How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay on Any Topic

While studying at high school, college, or university, students must deal with writing different types of essays. A narrative essay is considered as one of the easiest to write and usually a student doesn’t get to ask how to write it. However, when it comes to writing a compare and contrast essay, each of you feel uncomfortable not knowing what to do with this type of paper.

how to write a compare and contrast essay

In the process of study or research, often you have to write compare and contrast essays. For example, you need to compare and contrast two historical figures, two political theories, two social trends, two scientific processes, and so on. The classical structure of a compare and contrast paper for college contains a comparison of several objects. The main thing that bothers students when they get an assignment is how to write a compare and contrast essay.

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

First of all, we need to find out what is a compare and contrast essay. The goal of a compare and contrast essay is to identify and compare similarities and differences between two objects. There are various ways of comparative analysis. However, let us dwell on the key points that should be included in the compare and contrast essay.

  • Context. Define the context against which you will conduct a comparative analysis. In other words, describe the problem, theory, or idea containing objects that you need to compare. For example, if you are analyzing two similar legal norms, it is advisable to touch on the problems of the field of law in which they are applied. For greater credibility, your own conclusions should not lie in the basis, but a reference to authoritative sources. A comparative analysis outside the context will deprive you of the foundation on which you will build your arguments in the process of comparing the selected objects.
  • Basis for comparison. In the study, you need to justify the reason why you are comparing the selected objects. For example, you decided to compare what is more useful for a healthy diet: cabbage or beets. Readers should be shown the logic that guided you when selecting objects for comparison. And, for example, explain why you do not compare the nutritional benefits of carrots and cucumber. This is necessary for the reader to see that your choice is logical and conscious. Indicate the reasons of your choice.
  • Arguments. You write a comparative analysis, so it is logical to operate with facts that can and should be compared when comparing two objects. Your statements are designed to show how objects relate to each other. Do these objects supplement and enrich each other? Do they contradict, dispute, or exclude each other? The purpose of the arguments put forward is to show the ratio of the two objects. Your facts are built on the basis of the context of the idea (problems, theories) from which you have identified the compared objects. Showing the ratio of objects, you can use the following words: while, opposite, besides, complementing, excluding, etc.
  • Methods of comparative analysis. Writing the introductory part of the work: the context, reasons for comparison, and arguments determine how you will compare objects. There are three methods for this:
    A) First set out all the pros and cons of the object X, then do the same for the object Y.
    B) Sequentially compare the similar elements of the objects X and Y.
    C) Compare X and Y, placing more emphasis on one of the objects. This method is recommended in case X and Y can not be fully compared. Thus, the object X can act as a tool to determine if the object Y corresponds to the arguments you put forward.
  • The relationship of the compared objects to the arguments. The work will look like a singular whole if you show the relationship between the objects and the key arguments. Without such a connection, the reader will find it difficult to see how the next part of the object comparison correlates with the arguments.

When dealing with comparing and contrasting, it is necessary to define what comparison criteria you are using.

Steps for Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

  • Carefully consider two or more objects that you are asked to write about. You can’t write a strong compare and contrast essay without reading through what you are required to do. Moreover, to create a good essay, you should find good sources. Make notes while working with them. Such preparatory work can give you a good opportunity to write a decent paper.
  • Make a list of key similarities and differences in objects. After you have read everything that you have found, make lists of these similarities and differences in order to make your writing process easier. Your notes from the first step may help you. Depending on how your thoughts are organized, you can highlight several ideas and you can make a list of things that separate objects you are considering. On this stage, simply write everything that comes to your mind.
  • Find the most important points and develop them into your main argument. When you are fully satisfied with your list, you are almost ready to start your writing. Think what can lead to the most convincing essay in your opinion. Choose elements which are central for both objects that you are considering. Maybe, some of these elements may serve as a basis for your essay.
  • Any text, whether it’s a thesis, research paper, article, story, or essay, should have a clear structure. From many other student papers, the essay differs in freedom of creativity. Alas, we all know: the more freedom, the more responsibility must be shouldered. Receiving this very freedom, you must think over the structure of the future essay by yourself. The structure largely depends on the goals, the form, the type, the amount of work. The structure can be easily thought through. But it’s better to take a sheet of paper and sketch out a rough plan. The plan is the “skeleton” of the text, to which you will subsequently build up the “flesh.” The plan is needed for any text, and an essay needs it first.
  • Write a compare and contrast essay outline. Your plan will make your essay flow highlighting the main points that you want to mention. Writing an outline is an important step if you want to get a high grade for your essay. Before you start working on the text, check whether the theses are arranged in a logical sequence and whether the evidence is convincing enough.
  • By “introduction” and “conclusion” we mean the first and last paragraphs. You should not treat these elements of the text formally. The first paragraph or the first part of the text introduces the reader into the course of the case, and brings him or her to the problem, which is devoted to the essay. You do not need a long introduction – one or two paragraphs will be enough. How to start a compare and contrast introduction? You should start with an introduction where the main idea of your argument is presented, and it will take the form as follows: “I think that these two texts/objects/people have similarities and differences …”
  • It is better to start writing from the main part of your essay. The introduction and conclusion are easier to complete after you have made sure that the basis of your essay is logical and understandable to the reader. The main part requires the most attention, especially when drawing up a plan. Once you have an outline, essay writing should mainly present your points with evidence from the material that you have read. It is the main process if you want to make your audience understand and take your arguments. For compare and contrast essays which have more opportunities to succeed, you need to find enough compare and contrast essay examples.
  • Depending on the depth of your knowledge, you can also consider the opportunity to get outside critics to support your points. Your teacher will tell you if you need to consider this opportunity. You should write the body of your essay which will be divided into four paragraphs. Your can split them into two paragraphs that compare two objects and two paragraphs that contrast them. Use those arguments that will work best for your paper. It is important that the main part be built according to the laws of logic.
  • Finally, write the compare and contrast conclusion. Sum up everything that you have mentioned in your essay. Don’t state any new information in the conclusion. Keep in mind that your conclusion should show the completeness of the whole essay. In a conclusion, as a rule, you should summarize everything that was said in the essay. The author sums up the results together with the reader. It is important that the conclusions are not contrived and do not arise out of nowhere. In the conclusion, you should write only what the reader should come to, having familiarized himself/herself with the main part of your work.
  • When you think that your essay is done, make sure that you read it through checking mistakes both in the content and in the format. No doubt that your teacher will evaluate your paper and it should not have any mistakes. Maybe it will be particularly helpful to get another pair of eyes – you can ask your parents or friends to look at your arguments and make sure that they are appropriate. After that, you have a compare and contrast essay that is absolutely ready!

