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Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay | Tips & Examples

Published on August 6, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

Comparing and contrasting is an important skill in academic writing . It involves taking two or more subjects and analyzing the differences and similarities between them.

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Table of contents

When should i compare and contrast, making effective comparisons, comparing and contrasting as a brainstorming tool, structuring your comparisons, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about comparing and contrasting.

Many assignments will invite you to make comparisons quite explicitly, as in these prompts.

  • Compare the treatment of the theme of beauty in the poetry of William Wordsworth and John Keats.
  • Compare and contrast in-class and distance learning. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

Some other prompts may not directly ask you to compare and contrast, but present you with a topic where comparing and contrasting could be a good approach.

One way to approach this essay might be to contrast the situation before the Great Depression with the situation during it, to highlight how large a difference it made.

Comparing and contrasting is also used in all kinds of academic contexts where it’s not explicitly prompted. For example, a literature review involves comparing and contrasting different studies on your topic, and an argumentative essay may involve weighing up the pros and cons of different arguments.

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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 society before and after the French Revolution; you’d likely find many differences, but there would be a valid basis for comparison. However, if you contrasted pre-revolutionary France with Han-dynasty China, your reader might wonder why you chose to compare these two societies.

This is why it’s important to clarify the point of your comparisons by writing a focused thesis statement . Every element of an essay should serve your central argument in some way. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with any comparisons you make, and be sure to make this clear to the reader.

Comparing and contrasting can be a useful tool to help organize your thoughts before you begin writing any type of academic text. You might use it to compare different theories and approaches you’ve encountered in your preliminary research, for example.

Let’s say your research involves the competing psychological approaches of behaviorism and cognitive psychology. You might make a table to summarize the key differences between them.

Behaviorism Cognitive psychology
Dominant from the 1920s to the 1950s Rose to prominence in the 1960s
Mental processes cannot be empirically studied Mental processes as focus of study
Focuses on how thinking is affected by conditioning and environment Focuses on the cognitive processes themselves

Or say you’re writing about the major global conflicts of the twentieth century. You might visualize the key similarities and differences in a Venn diagram.

A Venn diagram showing the similarities and differences between World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

These visualizations wouldn’t make it into your actual writing, so they don’t have to be very formal in terms of phrasing or presentation. The point of comparing and contrasting at this stage is to help you organize and shape your ideas to aid you in structuring your arguments.

When comparing and contrasting in an essay, there are two main ways to structure your comparisons: the alternating method and the block method.

The alternating method

In the alternating method, you structure your text according to what aspect you’re comparing. You cover both your subjects side by side in terms of a specific point of comparison. Your text is structured like this:

Mouse over the example paragraph below to see how this approach works.

One challenge teachers face is identifying and assisting students who are struggling without disrupting the rest of the class. In a traditional classroom environment, the teacher can easily identify when a student is struggling based on their demeanor in class or simply by regularly checking on students during exercises. They can then offer assistance quietly during the exercise or discuss it further after class. Meanwhile, in a Zoom-based class, the lack of physical presence makes it more difficult to pay attention to individual students’ responses and notice frustrations, and there is less flexibility to speak with students privately to offer assistance. In this case, therefore, the traditional classroom environment holds the advantage, although it appears likely that aiding students in a virtual classroom environment will become easier as the technology, and teachers’ familiarity with it, improves.

The block method

In the block method, you cover each of the overall subjects you’re comparing in a block. You say everything you have to say about your first subject, then discuss your second subject, making comparisons and contrasts back to the things you’ve already said about the first. Your text is structured like this:

  • Point of comparison A
  • Point of comparison B

The most commonly cited advantage of distance learning is the flexibility and accessibility it offers. Rather than being required to travel to a specific location every week (and to live near enough to feasibly do so), students can participate from anywhere with an internet connection. This allows not only for a wider geographical spread of students but for the possibility of studying while travelling. However, distance learning presents its own accessibility challenges; not all students have a stable internet connection and a computer or other device with which to participate in online classes, and less technologically literate students and teachers may struggle with the technical aspects of class participation. Furthermore, discomfort and distractions can hinder an individual student’s ability to engage with the class from home, creating divergent learning experiences for different students. Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

Note that these two methods can be combined; these two example paragraphs could both be part of the same essay, but it’s wise to use an essay outline to plan out which approach you’re taking in each paragraph.

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Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Comparing and Contrasting

What this handout is about.

This handout will help you first to determine whether a particular assignment is asking for comparison/contrast and then to generate a list of similarities and differences, decide which similarities and differences to focus on, and organize your paper so that it will be clear and effective. It will also explain how you can (and why you should) develop a thesis that goes beyond “Thing A and Thing B are similar in many ways but different in others.”

Introduction

In your career as a student, you’ll encounter many different kinds of writing assignments, each with its own requirements. One of the most common is the comparison/contrast essay, in which you focus on the ways in which certain things or ideas—usually two of them—are similar to (this is the comparison) and/or different from (this is the contrast) one another. By assigning such essays, your instructors are encouraging you to make connections between texts or ideas, engage in critical thinking, and go beyond mere description or summary to generate interesting analysis: when you reflect on similarities and differences, you gain a deeper understanding of the items you are comparing, their relationship to each other, and what is most important about them.

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.
  • Compare WWI to WWII, identifying similarities in the causes, development, and outcomes of the wars.
  • Contrast Wordsworth and Coleridge; what are the major differences in their poetry?

Notice that some topics ask only for comparison, others only for contrast, and others for both.

But it’s not always so easy to tell whether an assignment is asking you to include comparison/contrast. And in some cases, comparison/contrast is only part of the essay—you begin by comparing and/or contrasting two or more things and then use what you’ve learned to construct an argument or evaluation. Consider these examples, noticing the language that is used to ask for the comparison/contrast and whether the comparison/contrast is only one part of a larger assignment:

  • Choose a particular idea or theme, such as romantic love, death, or nature, and consider how it is treated in two Romantic poems.
  • How do the different authors we have studied so far define and describe oppression?
  • Compare Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression. What does each imply about women’s collusion in their own oppression? Which is more accurate?
  • In the texts we’ve studied, soldiers who served in different wars offer differing accounts of their experiences and feelings both during and after the fighting. What commonalities are there in these accounts? What factors do you think are responsible for their differences?

You may want to check out our handout on understanding assignments for additional tips.

Using comparison/contrast for all kinds of writing projects

Sometimes you may want to use comparison/contrast techniques in your own pre-writing work to get ideas that you can later use for an argument, even if comparison/contrast isn’t an official requirement for the paper you’re writing. For example, if you wanted to argue that Frye’s account of oppression is better than both de Beauvoir’s and Bartky’s, comparing and contrasting the main arguments of those three authors might help you construct your evaluation—even though the topic may not have asked for comparison/contrast and the lists of similarities and differences you generate may not appear anywhere in the final draft of your paper.

Discovering similarities and differences

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. Assign each one of the areas that doesn’t overlap; in those areas, you can list the traits that make the things different. Here’s a very simple example, using two pizza places:

Venn diagram indicating that both Pepper's and Amante serve pizza with unusual ingredients at moderate prices, despite differences in location, wait times, and delivery options

To make a chart, figure out what criteria you want to focus on in comparing the items. Along the left side of the page, list each of the criteria. Across the top, list the names of the items. You should then have a box per item for each criterion; you can fill the boxes in and then survey what you’ve discovered.

Here’s an example, this time using three pizza places:

Pepper’s Amante Papa John’s
Location
Price
Delivery
Ingredients
Service
Seating/eating in
Coupons

As you generate points of comparison, consider the purpose and content of the assignment and the focus of the class. What do you think the professor wants you to learn by doing this comparison/contrast? How does it fit with what you have been studying so far and with the other assignments in the course? Are there any clues about what to focus on in the assignment itself?

Here are some general questions about different types of things you might have to compare. These are by no means complete or definitive lists; they’re just here to give you some ideas—you can generate your own questions for these and other types of comparison. You may want to begin by using the questions reporters traditionally ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? If you’re talking about objects, you might also consider general properties like size, shape, color, sound, weight, taste, texture, smell, number, duration, and location.

Two historical periods or events

  • When did they occur—do you know the date(s) and duration? What happened or changed during each? Why are they significant?
  • What kinds of work did people do? What kinds of relationships did they have? What did they value?
  • What kinds of governments were there? Who were important people involved?
  • What caused events in these periods, and what consequences did they have later on?

Two ideas or theories

  • What are they about?
  • Did they originate at some particular time?
  • Who created them? Who uses or defends them?
  • What is the central focus, claim, or goal of each? What conclusions do they offer?
  • How are they applied to situations/people/things/etc.?
  • Which seems more plausible to you, and why? How broad is their scope?
  • What kind of evidence is usually offered for them?

Two pieces of writing or art

  • What are their titles? What do they describe or depict?
  • What is their tone or mood? What is their form?
  • Who created them? When were they created? Why do you think they were created as they were? What themes do they address?
  • Do you think one is of higher quality or greater merit than the other(s)—and if so, why?
  • For writing: what plot, characterization, setting, theme, tone, and type of narration are used?
  • Where are they from? How old are they? What is the gender, race, class, etc. of each?
  • What, if anything, are they known for? Do they have any relationship to each other?
  • What are they like? What did/do they do? What do they believe? Why are they interesting?
  • What stands out most about each of them?

Deciding what to focus on

By now you have probably generated a huge list of similarities and differences—congratulations! Next you must decide which of them are interesting, important, and relevant enough to be included in your paper. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s relevant to the assignment?
  • What’s relevant to the course?
  • What’s interesting and informative?
  • What matters to the argument you are going to make?
  • What’s basic or central (and needs to be mentioned even if obvious)?
  • Overall, what’s more important—the similarities or the differences?

Suppose that you are writing a paper comparing two novels. For most literature classes, the fact that they both use Caslon type (a kind of typeface, like the fonts you may use in your writing) is not going to be relevant, nor is the fact that one of them has a few illustrations and the other has none; literature classes are more likely to focus on subjects like characterization, plot, setting, the writer’s style and intentions, language, central themes, and so forth. However, if you were writing a paper for a class on typesetting or on how illustrations are used to enhance novels, the typeface and presence or absence of illustrations might be absolutely critical to include in your final paper.

