless,” and “whereas” are better in terms of forming a contrast between two subjects.

 

Step 9: Proofreading and Revision

Proofreading and revision are two major aspects of the writing process. Proofreading helps you eliminate different types of errors and provide the final polish to your words. On the other hand, revision enables you to see your writing as readers see it.

You can make use of online spell check and grammar check tools to correct spelling, grammar, and structure issues in your writing. If possible, get someone to cast a fresh pair of eyes on your essay to find mistakes that you might have missed. Since we often have trouble analyzing our own work, we may miss silly mistakes. 

Here are some quick tips for proofreading and revision.

  • Check capitalization and acronyms
  • Check spellings and grammar
  • Read your paper aloud to find all your errors.
  • Check if your thesis statement and topic sentences are clear.
  • Check language for tone and voice.
  • Do a reverse outline

So these are steps to write a well-organized and impressive essay. We hope you will find this guide helpful.


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