Compare and Contrast Paper Example

We have a certain number of compare and contrast examples on our site and the following one is a good representative of them. We try our best to make a good impression on our customers – that’s why we hire only professional writers who write high-quality papers like the essay presented below. It is important to read through some compare and contrast essay samples before you start your own writing. First of all, read through the samples and then you will understand how to deal with your paper as a professional writer. The only thing that you should know about our samples is that you can’t present them as your own papers.

Click the images to see their full size.

how to start a compare and contrast introduction

compare and contrast essay outline

compare and contrast essay conclusion

Compare and Contrast Essay Tips

  • Don’t neglect going to the library. Librarians not only can give you books and other sources to use, but also can suggest topics to work with.
  • Start your research of two (or more) compared issues before you list their qualities, making sure the information is relevant and appropriate.
  • Pay attention to details while writing a compare and contrast essay. Do your best to not provide generalizations and everyday sort of knowledge.
  • Stick to your chosen approach, as the success of the whole paper depends on it and your professor will definitely pay attention to it.
  • Consider your audience, making sure your compare and contrast essay topic is interesting to them.
  • Be certain that the result of your compare and contrast essay will have value for your readers and you personally. If you can’t guarantee this, change your arguments or paper topic.
  • Start writing your paper by specifying all the items you are going to discuss and compare.
  • Paragraphs should be linked together in a logical manner.

How to Write a Comparative Analysis of Two Pieces of Writing

The main tasks that are often encountered during the educational process is the comparative analysis of two pieces of writing (texts). The ability to compare and analyze is manifested as the main quality that helps humanity throughout all centuries, but the ability to compare and analyze pieces of writing is a way to extract absolutely understandable, accurate, and most importantly, necessary information from what you have read.

  • Read in detail the pieces of text that you are going to analyze, because it has an effect on the correct and accurate result. It is more likely that these texts will be something classic, and describing the brute force or lack of moral problems can be multi-faceted. As an option, these texts can relate to something modern, dynamic, and youthful. The choice of works should be done by you, as you should like texts you are comparing.
  • Begin to analyze the books with a description of the main themes. Try to describe the global problems addressed by the author or authors, and reveal the main ideas. At the same time, be cautious: try to make your reasons logical, and state your thoughts one by one, without jumping from one thought to another.
  • It is worth paying special attention to the subtleties of the genre of two texts. In English literature, there are a lot of examples that you can use for your compare and contrast essay. In addition, it is absolutely not superfluous to describe the linguistic and moral highlights of the narrative, which the author or authors clearly and characteristically use.
  • Next, go to the description of the artistic images given in the texts – this is one of the parts of the comparative analysis, and requires tangible reasoning. Literature is filled with habits and manners of people which are simple and generally accepted according to the types of people that society observes to this day, and sometimes there are unconventional and unique characters. Therefore, try to describe your heroes in as much detail as possible.
  • Go to the plots of the books, touch upon their conflicts, and draw conclusions and decisions to which the author/authors or their characters came, and from whom the problematic questions arise. It is not superfluous to add a personal opinion on this issue.
  • Under the final section of your comparative analysis, indicate the importance and weight of the works in the authors’ careers, and about the contribution they made to world literature. Also, insert important details from the biography of the author or authors, and interesting moments of their lives and career.
  • Make sure that the text has no grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors, checking it in standard programs. Correct all the mistakes. If necessary, make the changes – you should carefully check each paragraph. Try to achieve integrity and harmony of the general narrative.