Sometimes a particular point of comparison or contrast might be relevant but not terribly revealing or interesting. For example, if you are writing a paper about Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” and Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight,” pointing out that they both have nature as a central theme is relevant (comparisons of poetry often talk about themes) but not terribly interesting; your class has probably already had many discussions about the Romantic poets’ fondness for nature. Talking about the different ways nature is depicted or the different aspects of nature that are emphasized might be more interesting and show a more sophisticated understanding of the poems.

Your thesis

The thesis of your comparison/contrast paper is very important: it can help you create a focused argument and give your reader a road map so they don’t get lost in the sea of points you are about to make. As in any paper, you will want to replace vague reports of your general topic (for example, “This paper will compare and contrast two pizza places,” or “Pepper’s and Amante are similar in some ways and different in others,” or “Pepper’s and Amante are similar in many ways, but they have one major difference”) with something more detailed and specific. For example, you might say, “Pepper’s and Amante have similar prices and ingredients, but their atmospheres and willingness to deliver set them apart.”

Be careful, though—although this thesis is fairly specific and does propose a simple argument (that atmosphere and delivery make the two pizza places different), your instructor will often be looking for a bit more analysis. In this case, the obvious question is “So what? Why should anyone care that Pepper’s and Amante are different in this way?” One might also wonder why the writer chose those two particular pizza places to compare—why not Papa John’s, Dominos, or Pizza Hut? Again, thinking about the context the class provides may help you answer such questions and make a stronger argument. Here’s a revision of the thesis mentioned earlier:

Pepper’s and Amante both offer a greater variety of ingredients than other Chapel Hill/Carrboro pizza places (and than any of the national chains), but the funky, lively atmosphere at Pepper’s makes it a better place to give visiting friends and family a taste of local culture.

You may find our handout on constructing thesis statements useful at this stage.

Organizing your paper

There are many different ways to organize a comparison/contrast essay. Here are two:

Subject-by-subject

Begin by saying everything you have to say about the first subject you are discussing, then move on and make all the points you want to make about the second subject (and after that, the third, and so on, if you’re comparing/contrasting more than two things). If the paper is short, you might be able to fit all of your points about each item into a single paragraph, but it’s more likely that you’d have several paragraphs per item. Using our pizza place comparison/contrast as an example, after the introduction, you might have a paragraph about the ingredients available at Pepper’s, a paragraph about its location, and a paragraph about its ambience. Then you’d have three similar paragraphs about Amante, followed by your conclusion.

The danger of this subject-by-subject organization is that your paper will simply be a list of points: a certain number of points (in my example, three) about one subject, then a certain number of points about another. This is usually not what college instructors are looking for in a paper—generally they want you to compare or contrast two or more things very directly, rather than just listing the traits the things have and leaving it up to the reader to reflect on how those traits are similar or different and why those similarities or differences matter. Thus, if you use the subject-by-subject form, you will probably want to have a very strong, analytical thesis and at least one body paragraph that ties all of your different points together.

A subject-by-subject structure can be a logical choice if you are writing what is sometimes called a “lens” comparison, in which you use one subject or item (which isn’t really your main topic) to better understand another item (which is). For example, you might be asked to compare a poem you’ve already covered thoroughly in class with one you are reading on your own. It might make sense to give a brief summary of your main ideas about the first poem (this would be your first subject, the “lens”), and then spend most of your paper discussing how those points are similar to or different from your ideas about the second.

Point-by-point

Rather than addressing things one subject at a time, you may wish to talk about one point of comparison at a time. There are two main ways this might play out, depending on how much you have to say about each of the things you are comparing. If you have just a little, you might, in a single paragraph, discuss how a certain point of comparison/contrast relates to all the items you are discussing. For example, I might describe, in one paragraph, what the prices are like at both Pepper’s and Amante; in the next paragraph, I might compare the ingredients available; in a third, I might contrast the atmospheres of the two restaurants.

If I had a bit more to say about the items I was comparing/contrasting, I might devote a whole paragraph to how each point relates to each item. For example, I might have a whole paragraph about the clientele at Pepper’s, followed by a whole paragraph about the clientele at Amante; then I would move on and do two more paragraphs discussing my next point of comparison/contrast—like the ingredients available at each restaurant.

There are no hard and fast rules about organizing a comparison/contrast paper, of course. Just be sure that your reader can easily tell what’s going on! Be aware, too, of the placement of your different points. If you are writing a comparison/contrast in service of an argument, keep in mind that the last point you make is the one you are leaving your reader with. For example, if I am trying to argue that Amante is better than Pepper’s, I should end with a contrast that leaves Amante sounding good, rather than with a point of comparison that I have to admit makes Pepper’s look better. If you’ve decided that the differences between the items you’re comparing/contrasting are most important, you’ll want to end with the differences—and vice versa, if the similarities seem most important to you.

Our handout on organization can help you write good topic sentences and transitions and make sure that you have a good overall structure in place for your paper.

Cue words and other tips

To help your reader keep track of where you are in the comparison/contrast, you’ll want to be sure that your transitions and topic sentences are especially strong. Your thesis should already have given the reader an idea of the points you’ll be making and the organization you’ll be using, but you can help them out with some extra cues. The following words may be helpful to you in signaling your intentions:

  • like, similar to, also, unlike, similarly, in the same way, likewise, again, compared to, in contrast, in like manner, contrasted with, on the contrary, however, although, yet, even though, still, but, nevertheless, conversely, at the same time, regardless, despite, while, on the one hand … on the other hand.

For example, you might have a topic sentence like one of these:

  • Compared to Pepper’s, Amante is quiet.
  • Like Amante, Pepper’s offers fresh garlic as a topping.
  • Despite their different locations (downtown Chapel Hill and downtown Carrboro), Pepper’s and Amante are both fairly easy to get to.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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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.

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how to write an essay on similarities and differences

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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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The Comparative Essay

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What is a comparative essay?

A comparative essay asks that you compare at least two (possibly more) items. These items will differ depending on the assignment. You might be asked to compare

  • positions on an issue (e.g., responses to midwifery in Canada and the United States)
  • theories (e.g., capitalism and communism)
  • figures (e.g., GDP in the United States and Britain)
  • texts (e.g., Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth )
  • events (e.g., the Great Depression and the global financial crisis of 2008–9)

Although the assignment may say “compare,” the assumption is that you will consider both the similarities and differences; in other words, you will compare and contrast.

Make sure you know the basis for comparison

The assignment sheet may say exactly what you need to compare, or it may ask you to come up with a basis for comparison yourself.

  • Provided by the essay question: The essay question may ask that you consider the figure of the gentleman in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall . The basis for comparison will be the figure of the gentleman.
  • Developed by you: The question may simply ask that you compare the two novels. If so, you will need to develop a basis for comparison, that is, a theme, concern, or device common to both works from which you can draw similarities and differences.

Develop a list of similarities and differences

Once you know your basis for comparison, think critically about the similarities and differences between the items you are comparing, and compile a list of them.

For example, you might decide that in Great Expectations , being a true gentleman is not a matter of manners or position but morality, whereas in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall , being a true gentleman is not about luxury and self-indulgence but hard work and productivity.

The list you have generated is not yet your outline for the essay, but it should provide you with enough similarities and differences to construct an initial plan.

Develop a thesis based on the relative weight of similarities and differences

Once you have listed similarities and differences, decide whether the similarities on the whole outweigh the differences or vice versa. Create a thesis statement that reflects their relative weights. A more complex thesis will usually include both similarities and differences. Here are examples of the two main cases:

While Callaghan’s “All the Years of Her Life” and Mistry’s “Of White Hairs and Cricket” both follow the conventions of the coming-of-age narrative, Callaghan’s story adheres more closely to these conventions by allowing its central protagonist to mature. In Mistry’s story, by contrast, no real growth occurs.
Although Darwin and Lamarck came to different conclusions about whether acquired traits can be inherited, they shared the key distinction of recognizing that species evolve over time.

Come up with a structure for your essay

A Paragraph 1 in body new technology and the French Revolution
B Paragraph 2 in body new technology and the Russian Revolution
A Paragraph 3 in body military strategy and the French Revolution
B Paragraph 4 in body military strategy and the Russian Revolution
A Paragraph 5 in body administrative system and the French Revolution
B Paragraph 6 in body administrative system and the Russian Revolution

Note that the French and Russian revolutions (A and B) may be dissimilar rather than similar in the way they affected innovation in any of the three areas of technology, military strategy, and administration. To use the alternating method, you just need to have something noteworthy to say about both A and B in each area. Finally, you may certainly include more than three pairs of alternating points: allow the subject matter to determine the number of points you choose to develop in the body of your essay.

A Paragraphs 1–3 in body How the French Revolution encouraged or thwarted innovation
B Paragraphs 4–6 in body How the Russian Revolution encouraged or thwarted innovation

When do I use the block method? The block method is particularly useful in the following cases:

  • You are unable to find points about A and B that are closely related to each other.
  • Your ideas about B build upon or extend your ideas about A.
  • You are comparing three or more subjects as opposed to the traditional two.
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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

  • 5-minute read
  • 9th March 2021

In a compare and contrast essay , you look at the similarities and differences between two subjects. How do you write one, though? Key steps include:

  • Pick two things to compare based on the assignment you were given.
  • Brainstorm the similarities and differences between your chosen subjects.
  • Choose a structure for your essay and plan how you will write it.
  • Write up your comparison and use evidence to support your argument.
  • Revise and proofread your essay to make sure it is perfect.

For more advice on each stage, check out our guide below.

1. Pick Two Subjects to Compare and Contrast

A compare and contrast assignment will ask you, unsurprisingly, to compare and contrast two things. In some cases, the assignment question will make this clear. For instance, if the assignment says ‘Compare how Mozart and Beethoven use melody’, you will have a very clear sense of what to write about!

Other times, you will have a choice of what to compare. In this case, you will want to pick two things that are similar enough to make a useful comparison.

