Writing the Comparison and Contrast Essay What is the purpose of comparison and contrast?



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Writing the Comparison and Contrast Essay

What is the purpose of comparison and contrast?

  • Contrasts draw out differences between two subjects.
  • Comparisons outline both similarities and differences between two subjects.
  • Demonstrates how one subject is superior in some way to the other.
  • Demonstrates how two subjects, which appear dissimilar, are actually similar.
  • Instead of judgmental, may be informational.

How do I prepare to write a comparison and contrast essay?

  • Brainstorm everything about two subjects.
  • Identify points that are relevant to both subjects.
  • Establish a dominant idea after examining points of similarity and difference. This is the basis of the comparison/contrast.
  • Select those traits to focus upon based upon the dominant idea.
  • Be sure these traits are subject to the purpose —desired accomplishment.

Writing the Thesis Statement

How do I write a thesis statement for a comparison and contrast essay?

  • Decide to what extent the similarities between subjects will be stressed, and to what extent their differences will be stressed.
  • Create a thesis statement that reflects that decision.

Examples: Weak Thesis Statements

  • They are both somewhat alike and somewhat different.
  • I can see some similarities and some differences too.
  • Both of them involve (only a single similarity, no differences).

Examples: Better Thesis Statements

  • Ralph and Jack have very different leadership styles and motivations which leads to the eventual chaos and anarchy on the island.
  • In order to make a decision between the Honda Civic and the BMW, consider the following criteria: price of the vehicle, average mileage, and price of insurance.

Organizing a Comparison and Contrast Essay

Should I use block or alternating arrangement?

  • Block: Treats all of the elements for each subject separately.
  • Alternating: Treats each element with respect to each subject sequentially.
  • If the comparison is short (a paragraph or two), then the block method is fine.
  • Alternating is usually preferable for longer comparisons; there is a risk that a block essay will sound like two separate essays weakly connected with a transitional paragraph or sentence.

Paragraph Organization --Block--

  • Price
  • Mileage
  • Insurance
  • BMW
  • →→
  • Honda
  • Civic
  • →→
  • 3rd Paragraph

Outline -- Block Method

  • I. Introduction
  • a) Hook
    • b) Background Information
    • c) Thesis
  • II. BMW
    • a) Price
    • b) Mileage
    • c) Insurance

Paragraph Organization --Alternating--

  • Price
  • Mileage
  • Insurance
  • BMW
  • Honda
  • Civic
  • 2nd Paragraph
  • 3rd Paragraph
  • 4th Paragraph

Outline -- Alternating

  • I. Introduction
    • a) Hook
    • b) Background Information
    • c) Thesis
  • II. Price
  • a) BMW
  • b) Honda
  • III. Mileage
  • a) BMW
  • b) Honda
  • IV. Insurance
  • a) BMW
  • b) Honda
  • IV. Conclusion
  • a) Emphasize Major Ties
  • b) So What? Evaluate
  • c) Clincher

What are the rules of thumb with comparison and contrast essays?

  • Be sure to discuss both subjects equally in terms of coverage.
  • Be sure to discuss the same elements for each subject; do not discuss one element for one subject and not do so for the other!
  • Decide either upon block or alternating arrangement; do not mix.
  • Have a clear purpose to achieve in the comparison/contrast.

Using Indicators

Why do I need to use indicators?

  • Good comparison or contrast essays feature the use of indicator words to convey to the reader at any given moment whether a comparison or contrast is being made and the nature of it.

Example Indicators

  • To Compare
    • also
    • as
    • in the same way
    • like
    • likewise
    • similarly
    • comparable
    • equally
    • in addition
  • To Contrast
  • -although
  • -but
  • -even though
  • -however
  • -on the other hand
  • -otherwise
  • -yet
  • -still
  • -conversely
  • -as opposed to
  • -different from
  • -whereas


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