There are two situations when choosing an essay topic:

  • The topic is set.
  • The choice of the topic is not limited.

You can select the topic of the essay according to the direction given by the instructor without special difficulties if you follow a system of simple rules:

  • Think what essay is expected from you.
  • Make a general overview of the topic.
  • Make an in-depth analysis of the topic.
  • Make sure that the topic is concrete enough.
  • If the topic is too general, you should find a more concrete one.

In cases when the essay implies a free topic, then the student has many more opportunities. Someone may think that this only complicates the task; in fact, the student simply can choose the topic of the essay that is interesting to him or her. This freedom of choice can make the essay more meaningful and profound.

Let’s look at each stage of the essay topic selection in more detail, if the topic is free. You need to start with the process of thinking and stating the purpose of the essay. Concentrate on what your essay is about. The purpose of writing an essay can be based on the following:

  • Convince people of what you believe.
  • Explain how something works.
  • Tell about a person, a place, a thing, or an idea.
  • Something else.

Whichever topic you choose, it should meet the goal. The next step is to compile a list of potential essay topics. For this, it is recommended to write on a piece of paper or to print for yourself a few interesting topics. Regardless of the purpose of the essay, a list of topics will be attached to it. At the final stage of selecting an essay topic, analyze the compiled list and select the topic to which you can write the most unique thoughts and suggest interesting ideas.

How to Choose a Topic for Your Essay

An essay is a standard writing activity for students, which is designed to determine how much the student has figured out in the subject. However, students often don’t know what to do when it is necessary to choose a topic on their own.

  • Write about the style of two different authors, and compare and contrast them. That is, you will not write about two particular works, but about the authors’ creativity in general. Such a choice of topic will significantly increase the volume of the essay, if required.
  • Expose, compare, and contrast the characters. The choice of the group of characters is advantageous because you do not have to disassemble the entire book in detail – only a few episodes that you need are enough to reveal the characters. Moreover, such an essay will turn out to be very psychological – if you can correctly describe the nature of the characters and the idea that the author emphasizes with their help, then a high grade is provided.
  • Do not take problematic issues as a topic. Thus, you risk greatly to squeeze the volume of the text, after all, answering the question, you can not develop the thought further. On the contrary, if you take a topic that is too wide, then you will need thorough knowledge of the whole book, for example, and a detailed analysis of all important episodes, otherwise you will have to explain why you ignored this or that scene.
  • If you write an essay for literature, check textbooks that can be helpful. In them, at least a superficial analysis of the novel must necessarily be present and the basic thoughts that the author wanted to convey to the reader. Already on the basis of the read text, you can choose one of the smaller, intermediate topics, and write an essay on it. Also, be sure to check whether there is in the textbook, suggested topics for essays – in that case it is enough to take one of the proposed ones.
  • Read through other essays. This method is the easiest and is perhaps dishonest, but has the right to exist. Of course, downloading ready-made versions and copying them verbatim is not the best way, so just try to look through the essays. You will see a lot of topics that you yourself would not have guessed, and read how they were disassembled by other authors. Based on this, writing your own version of the essay will be much easier.

Mistakes While Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

As you know, any written work, no matter whether it is a compare and contrast essay or any other type, should have a certain structure and correspond to certain rules of writing. However, many authors, not fully understanding the specific features of a particular type of essay, make mistakes in their writing.

So, in the process of writing compare and contrast essays, authors can face all kinds of difficulties and mistakes. The first error is a bad check. It is not necessary to be limited to revising only spelling. It is better to read and analyze by ear a ready-made text and, if necessary, edit it. This will help to avoid ambiguous or even ridiculous expressions and tautologies. Tentative forewords are often the cause of a poorly written essay, as it becomes uninteresting. And the absence of examples to statements makes it insipid and gray.

Verbosity when writing a compare and contrast essay does not lead to anything good. The fact is that the number of words in this genre of essay is limited. Therefore, you need to manage the optimal volume carefully. Often you have to give up various ideas or desired details. After all, such things essentially distract the reader, knocking him or her off a given topic.

The mistakes can be attributed to the use of long phrases. Not always the length of the sentence determines its quality. This is a very common misconception. Such phrases do not always prove the genius of the author. In contrast, short, well-formulated sentences are more appreciated by readers. Much better if the author alternates short phrases with longer ones. In this case, it is desirable to carefully read the entire text. If there is a feeling that when you read it, it catches your breath, you should break the text into smaller structural units. The text will be easier and more enjoyable to read.

Do not overload essays with facts, concepts, or unusual terms. This is completely useless. It is not necessary to demonstrate your knowledge of foreign languages or the number of books read. When you compose your compare and contrast essay, you have to be simpler. Otherwise, abstruse words simply frighten the reader. Adhering to the above recommendations, you can compose an essay that will be enjoyable, interesting, and most importantly, correct.

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