For example, comparing Mozart and Beethoven makes sense because both are classical composers. This means there will be lots of points of comparison between them. But comparing Mozart to a Ferrari SF90 Stradale would just be confusing: one is a renowned composer and musician, the other is a high-end sports car, so they have very little in common that we could usefully compare.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

At the same time, the things you pick should be different enough that you can find points of contrast. Were you asked to compare the calorific content of two types of fast food, for example, it might not make sense to compare hamburgers and cheeseburgers as they are too similar. But you could compare hamburgers and pizzas since both are forms of fast food but they differ in other respects.

As such, if you need to pick the subjects of your essay, read your assignment question carefully and try to find two things that will produce a helpful comparison.

2. Brainstorm Their Similarities and Differences

The next step is to brainstorm similarities and differences between your chosen subjects. You can do this as a simple list, but you could also use a Venn diagram.

This is a set of overlapping circles, each of which represents one subject. You can then add characteristics to each circle, with anything your subjects have in common going in the overlapping bit in the middle.

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how to write an essay on similarities and differences

Once you’ve listed characteristics, you’ll need to pick out the similarities and differences relevant to your essay. If you were assigned a question, use this to guide your choices. Otherwise, look for features that seem surprising or interesting and plan your essay around these. The key is to pick points of comparison that help us to understand each thing better, or where the similarities and differences show us something that we might not have expected or noticed otherwise.

3. Choose a Structure for Your Essay

As with any essay, you will want to start with a short introduction where you introduce your topic and what you will argue. Beyond this, most compare and contrast essays are structured in one of two ways. Decide which approach to take before you write your essay outline :

  • Divide by subject – Cover each subject in turn, looking at the key features you’ve identified in the previous step. You can then include a final section where you highlight what comparing the subjects tell us.
  • Divide by individual points – Break your essay down into a series of sections. Each section will then focus on one of the key features you’ve identified, explaining the similarities and differences between your chosen subjects.

For instance, if you were comparing two novels, you could write about each novel in turn and then compare them at the end. Alternatively, you could structure your essay so that each section covers an individual idea (e.g. one on structure, one on characters, one on language), looking at how each book uses these things.

In either case, you will want to end on a conclusion where you summarise what the comparison has shown us about the two subjects.

4. Use Supporting Evidence for Your Argument

It is important that you also back up your statements with supporting evidence. In some cases, this will simply involve pointing to the features of each subject that you’re discussing (e.g. citing specific parts of the novels you’re comparing).

However, you can also do extra research to back up your arguments. Were you comparing two countries’ economic performance, for example, you could use statistics from other studies or reports to show the similarities and differences.

5. Proofread Your Compare and Contrast Essay

Once you have a first draft of your compare and contrast essay, take a break. If you have time, leave it overnight. The aim is to come back to it with fresh eyes and reread it, looking for any areas you could improve. After this, you can redraft your essay to make sure your argument is clear, concise, and convincing.

It is also a good idea to have your essay proofread before submitting it. This will ensure your work is error free and help you get the marks you deserve.

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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

Comparison Contrast
one similarity one difference
another similarity another difference
both conversely
like in contrast
likewise unlike
similarly while
in a similar fashion whereas

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.

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Compare & Contrast Essays How things are similar or different

Compare and contrast is a common form of academic writing, either as an essay type on its own, or as part of a larger essay which includes one or more paragraphs which compare or contrast. This page gives information on what a compare and contrast essay is , how to structure this type of essay, how to use compare and contrast structure words , and how to make sure you use appropriate criteria for comparison/contrast . There is also an example compare and contrast essay on the topic of communication technology, as well as some exercises to help you practice this area.

What are compare & contrast essays?

compare

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how to write an essay on similarities and differences

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 characters in a novel, etc. Sometimes the whole essay will compare and contrast, though sometimes the comparison or contrast may be only part of the essay. It is also possible, especially for short exam essays, that only the similarities or the differences, not both, will be discussed. See the examples below.

  • Compare and contrast Newton's ideas of gravity with those proposed by Einstein ['compare and contrast' essay]
  • Examine how the economies of Spain and China are similar ['compare' only essay]
  • Explain the differences between Achaemenid Empire and Parthian Empire ['contrast' only essay]

There are two main ways to structure a compare and contrast essay, namely using a block or a point-by-point structure. For the block structure, all of the information about one of the objects being compared/contrasted is given first, and all of the information about the other object is listed afterwards. This type of structure is similar to the block structure used for cause and effect and problem-solution essays. For the point-by-point structure, each similarity (or difference) for one object is followed immediately by the similarity (or difference) for the other. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is easier to write, while the latter is generally clearer as it ensures that the similarities/differences are more explicit.

The two types of structure, block and point-by-point , are shown in the diagram below.





Compare and Contrast Structure Words

Compare and contrast structure words are transition signals which show the similarities or differences. Below are some common examples.

  • both... and...
  • not only... but also...
  • neither... nor...
  • just like (+ noun)
  • similar to (+ noun)
  • to be similar (to)
  • to be the same as
  • to be alike
  • to compare (to/with)
  • Computers can be used to communicate easily, for example via email. Similarly/Likewise , the mobile phone is a convenient tool for communication.
  • Both computers and mobile phones can be used to communicate easily with other people.
  • Just like the computer, the mobile phone can be used to communicate easily with other people.
  • The computer is similar to the mobile phone in the way it can be used for easy communication.
  • In contrast
  • In comparison
  • By comparison
  • On the other hand
  • to differ from
  • to be different (from)
  • to be dissimilar to
  • to be unlike
  • Computers, although increasingly small, are not always easy to carry from one place to another. However , the mobile phone can be carried with ease.
  • Computers are generally not very portable, whereas the mobile phone is.
  • Computers differ from mobile phones in their lack of portability.
  • Computers are unlike mobile phones in their lack of portability.

Criteria for comparison/contrast

When making comparisons or contrasts, it is important to be clear what criteria you are using. Study the following example, which contrasts two people. Here the criteria are unclear.

  • Aaron is tall and strong. In contrast , Bruce is handsome and very intelligent.

Although this sentence has a contrast transition , the criteria for contrasting are not the same. The criteria used for Aaron are height (tall) and strength (strong). We would expect similar criteria to be used for Bruce (maybe he is short and weak), but instead we have new criteria, namely appearance (handsome) and intelligence (intelligent). This is a common mistake for students when writing this type of paragraph or essay. Compare the following, which has much clearer criteria (contrast structure words shown in bold).

  • Aaron and Bruce differ in four ways. The first difference is height. Aaron is tall, while Bruce is short. A second difference is strength. Aaron is strong. In contrast , Bruce is weak. A third difference is appearance. Aaron, who is average looking, differs from Bruce, who is handsome. The final difference is intelligence. Aaron is of average intelligence. Bruce, on the other hand , is very intelligent.

Example essay

Below is a compare and contrast essay. This essay uses the point-by-point structure . Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. similarities, differences, and structure words. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary , as these repeat the comparisons and contrasts contained in the main body.

Title: There have been many advances in technology over the past fifty years. These have revolutionised the way we communicate with people who are far away. Compare and contrast methods of communication used today with those which were used in the past.

 
         
 
 

Before the advent of computers and modern technology, people communicating over long distances used traditional means such as letters and the telephone. Nowadays we have a vast array of communication tools which can complete this task, ranging from email to instant messaging and video calls. While the present and previous means of communication are similar in their general form , they differ in regard to their speed and the range of tools available . One similarity between current and previous methods of communication relates to the form of communication. In the past, both written forms such as letters were frequently used, in addition to oral forms such as telephone calls. Similarly , people nowadays use both of these forms. Just as in the past, written forms of communication are prevalent, for example via email and text messaging. In addition, oral forms are still used, including the telephone, mobile phone, and voice messages via instant messaging services. However , there are clearly many differences in the way we communicate over long distances, the most notable of which is speed. This is most evident in relation to written forms of communication. In the past, letters would take days to arrive at their destination. In contrast , an email arrives almost instantaneously and can be read seconds after it was sent. In the past, if it was necessary to send a short message, for example at work, a memo could be passed around the office, which would take some time to circulate. This is different from the current situation, in which a text message can be sent immediately. Another significant difference is the range of communication methods. Fifty years ago, the tools available for communicating over long distances were primarily the telephone and the letter. By comparison , there are a vast array of communication methods available today. These include not only the telephone, letter, email and text messages already mentioned, but also video conferences via software such as Skype or mobile phone apps such as WeChat, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. In conclusion, methods of communication have greatly advanced over the past fifty years. While there are some similarities, such as the forms of communication , there are significant differences, chiefly in relation to the speed of communication and the range of communication tools available . There is no doubt that technology will continue to progress in future, and the advanced tools which we use today may one day also become outdated.

 
     
 
 

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Below is a checklist for compare and contrast essays. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

The essay is a essay
An appropriate is used, either or
Compare and contrast are used accurately
The for comparison/contrast are clear
The essay has clear
Each paragraph has a clear
The essay has strong support (facts, reasons, examples, etc.)
The conclusion includes a of the main points

There is a downloadable graphic organiser for brainstorming ideas for compare and contrast essays in the writing resources section.

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Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 08 January 2022.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .

Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

Essay Papers Writing Online

A comprehensive guide to crafting a successful comparison essay.

How to write comparison essay

Comparison essays are a common assignment in academic settings, requiring students to analyze and contrast two or more subjects, concepts, or ideas. Writing a comparison essay can be challenging, but with the right approach and guidance, you can craft a compelling and informative piece of writing.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with valuable tips and examples to help you master the art of comparison essay writing. Whether you’re comparing two literary works, historical events, scientific theories, or any other topics, this guide will equip you with the tools and strategies needed to create a well-structured and persuasive essay.

From choosing a suitable topic and developing a strong thesis statement to organizing your arguments and incorporating effective evidence, this guide will walk you through each step of the writing process. By following the advice and examples provided here, you’ll be able to produce a top-notch comparison essay that showcases your analytical skills and critical thinking abilities.

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into writing a comparison essay, it’s essential to understand the basics of comparison writing. A comparison essay, also known as a comparative essay, requires you to analyze two or more subjects by highlighting their similarities and differences. This type of essay aims to show how these subjects are similar or different in various aspects.

When writing a comparison essay, you should have a clear thesis statement that identifies the subjects you are comparing and the main points of comparison. It’s essential to structure your essay effectively by organizing your ideas logically. You can use different methods of organization, such as the block method or point-by-point method, to present your comparisons.

Additionally, make sure to include evidence and examples to support your comparisons. Use specific details and examples to strengthen your arguments and clarify the similarities and differences between the subjects. Lastly, remember to provide a strong conclusion that summarizes your main points and reinforces the significance of your comparison.

Choosing a Topic for Comparison Essay

When selecting a topic for your comparison essay, it’s essential to choose two subjects that have some similarities and differences to explore. You can compare two books, two movies, two historical figures, two theories, or any other pair of related subjects.

Consider selecting topics that interest you or that you are familiar with to make the writing process more engaging and manageable. Additionally, ensure that the subjects you choose are suitable for comparison and have enough material for analysis.

It’s also helpful to brainstorm ideas and create a list of potential topics before making a final decision. Once you have a few options in mind, evaluate them based on the relevance of the comparison, the availability of credible sources, and your own interest in the subjects.

Remember that a well-chosen topic is one of the keys to writing a successful comparison essay, so take your time to select subjects that will allow you to explore meaningful connections and differences in a compelling way.

Finding the Right Pairing

When writing a comparison essay, it’s crucial to find the right pairing of subjects to compare. Choose subjects that have enough similarities and differences to make a meaningful comparison. Consider the audience and purpose of your essay to determine what pairing will be most effective.

Look for subjects that you are passionate about or have a deep understanding of. This will make the writing process easier and more engaging. Additionally, consider choosing subjects that are relevant and timely, as this will make your essay more interesting to readers.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when finding the right pairing. Sometimes unexpected combinations can lead to the most compelling comparisons. Conduct thorough research on both subjects to ensure you have enough material to work with and present a balanced comparison.

Structuring Your Comparison Essay

When writing a comparison essay, it is essential to organize your ideas in a clear and logical manner. One effective way to structure your essay is to use a point-by-point comparison or a block comparison format.

Point-by-Point Comparison Block Comparison
In this format, you will discuss one point of comparison between the two subjects before moving on to the next point. In this format, you will discuss all the points related to one subject before moving on to the next subject.
Allows for a more detailed analysis of each point of comparison. Provides a clear and structured comparison of the two subjects.
Can be helpful when the subjects have multiple similarities and differences to explore. May be easier to follow for readers who prefer a side-by-side comparison of the subjects.

Whichever format you choose, make sure to introduce your subjects, present your points of comparison, provide evidence or examples to support your comparisons, and conclude by summarizing the main points and highlighting the significance of your comparison.

Creating a Clear Outline

Before you start writing your comparison essay, it’s essential to create a clear outline. An outline serves as a roadmap that helps you stay organized and focused throughout the writing process. Here are some steps to create an effective outline:

1. Identify the subjects of comparison: Start by determining the two subjects you will be comparing in your essay. Make sure they have enough similarities and differences to make a meaningful comparison.

2. Brainstorm key points: Once you have chosen the subjects, brainstorm the key points you want to compare and contrast. These could include characteristics, features, themes, or arguments related to each subject.

3. Organize your points: Arrange your key points in a logical order. You can choose to compare similar points side by side or alternate between the two subjects to highlight differences.

4. Develop a thesis statement: Based on your key points, develop a clear thesis statement that states the main purpose of your comparison essay. This statement should guide the rest of your writing and provide a clear direction for your argument.

5. Create a structure: Divide your essay into introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each section should serve a specific purpose and contribute to the overall coherence of your essay.

By creating a clear outline, you can ensure that your comparison essay flows smoothly and effectively communicates your ideas to the reader.

Engaging the Reader

When writing a comparison essay, it is crucial to engage the reader right from the beginning. You want to hook their attention and make them want to keep reading. Here are some tips to engage your reader:

  • Start with a strong opening statement or question that entices the reader to continue reading.
  • Use vivid language and descriptive imagery to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind.
  • Provide interesting facts or statistics that pique the reader’s curiosity.
  • Create a compelling thesis statement that outlines the purpose of your comparison essay.

By engaging the reader from the start, you set the stage for a successful and impactful comparison essay that keeps the reader engaged until the very end.

Point-by-Point vs Block Method

Point-by-Point vs Block Method

When writing a comparison essay, you have two main options for structuring your content: the point-by-point method and the block method. Each method has its own advantages and may be more suitable depending on the type of comparison you are making.

  • Point-by-Point Method: This method involves discussing one point of comparison at a time between the two subjects. You will go back and forth between the subjects, highlighting similarities and differences for each point. This method allows for a more detailed and nuanced analysis of the subjects.
  • Block Method: In contrast, the block method involves discussing all the points related to one subject first, followed by all the points related to the second subject. This method provides a more straightforward and organized comparison but may not delve as deeply into the individual points of comparison.

Ultimately, the choice between the point-by-point and block methods depends on the complexity of your comparison and the level of detail you want to explore. Experiment with both methods to see which one best suits your writing style and the specific requirements of your comparison essay.

Selecting the Best Approach

When it comes to writing a comparison essay, selecting the best approach is crucial to ensure a successful and effective comparison. There are several approaches you can take when comparing two subjects, including the block method and the point-by-point method.

The block method: This approach involves discussing all the similarities and differences of one subject first, followed by a thorough discussion of the second subject. This method is useful when the two subjects being compared are quite different or when the reader may not be familiar with one of the subjects.

The point-by-point method: This approach involves alternating between discussing the similarities and differences of the two subjects in each paragraph. This method allows for a more in-depth comparison of specific points and is often preferred when the two subjects have many similarities and differences.

Before selecting an approach, consider the nature of the subjects being compared and the purpose of your comparison essay. Choose the approach that will best serve your purpose and allow for a clear, organized, and engaging comparison.

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5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

Learn about our Editorial Process

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:

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How to Write a Comparison Essay: From Similarities to Differences

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Table of contents

  • 1.1 What Сan I Compare and Contrast?
  • 1.2 Choosing a Great Topic for a Comparison Essay
  • 1.3 Education Compare and Contrast Essays Topics
  • 1.4 Sports Compare and Contrast Essays Topics
  • 1.5 Politics Compare and Contrast Essays Topics
  • 1.6 Economy Compare and Contrast Essays Topics
  • 1.7 Social Studies Compare and Contrast Essays Topics
  • 1.8 History Compare and Contrast Essays Topics
  • 1.9 Literature Compare and Contrast Essays Topics
  • 1.10 Controversial Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
  • 2.1 Thesis Statement
  • 3.0.1 Understand Your Subjects:
  • 3.0.2 Purpose of the Essay:
  • 3.0.3 Audience Consideration:
  • 3.0.4 Two Predominant Structures:
  • 4.1 Comparison Essay Outline Example
  • 5.1 Comparison Essay Format
  • 6 Bringing It All Together

As we navigate our lives, we can’t help but notice the elements in our environment, whether it’s the latest car, a fashion trend, or even some experiences. Think about your favorite Mexican restaurant, then visit another; automatically, you’re likely to size them up to each other. So when your professors assign you homework to compare two samples in a case study, it may seem natural.

But at the college level, something happens, our natural ability to compare vacates us. You may be stuck wondering how to write a comparison essay. This is a common dilemma many students face. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to walk you through the perfect paper’s construction steps. Below, you’ll find:

  • A comprehensive guide on how to write a comparison essay, outlining its purpose, how to choose relevant topics for comparison, and the structure for presenting the content effectively.
  • That the comparison essay requires the writer to analyze two objects, events, or theories and identify their similarities and differences, supporting findings with empirical data.
  • For a successful comparison essay, it’s essential to choose relevant subjects, have a clear and precise thesis statement, and employ an effective structure, depending on the subjects and purpose of the essay.

So read on to learn how the pros from  Papersowl  suggest writing a compare and contrast essay.

What Is a Comparison Essay?

As it sounds, your comparative essay should analyze two objects, events, or theories and determine the similarities and differences . The overall goal of the paper is for the reader to clearly identify how the studied criteria are the same and where they diverge. In a marketing class, you may evaluate two similar products and develop a plan to demonstrate their features and benefits. Or, in a psychology class, you may have an in-depth look at two therapy techniques and then evaluate the results of a particular case study.

Your paper’s critical component is that you must ensure your findings are backed up with empirical data. While you may feel one subject is “better” than another, giving examples to prove your position is important. Information that can be weighed or measured, such as a device’s performance or the results of a process, is strong evidence to support a claim.

What Сan I Compare and Contrast?

As long as the main points make sense and the essay is comprehensive to the reader, anything can be used as a topic for a compare-and-contrast essay. It is important to remember that two principal subjects related in one way should be compared and contrasted. To help you better understand this concept, below is a table serving as a visual aid and showcasing examples of compare and contrast essay topics.

Food

Apples & Pears

Apples & Seeds

Apples & Unicorns

Sitcoms

Scrubs & F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Scrubs & Zach Braff

Scrubs & Napkins

Social Politics

Radical Feminism & Liberal Feminism

Radical Feminism & Women’s Day

Radical Feminism & Water Pollution

Programming

Java & C++

Java & Websites

Java & Chips

History

Socialism & Communism

Socialism & Self-Management

Socialism & Animal Shelters

Self-driving cars

Uber & Tesla

Uber & Tires

Uber & Blankets

The “Good Examples” column presents two semantic subjects. They are not entirely different and, as such, leave more room for analysis. The column “Examples to improve” also contains subjects relevant to each other. However, a correlation between them is nearly impossible because they are different types of things from the same field. And the final column, “Examples to avoid,” as the name suggests, showcases some examples of topics that would not make a good compare and contrast essay.

Choosing a Great Topic for a Comparison Essay

What you write about could make or break your paper. As in any academic work, a good compare and contrast essay will have a purpose that adds value. For this, consider topics that are helpful in your discipline. Effective compare and contrast topics should expand the universe of knowledge or valid claims that have not yet been proven. A few examples of topics include:

Education Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  • Home Education vs. Daycare: What will Suit your Child?
  • Spice-Cake vs. Cane: What Works Better with Kids?
  • E-learning vs. Conventional Learning.
  • Learning System in Asia vs. the West.
  • College Dream vs. Skills Acquisition.
  • Textbooks vs. E-books.
  • Private vs. Public College: Which will Suit You?.
  • Parents’ Involvement in Children’s Career Choice vs. Self Discovery.

Sports Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  • Football or basketball: three-pointer in the soccer goal.
  • Marathons and walkathons – similar in terms of endurance, will, and fitness. However, they are also different.
  • Indoor vs. In Open Air Sports.
  • Sport-Study Balance vs. High Focus studying .
  • Early morning Exercise vs. Late night Exercise.
  • Running vs. gymming: Which one is for you?.
  • Home Exercise VS Gym Workout.
  • Tennis or Badminton: Which is Harder?.

Politics Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  • Democracy, Monarchy, or Autocracy
  • Socialism and Communism: Is It the Same?
  • Merits of free trade vs. the demerits of Free Trade
  • Centralized Government Vs. Decentralized Government
  • Legislature and executive – Branches of Power to analyze
  • Fundamental rights Vs. State Policy’s directive principles
  • Equal opportunities versus affirmative action

Economy Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  • Economics as Mandatory Discipline or as an Optional Pick
  • Peace vs. political unrest.
  • Economics vs. business studies: What’s More Efficient?
  • Regulated Prices vs. Free Market
  • America Tax System vs. China Tax System
  • New Laws vs Old Laws: Which is More Important
  • Macro-Economics vs. Micro-Economics.

Social Studies Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  • Childhood in the 90s vs. Modern Day Childhood
  • Coronavirus vs. The Great Depression
  • COVID-19 vs. The Plague
  • Common-Law Vs. Civil Law
  • Rural Life to Urban Life
  • America in the 60s Vs. America Now

History Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  • Lincoln’s Ideas vs. Washington’s ideas
  • Baroque epoch vs. Renaissance
  • Religious studies vs. Anthropology: Are They So Different?
  • Napoleon Fall vs. Hitler Fall
  • Democracy and monarchy
  • The US and the UK Election System
  • Nazism vs. Fascism: Is It the Same?

Literature Compare and Contrast Essays Topics

  • Reality vs. Fiction Literature
  • Depiction of Women in Literature in the 80s and Now
  • Memoir vs. Autobiography
  • Prose versus Poetry
  • Shakespeare Piece: Othello vs. Hamlet
  • English novels vs. French novels.
  • Roman and Greek mythology.

Controversial Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

We believe that controversial compare-and-contrast essays are the most interesting ones. They include two opposite beliefs on the same question or situation and analyze their similarity or different points. It’s the most exciting essay type to write and overwhelming to read, so look at the list of top-rated topics for such articles:

  • Intervention or Invasion: What is the Difference?
  • Religion versus Atheism.
  • LGBT++ Rights vs. Sexual Orientation Restriction.
  • Death Penalty vs. Life Sentence: What is Worse?
  • Climate Change vs. War: There Is Connection?
  • Violent video games and Shooting games.

In addition to these academic subjects, you may be tasked to write a good application comparison essay when entering college. These topics could be more light-hearted and include comparing your youth with your adolescent years or comparing two close friends.

Pre-Writing Stage

compare and contrast venn diagram

The pre-writing stage is an indispensable phase in the essay-writing process, laying the foundation for a well-organized and insightful piece. Before diving into the actual writing, this preparatory stage allows you to explore, organize, and refine their thoughts. For compare and contrast essays, this often involves researching the chosen subjects to uncover detailed information, nuances, and perspectives. Techniques such as brainstorming can help identify key points of similarity and difference, while tools like Venn diagrams visually map out where subjects overlap and where they diverge. This visual representation can be particularly invaluable in determining the essay’s structure and focus. Additionally, the pre-writing stage is an opportune time to formulate a tentative thesis statement, which will provide direction and purpose as the essay evolves. By dedicating time to this initial phase, writers can ensure a clearer, more coherent essay, minimizing potential roadblocks and revisions later in the writing process. In essence, the pre-writing is akin to blueprinting; it’s where the groundwork is laid for the construction of a compelling narrative.

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is the anchor of any well-structured essay, offering readers a concise snapshot of what to expect. In a compare and contrast essay, the thesis not only indicates the subjects to be compared but also the focus and purpose of the comparison. Begin by pinpointing the main similarities or differences you want to highlight. For instance, if comparing apples to oranges, your thesis might read: “While apples and oranges both provide essential vitamins and are popular fruits, they differ in texture, taste, and cultural significance.” This statement not only sets the subjects of comparison but also guides readers on the specific aspects being compared.

Crafting an effective thesis requires clarity and precision. It should avoid vague language and ensure that readers can anticipate the direction of the discussion. Remember, a strong thesis statement acts as a roadmap, helping to steer both the writer and the reader through the essay’s argumentative landscape.

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Structure for a Compare and Contrast Essay

When setting out to write a compare and contrast essay, one of the initial and fundamental decisions you’ll need to make is regarding the essay’s structure. Your choice of structure can have a profound impact on the clarity and effectiveness of your presentation. Here’s how you can determine the best structure for your essay:

Understand Your Subjects:

  • Before choosing a structure, you need a clear understanding of your subjects and the points of comparison. Are there numerous similarities and differences, or just a few major ones?

Purpose of the Essay:

  • Are you trying to highlight the stark differences between your subjects, shed light on unexpected similarities, or do both? Your purpose can guide the structure.

Audience Consideration:

  • Think about your readers. If your subjects are very unfamiliar to your audience, the block method might be better because it allows for a more in-depth exploration of each subject before contrasting.

Two Predominant Structures:

  • Block Method:  In this structure, you discuss all relevant points related to one subject and then move on to the next subject. This approach can be particularly useful if you want your readers to have an in-depth understanding of each subject before highlighting the contrasts.

✏️ Example:  If you’re comparing apples and oranges, you would first discuss everything about apples and then everything about oranges.

  • Point-by-Point Method:  This is a more integrated approach. For each point of comparison, you alternate between the two subjects. This method keeps the comparison and contrast front and center and can make direct contrasts clearer.

✏️ Example:  Discuss the color of apples and then the color of oranges, followed by the texture of apples and then the texture of oranges, and so on.

Whichever structure you choose, your primary goal should be clarity. Ensure that your points of comparison are clear and that readers can easily follow your reasoning. Remember, while these are the two primary structures, they are not set in stone. Depending on your topic, you might find it effective to blend these structures in some sections.

In conclusion, the structure you choose for your compare and contrast essay will significantly shape your argument’s presentation. While the block method allows for a deep dive into each subject separately, the point-by-point method maintains a tight focus on the comparison throughout the essay. Evaluate your subjects, your purpose, and your audience, and choose the structure that most effectively communicates your points.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

A good essay outline will contain, at a minimum, the three core sections – introduction, body, and conclusion. Often times the intro can be the most difficult to write, and it should be reserved for last. Once you have all your ideas laid out, hammering out a solid beginning is much easier to inform the reader what is to follow. You can pick out an interesting fact in your paper to write a strong hook to lure your readers in. Also, you’ll be able to tighten up your compare-and-contrast thesis to give a stronger impression.

Comparison Essay Outline Example

In this example, we’ll compare and contrast the essay point by point. In our comparison essay structure, we’ve elected to speak about similarities and follow up with differences and apply an extended conclusion with analysis and then the actual concluding paragraph for the scope of the paper.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

In our comparative essay outline example, we’ve put together a basic template of what the paper should look like. Mind you, this is an informal template for an introduction to compare and contrast essay. If your course requires you to submit a formal outline in APA or MLA style, be sure to draft one according to the latest style guide.

Comparative Essay Outline

You can use this comparative essay outline template to draft your paper as a means to get your ideas out on paper. Like many students, you could be short on time or not have the ability to complete your paper. In this case, you can use our writing service, and we’ll draft a perfect custom text for you to meet any deadlines you have.

We all have our opinions and curiosities, and sharing them with the world is a fun experience. And you can through an effective contrast and comparison paper. Just be sure to pick subjects that can be analyzed and back up your conclusions with data, and you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the world’s inner workings. Sometimes you may find a lack of inspiration for a topic or are stressed to get a high grade. We are here to help 24/7/365 to get you out of a jam and write your papers for you in your time of need. So reach out to us, and we are here to help.

Tips to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

compare and contrast principles

If you’re wondering how to write a comparison essay fast, there are a few tricks to make the most of your time. Follow these steps professional writers use, and you’ll get your paper done to meet the tightest deadlines.

  • Brainstorm on a scratch pad : You may be used to using your computer for everything, but for organizing your ideas, old-fashioned scratch paper works best. Draw a side-by-side chart and start listing out the characteristics of your subjects. Mention all the pros and cons, physical characteristics, as well as processes and applications that each possesses.
  • Make sure to choose comparable subjects that will make sense to the reader.
  • Ensure that the thesis statement is strong and to the point.
  • Do good research and ensure that your arguments are clearly stated.
  • Build your outline of compare and contrast essay : You can start to compare and contrast essay outline with your data table. Check the required length of your paper and start building a paragraph structure that will meet any bullet points and suffice the word count. Be sure to start off with your most interesting points to keep the reader engaged.
  • Draft your paper : Be sure to include a catchy title that is on point with the contents of your work. As a general rule, try not to go over 12 words in your title. Also, note that the thesis statement for the comparison and contrast essay should relate to every section of your text.
  • Use  transitional words to make it easier for the reader to follow the arguments presented in your essay.

Transitional words and phrases are the connective tissues of an essay, ensuring the flow of ideas is seamless and readers can easily navigate the content. Especially crucial in compare and contrast essays, these transitions aid in clarifying comparisons or highlighting disparities. Words like “similarly,” “likewise,” and “equally” signal similarities between subjects, guiding the reader’s understanding of how two things align. Conversely, phrases such as “on the other hand,” “however,” and “in contrast” denote differences, emphasizing the distinct characteristics of each subject.

  • Review your work : Now, it’s time to smooth out some rough patches in your initial draft and fine-tune some sections. Pay special attention to retaining your paper’s focus and meeting all the task requirements. Many students get stuck in this phase and, while they’ve met the requirements, are not happy with the final product. In this case, a comparison essay to buy is a great alternative. Hiring a specialist in your subject is the best way to get a good grade.

There are various factors to consider, such as structure, format, and even finding the right resources. Fortunately, cheap essay writing services such as PapersOwl make the process much easier. Simply provide your instructions, and their professional writers will create an original paper for you.

Comparison Essay Format

Universities are real sticklers for formatting. This may seem like an annoyance for many students, but academic work should be consistent across disciplines to aid analysts in efficiently referencing work and applying it to their own studies. Depending on your course, you may be required to write a comparison essay in MLA format or APA. So armed with the latest style guide of your choice, let’s get down to how to write a good comparison essay outline.

Bringing It All Together

Comparing and contrasting is an intrinsic part of our daily decision-making. From choosing restaurants to assessing products, we inherently evaluate based on similarities and differences. Yet, when tasked with a formal compare and contrast essay in academia, many students falter. This guide aims to simplify the process, providing structure and clarity. Emphasizing the importance of a solid thesis, structured format, and the use of transitional phrases, it offers a blueprint for effective essay writing.

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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 3,104,621 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

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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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Compare And Contrast Essay

Cathy A.

Compare and Contrast Essay - An Ultimate Guide

18 min read

Published on: Feb 18, 2020

Last updated on: Mar 12, 2024

compare and contrast essay

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Best Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for Students

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline - Step by Step Guide

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Are you a student facing the challenge of writing a compare and contrast essay? 

This type of essay can be challenging, as it requires them to evaluate, analyze, and differentiate between various subjects. However, don't let this task intimidate you! 

In this blog, we will provide you with a step-by-step process for writing a compare and contrast essay. Our expert advice and practical tips will help you gain the confidence and skills needed to craft a compelling and well-organized essay.

So, let's get started!

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What is Compare and Contrast Essay?

According to the compare and contrast essay definition it is written to observe and evaluate the similarities and differences between two objects or subjects.

We compare things in our daily life to make choices. Hypothetically, if a person has a limited budget and goes shopping, he would compare things and make choices that will best suit him. 

To write a compare and contrast essay, you can combine two things, compare them, and form a claim.

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Purpose of a Compare and Contrast Essay

The purpose of the compare and contrast essay is:

  • To analyze similarities and differences between two or more subjects
  • To showcase your ability to critically examine and evaluate different aspects of the subjects
  • To enhance your analytical and critical thinking skills
  • To demonstrate your understanding of the subjects and their characteristics
  • To provide insights and draw meaningful conclusions from the comparisons
  • To engage readers by presenting thought-provoking comparisons and contrasts
  • To fulfill academic requirements and demonstrate your knowledge on the given topic.

A successful comparison paper will provide facts about both the subjects that the essay is about.

Want to learn more about this type of essay? Check out this informative video!

Types of Compare and Contrast Essay

When it comes to writing a compare and contrast essay, there are several types you can choose from. Each type has its unique approach and structure that will help you present your ideas effectively. 

Here are the most common types of compare and contrast essays.

Point-by-Point Comparison

The point-by-point comparison, also known as the alternating method, is where you compare and contrast the two subjects point by point. This method is effective when the subjects being compared have several similarities and differences. 

With this method, you can easily show how the two subjects are similar or different on a specific aspect. For instance, if you were comparing two cities, you can compare their climate, transportation, and lifestyle using this method.

Example:   Here's an example using this structure:


When it comes to choosing a pet, many people find themselves torn between two popular options: dogs and cats. While both can bring joy and companionship, the choice ultimately depends on factors such as lifestyle, finances, and individual preferences.


Dogs and cats are wonderful pets, but the ideal choice varies based on a person's lifestyle, financial situation, and the environment they live in.

Owning a dog or a cat can impact one's lifestyle differently.

Dogs require more attention and exercise, making them suitable for active individuals or families.
Dogs provide companionship and can be trained for various tasks and activities.

Cats are more independent and low-maintenance, making them a good fit for busy individuals or those with a calmer lifestyle.
Cats are generally easier to care for, requiring less outdoor activity and attention.

The financial aspects of owning a dog versus a cat can differ significantly.

Dogs often require higher upfront costs, including vaccinations, grooming, and training expenses.
Dogs may also have higher ongoing expenses, such as food and regular veterinary care.

Cats tend to have lower initial costs, with minimal grooming needs and lower vaccination expenses.
Cats generally require less food and veterinary care, resulting in lower ongoing expenses.


The living environment can influence the suitability of dogs and cats.

Dogs thrive in homes with yards or access to outdoor spaces for exercise and play.
Dogs may be better suited for suburban or rural areas with ample space.

Cats are more adaptable to different living environments, including apartments or small living spaces.
Cats can be indoor pets, making them suitable for urban areas or places with limited outdoor access.


In conclusion, the choice between owning a dog or a cat depends on various factors. Consider your lifestyle, financial capabilities, and living environment to determine which pet aligns best with your needs and preferences. Whether you choose a loyal and active dog or an independent and low-maintenance cat, the companionship and joy they bring into your life are immeasurable.

Block Comparison

The block comparison, also known as the subject-by-subject method, is where you present all the information about one subject and then move to the next subject. This method is effective when the subjects being compared have several significant differences. 

This method is often used for longer essays, and it can help you present your ideas in a clear and organized manner.

Example:  Here's an example using this block comparison:


When it comes to selecting a pet, many people are faced with the perennial question: dogs or cats? Both furry companions offer unique qualities and can bring joy to our lives. However, there are distinct differences between these two popular choices that can influence the decision-making process. By examining their characteristics in terms of temperament, care requirements, and interaction styles, one can make an informed choice that aligns with their preferences and lifestyle.


Choosing between a dog and a cat boils down to personal preference and lifestyle considerations. If you value companionship, energy, and an active lifestyle, a dog may be the perfect fit. On the other hand, if independence, lower energy levels, and a self-sufficient nature resonate with you, a cat might be the ideal choice. Remember to consider factors such as available time for exercise, grooming needs, and the level of interaction you desire. Ultimately, both dogs and cats can bring immense joy and become cherished members of our families.

Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

The outline shapes and provides meaning to the entire essay. It keeps the writer focused and on the right track throughout the writing process.

Here is the traditional compare and contrast essay outline:


A. Hook
B. Background Information
C. Thesis Statement


A. Topic Sentence - Aspect 1
B. Comparison Point 1
C. Comparison Point 2
D. Contrast Point 1
E. Contrast Point 2
F. Concluding Sentence


A. Topic Sentence - Aspect 2
B. Comparison Point 1
C. Comparison Point 2
D. Contrast Point 1
E. Contrast Point 2
F. Concluding Sentence


A. Topic Sentence - Aspect 3
B. Comparison Point 1
C. Comparison Point 2
D. Contrast Point 1
E. Contrast Point 2
F. Concluding Sentence


A. Restate Thesis Statement
B. Summarize Main Points
C. Concluding Thoughts

Check out this link if you need in depth compare and contrast essay outline ? 

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay?

Here are the steps to write a compare and contrast essay;











  • Picasso and Goya
  • Vegans and meat lovers
  • Extroverts and introverts
  • Catholicism and Protestantism
  • Generation X and Generation Y
  • Brainstorming - Brainstorm the similarities and differences between the chosen topics. Use a Venn diagram for your ease. It has overlapping circles that include the differences and similarities between both subjects.
  • Choosing the Structure -  Decide which structure will you use to present your ideas; alternating, blocking, or similarities and differences.
  • Create the Outline -  Before beginning with the writing process, create the outline for your essay.

The introduction is the first thing that a reader reads. The introduction informs the readers of what is discussed in the essay. The introductory paragraphs have three elements:

  • A hook -  is a statement used to grab the reader’s attention. It can be a sentence or two, which will be strictly related to the topic and kind of essay.
  • The major similarity or difference -  This is added to help the readers understand what is discussed in the essay. But everything is presented briefly.

Thesis statements can be difficult to write. It is important to have an understanding of a  thesis statement  and how to write it easily.

The main body of an essay is the section where all the gathered information is presented in a structured way. The body paragraphs are written to prove the thesis statement and the stance that a writer made about the topic.

Usually, this section has three paragraphs. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence that will work as a preview of what is going to be discussed in that particular paragraph.

In a compare and contrast essay, body paragraphs are connected by transition words. Words such as “similarly, in contrast to, however, both,” etc., are frequently used to combine the entire content, giving a logical flow to it.

The conclusion of a compare and contrast essay is the summed up final verdict of the writer. The major points are summarized in the concluding paragraph of an essay, and the thesis statement is restated. Make sure that you stick to the discussed ideas and do not add any new information here.

The last part of the writing process of an essay is its proofreading and revision. In this step, you go through your essay one more time to see if there are any mistakes and errors.

Make sure the vocabulary, grammar, spellings, citation, facts, syntax, format are accurate and appropriate. Also, check if the objects are carefully compared, contrasted, and written.

If you come across some errors, correct them before submitting the essay to your instructor.

Compare and Contrast Structure Words

Here are some examples of compare and contrast words:

Similarly 
Likewise
In the same way 
Compared to
Both 
Also 
Just like
In a similar vein 
Correspondingly 
Equally 
Similarly to

Conversely
On the other hand
In contrast
Unlike
Whereas
However
Nevertheless
In contrast to 
On the contrary
While
Yet

Compare and Contrast Essay Example

To give you a better understanding of compare and contrast essay concepts, we have gathered some useful examples.

Compare and Contrast Essay Template

Compare And Contrast Essay On City And Village Life

Compare And Contrast Essay On Cricket And Football

Compare And Contrast Essay On Summer And Winter

Compare And Contrast Essay About Traditional And Online Education

Thesis Statement For Compare And Contrast Essay

Learning through examples is a sure short way of learning effectively and in less time. Good  compare and contrast essay examples  will help you understand everything more quickly.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Here are some compare and contrast essay topics:

  • Online learning vs. traditional classroom learning: Which is more effective?
  • Vegetarianism vs. meat-eating: Which is better for your health?
  • High school vs. college: How are they different and similar?
  • Living in the city vs. living in the countryside: Which is better for your lifestyle?
  • Democracy vs. dictatorship: Which form of government is better for the people?
  • Public schools vs. private schools: Which offers a better education?
  • Traditional book reading vs. e-book reading: Which is more enjoyable and effective?
  • Online shopping vs. in-store shopping: Which is more convenient and cost-effective?
  • Dogs vs. cats: Which make better pets?
  • Working from home vs. working in an office: Which is more productive and efficient?

These are some good compare and contrast essay topics that will help you draft an amazing essay. 

 Visit this link if you need more amazing compare and contrast essay topics !

Tips to Write a Good Compare and Contrast Essay

When writing a compare and contrast essay, it's important to keep some tips in mind to ensure that your essay is effective and engaging. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Avoid generalizations: While it can be tempting to make sweeping generalizations about the subjects you're comparing, it's important to provide specific examples and evidence to support your claims.
  • Keep the focus on the subjects being compared: Your essay should be focused on the two (or more) subjects you are comparing and contrasting. Avoid going off on tangents or discussing unrelated topics.
  • Provide evidence to support your claims: Whether you are arguing that one subject is better than the other, it's important to use evidence to back up your claims. This could include examples, statistics, quotes, or other types of evidence.
  • Use transitional phrases: When moving from one subject to the other, use transitional phrases to make the connections clear. Examples of transitional phrases include "on the other hand," "in contrast," and "similarly."
  • Organize your essay effectively: Depending on the type of compare and contrast essay you're writing, you may need to use a point-by-point or block structure. Be sure to choose a structure that works for your topic, and use clear headings and subheadings to help organize your essay.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your essay is well-written and effective in communicating your ideas to your reader.

Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

Let's take a look at some potential pitfalls to avoid while writing your essay:

  • Not clearly identifying the basis for comparison - Without a clear basis for comparison, the essay may lack coherence and direction.
  • Not providing enough details - These essays require a level of detail that is sufficient to illustrate similarities and differences between the subjects being compared.
  • Choosing subjects that are too different - It can be challenging to compare and contrast subjects that are too dissimilar, leading to a weak essay.
  • Focusing only on differences - While it is important to highlight differences between the subjects, ignoring similarities can lead to an imbalanced essay.
  • Failing to use transitions - Without transitional phrases, the essay may seem disjointed and difficult to follow.
  • Not using a consistent structure - Compare and contrast essays require a consistent structure, such as point-by-point or block method, to maintain clarity and organization.
  • Being too subjective - While it is important to express your opinion, be sure to present objective evidence to support your claims.
  • Ignoring formatting and citation guidelines - Failure to adhere to formatting and citation guidelines can result in plagiarism or lower grades.
  • Not proofreading carefully - Typos, grammar errors, and spelling mistakes can detract from the overall quality of the essay.

Here's a compare and contrast essay checklist:

The introduction presents the topics and thesis statement 



Body paragraphs cover all relevant comparisons and contrasts

Clear and consistent organization of information 



Supporting evidence and examples for each point 



Logical and smooth transitions between paragraphs 



Conclusion restates the thesis and summarizes key points 



Proper citation and formatting (if required) 



Proofread for grammar and spelling errors 



Followed any specific instructions or guidelines

The Bottom Line!

We hope that this guide has provided you with valuable insights and techniques for writing a successful compare and contrast essay. With the right approach, this type of essay can be an exciting opportunity to explore similarities and differences between two subjects.

If you need further assistance or want to ensure that your essay meets the highest standards, don't hesitate to reach out to us at CollegeEssay.org . 

Our compare and contrast essay writing service makes academic life easier for students by providing the best essays written by skilled professionals. 

We offer the best professional essay writing service to students and provide them with expert guidance to help them achieve academic success. 

Contact our essay writing service today and let our college essay writer help you take the first step towards acing your compare and contrast essay! However, if you are on a budget and don't have time to hire a writer, we have just the solution for that. Use our AI essay writer to get plagiarism-free content within a few minutes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good example of compare and contrast.

A good example of a compare and contrast essay is to compare and contrast two different types of pets, such as dogs and cats. Both pets are popular but have distinct differences in behavior, care, and interaction with their owners.

How do you start a compare and contrast essay example?

To start a compare and contrast essay, begin by choosing two subjects to compare and contrast. Then, brainstorm similarities and differences between the two subjects and create a thesis statement that outlines the main points of comparison and contrast.

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how to write an essay on similarities and differences

  • Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

This section will help you determine the purpose and structure of comparison/contrast in writing.

The Purpose of Compare/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.

The Structure of a Compare/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

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.

Phrases of Comparison and Contrast

one similarity

one difference
another similarity another difference
both conversely
like in contrast
likewise unlike
similarly while
in a similar fashion whereas

Writing an Compare/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.

Compare/Contrast Essay Example

Comparing and Contrasting London and Washington, DC

By Scott McLean in Writing for Success

Both Washington, DC, and London are capital cities of English-speaking countries, and yet they offer vastly different experiences to their residents and visitors. Comparing and contrasting the two cities based on their history, their culture, and their residents show how different and similar the two are.

Both cities are rich in world and national history, though they developed on very different time lines. London, for example, has a history that dates back over two thousand years. It was part of the Roman Empire and known by the similar name, Londinium. It was not only one of the northernmost points of the Roman Empire but also the epicenter of the British Empire where it held significant global influence from the early sixteenth century on through the early twentieth century. Washington, DC, on the other hand, has only formally existed since the late eighteenth century. Though Native Americans inhabited the land several thousand years earlier, and settlers inhabited the land as early as the sixteenth century, the city did not become the capital of the United States until the 1790s. From that point onward to today, however, Washington, DC, has increasingly maintained significant global influence. Even though both cities have different histories, they have both held, and continue to hold, significant social influence in the economic and cultural global spheres.

Both Washington, DC, and London offer a wide array of museums that harbor many of the world’s most prized treasures. While Washington, DC, has the National Gallery of Art and several other Smithsonian galleries, London’s art scene and galleries have a definite edge in this category. From the Tate Modern to the British National Gallery, London’s art ranks among the world’s best. This difference and advantage has much to do with London and Britain’s historical depth compared to that of the United States. London has a much richer past than Washington, DC, and consequently has a lot more material to pull from when arranging its collections. Both cities have thriving theater districts, but again, London wins this comparison, too, both in quantity and quality of theater choices. With regard to other cultural places like restaurants, pubs, and bars, both cities are very comparable. Both have a wide selection of expensive, elegant restaurants as well as a similar amount of global and national chains. While London may be better known for its pubs and taste in beer, DC offers a different bar-going experience. With clubs and pubs that tend to stay open later than their British counterparts, the DC night life tend to be less reserved overall.

Both cities also share and differ in cultural diversity and cost of living. Both cities share a very expensive cost of living—both in terms of housing and shopping. A downtown one-bedroom apartment in DC can easily cost $1,800 per month, and a similar “flat” in London may double that amount. These high costs create socioeconomic disparity among the residents. Although both cities’ residents are predominantly wealthy, both have a significantly large population of poor and homeless. Perhaps the most significant difference between the resident demographics is the racial makeup. Washington, DC, is a “minority majority” city, which means the majority of its citizens are races other than white. In 2009, according to the US Census, 55 percent of DC residents were classified as “Black or African American” and 35 percent of its residents were classified as “white.” London, by contrast, has very few minorities—in 2006, 70 percent of its population was “white,” while only 10 percent was “black.” The racial demographic differences between the cities is drastic.

Even though Washington, DC, and London are major capital cities of English-speaking countries in the Western world, they have many differences along with their similarities. They have vastly different histories, art cultures, and racial demographics, but they remain similar in their cost of living and socioeconomic disparity.

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.
  • Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : http://lumenlearning.com/ . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Successful Writing. Provided by : Anonymous. Located at : http://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/successful-writing/s14-07-comparison-and-contrast.html . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Comparing and Contrasting London and Washington, DC. Authored by : Scott McLean. Located at : http://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/successful-writing/s14-07-comparison-and-contrast.html . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Table of Contents

Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)

  • Overview of Instructor Resources

An Overview of the Writing Process

  • Introduction to the Writing Process
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Your Role as a Learner
  • What is an Essay?
  • Reading to Write
  • Defining the Writing Process
  • Videos: Prewriting Techniques
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organizing an Essay
  • Creating Paragraphs
  • Conclusions
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
  • Peer Review Checklist
  • Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies

Using Sources

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
  • Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
  • APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

Definition Essay

  • Definitional Argument Essay
  • How to Write a Definition Essay
  • Critical Thinking
  • Video: Thesis Explained
  • Effective Thesis Statements
  • Student Sample: Definition Essay

Narrative Essay

  • Introduction to Narrative Essay
  • Student Sample: Narrative Essay
  • "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
  • "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
  • Video: The Danger of a Single Story
  • How to Write an Annotation
  • How to Write a Summary
  • Writing for Success: Narration

Illustration/Example Essay

  • Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
  • "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
  • "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
  • Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
  • Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay

Compare/Contrast Essay

  • Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
  • "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
  • "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
  • "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
  • Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay

Cause-and-Effect Essay

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
  • "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
  • Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
  • Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay

Argument Essay

  • Introduction to Argument Essay
  • Rogerian Argument
  • "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
  • "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
  • How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
  • Writing for Success: Argument
  • Student Sample: Argument Essay
  • Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
  • Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
  • Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
  • Mini-lesson: Fragments I
  • Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
  • Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
  • Mini-lesson: Parallelism
  • Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
  • Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
  • Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
  • De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
  • Style Exercise: Voice

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Published September 27, 2020. Updated May 4, 2022.

Compare and Contrast Essay Definition

A compare and contrast essay discusses similarities and differences between two subjects. The discussion shows the writer’s deep understanding of both subjects.

Overview of a Compare and Contrast Essay

  • Choose what two subjects to compare and contrast.
  • Brainstorm similarities and differences between the two subjects.
  • Develop a thesis statement and write an introduction.
  • Write an analysis, using the block method or the point-by-point method.
  • Write a conclusion.

This page will cover the following points:

Key Takeaways

What is a compare and contrast essay, step 1: choose what to compare and contrast, step 2: brainstorm similarities and differences, step 3: write an introduction and a thesis, step 4: use block method or point-to-point, step 5: write a conclusion.

  • Why Do Teachers Assign Compare and Contrast Essays?
  • A compare and contrast essay discusses the similarities and differences between two subjects to show a deep understanding of both.
  • Pick subjects and points that are relevant to your class .
  • Use your essay’s thesis statement to show the reader why the similarities and differences are important.
  • Choose whether you’d like to focus on one subject at a time ( block method ) or move back and forth between subjects ( point-to-point method ).
  • A  compare and contrast essay outline includes a full thesis statement and uses appropriate structure ( block method or point-to-point ).
  • A  thesis statement is the foundation of an essay, listing your paper’s main comparisons and explaining why they’re important.
  • With  block structure , you dedicate each body paragraph to one of your two subjects.
  • With  point-to-point , you dedicate each body paragraph to one of your main points about both subjects.

A compare and contrast essay discusses the similarities and differences between two subjects. This shows a deep understanding of both subjects.

Sometimes, instructors ask students to weigh the positives and negatives of both subjects, choose which subject is better, and defend their position. Read the essay prompt carefully!

Worried about your writing? Submit your paper for a Chegg Writing essay check , or for an Expert Check proofreading . Both can help you find and fix potential writing issues.

In some classes, your instructor will tell you which two subjects to focus on. They’ll usually pick topics discussed in lectures.

For example, in an American literature course, your instructor may ask you to compare and contrast two writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Both were part of the same literary movement (the Beat Generation) but still had unique styles and priorities.

Your instructor may let you choose your subjects. Pick two people, things, or ideas discussed in class with clear differences but something in common, too.

Let’s say, for example, your class is talking about pizza (what a great class, right?). You’ll want to choose two subjects in that category that are comparable, such as New York-style pizza and Chicago deep-dish pizza. Both are types of pizza, and they both mean a lot to certain American cities.

You can also find ways to contrast these two pizzas. They both have a distinct shape and are eaten differently (try eating deep-dish pizza with your hands!).

Although your class probably isn’t talking about pizza, the point here is to pick two subjects that:

  • Your instructor or textbook discussed.
  • You feel confident about and which have several important similarities and differences.

But how will you know if any given similarity or difference is important ? In the next section, you’ll brainstorm your essay’s main points and pick the ones that are most appropriate for your class.

By now, you’ve chosen (or were told) your two subjects. Next, it’s time to think about what differences and similarities your paper should focus on.

Since this brainstorming session is just for you, feel free to use whichever method you prefer. Some people like to use Venn diagrams to organize their thoughts. Others prefer a T-chart or just jotting ideas down.

Not all compare and contrast points are made equal. Think about what your instructor has talked about in class so far. Then, decide which points would sound the most appropriate for your course.

This is also a good time to revisit the prompt. Your instructor may have already hinted at what they’d like you to discuss in the instructions.

Here’s an example of a brainstorming session about New York- and Chicago-style pizza. Let’s figure out which of these compare and contrast points would be best for the paper:

Point #1: Because of the size, often sold by the slice, it is a quick fast-food option Point #1: Mostly sold by the pie, making it more common for “sit-down” restaurants or at-home cooking
Point #2: Hand-tossed crust Point #2: Thick, deep crust
Point #3: Important for NYC’s identity Point #3: Important for Chicago’s identity
Point #4: Many restaurants nearby make it Point #4: Many restaurants nearby make it

After brainstorming, you have four very different points for your pizza paper. Each could be helpful, depending on the class.

If the class is about local history, then the last point, “many restaurants nearby make it,” will be useful. If not, then that point is likely the least relevant.

Meanwhile, a class about United States history will care deeply about how these different foods helped shape the identity of Chicago and New York City, respectively (point #3).

Points #1 and #2 talk about the size and shape of the pizza. These would be great choices for a home economics class, where the preparation and presentation of the dish are important.

Whichever points you choose for your compare and contrast essay, make sure they make sense and seem relevant to your class. Never throw in an extra point just to reach the word count for the paper. Your instructor will be able to tell!

Once you have three or four relevant points for your compare and contrast essay, it’s time to write the thesis statement. This will tell your instructor why these similarities and differences are important and worth talking about in an essay.

The introduction is where you’ll tell your audience what your two subjects are. You’ll also discuss the main ways you plan to compare and contrast them.

One of the most important parts of your introduction (and the whole paper) is your thesis statement. The thesis is the main argument of your essay.

Why should someone care about the similarities and differences between these two subjects? That’s the question your thesis statement should answer.

Let’s think, for example, about the New York- and Chicago-style pizza essay. Why should your instructor care about comparing and contrasting these two pizza types?

Here’s an example thesis statement for that paper:

Both New York-style and Chicago deep-dish pizza are important to the identities of their respective cities. However, the fast, portable nature of by-the-slice New York-style pizza makes it easier for the average New Yorker to eat frequently than does the deep-dish pizza for Chicago residents.

This thesis statement not only points out differences and similarities between the pizzas but also begins to say why those differences matter. Remember that the rest of your paper should support the points made in your thesis statement and address important questions.

For example, in the pizza-paper thesis, common questions might include:

What makes New York-style pizza more portable? In what ways are these pizzas important to each city’s identity?

Now, you have a compelling thesis statement for your paper ready to go. Next, you’ll spend some time thinking about how you want to present the similarities and differences between your two subjects.

Would you like to talk about one subject at a time? Or would you prefer to switch between the two to better highlight their differences?

In the next section, you’ll learn the pros and cons of both of these styles. Then, you’ll decide which one is right for your paper.

Here’s what a well-outlined introduction looks like:

– Begin with a lighthearted discussion about the centuries-long debate over cats and dogs.

– Thesis statement: Cats and dogs have varying activity levels, maintenance needs, and ways of showing affection, which potential owners should keep in mind before deciding between the two.

There are many ways to format your compare and contrast paper. But to keep things simple, let’s focus on the two most popular strategies.

With the block method , you make all your points about subject #1 before switching to subject #2. You may dedicate one or even two full paragraphs to the first subject before comparing it with the second one.

Here’s an example outline for a block method essay:

Paragraph 1: Introduction

P2: Subject #1

P3: Subject #1 (continued)

P4: Subject #2

P5: Subject #2 (continued)

P6: Conclusion

There are pros and cons to each method. The main benefit of the block method is that it is easy to keep your paper organized. Because you’re only discussing one subject at a time, your instructor can easily tell what you’re talking about.

There are still cons to this structure, though. For example, it will be harder for your audience to remember the points you made about subject #1 when you finally get to subject #2.

If you want to more closely compare and contrast your two subjects, you’ll want to use the point-to-point approach.

With point-to-point, you’ll dedicate each of your body paragraphs to a similarity or difference between the two subjects. You’ll compare and contrast both subjects in each body paragraph.

Let’s take a look at an outline organized for the point-to-point method:

P2: Similarity #1

P3: Similarity #2

P4: Difference #1

P5: Difference #2

The main benefit of point-to-point is that the similarities and differences between your two subjects will be more clear. After all, you’re going back and forth between the two at all times.

Because you are switching so often, though, you’ll want to write very clearly. Be sure to use plenty of transition words, which you’ll learn more about in the next section. Otherwise, your instructor may lose track of what you’re discussing.

Both of these methods will work with most compare and contrast essays. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you feel your subjects would be better discussed one at a time (block method) or back and forth (point-to-point).

Template on block structure and point-to-point examples

Transition words for a compare and contrast essay.

In a compare and contrast essay, you’ll be discussing at least two different subjects throughout the paper. That’s why it’s helpful to use transition words. These words will let your audience know when you’re moving on to a new topic or directly contrasting two ideas.

Here are some useful transition words for compare and contrast essays:

  • in contrast

As you can guess, some of these words (ex: “similarly” and “likewise”) help you compare your two subjects. Here’s an example:

Pizza-by-the-slice places are an iconic image of New York City. Similarly , visitors to Chicago make it a point to find a deep-dish pizza restaurant.

Other transition words (ex: “in contrast” and “unlike”) point to an important difference. Let’s try one out:

Unlike New York-style pizza, which can be enjoyed on the go, Chicago deep-dish pizza is suited better for a traditional, sit-down restaurant.

Use these and other transition words to make your points more clear. Try using different transition words throughout your paper, such as using “similarly” once and then “likewise” the next time. That way, you can avoid monotonous sentences.

By the time you reach the conclusion of a compare and contrast paper, you’ve already done a lot of planning and writing. It’s completely understandable if you feel a bit burned out.

Like many other papers, you’ll want to use the conclusion of your compare and contrast essay to remind your instructor of your main points. But it’s also important not to copy and paste your introduction into the conclusion.

Try to find a new, eye-catching way to transition back into your main points and restate your thesis. Here’s an example for the New York- and Chicago-style pizzas:

In the season 2 episode of The Office (US), “Valentine’s Day,” Michael Scott visits downtown New York City and immediately runs into a Sbarro’s restaurant for a “New York slice.” The scene is a joke about Michael’s naïveté. But it also points to how second nature New York-style pizza is for experiencing the area. Both New York-style and Chicago deep-dish pizza hold a special place in their city’s identities…

As always, make sure whatever you write is appropriate for your class. With a topic as light-hearted as pizza, a quick The Office reference fits right in. But in other essays, a pop culture reference would be distracting.

Here’s an example of an outline for a conclusion:

– Talk about famous cats and dogs in pop culture and their personalities, like Chloe and Max from The Secret Life of Pets .

–  Restate thesis: From the palaces of Ancient Egypt to the condos of modern-day New York City, both cats and dogs have long been revered for their companionship. Potential owners should consider cats and dogs’ varying activity levels, grooming needs, and ways of showing affection before deciding which pet is right for them.

Use your conclusion to reinforce the points made throughout the paper. Adding anecdotes like the one above can make your paper stand out and keep the attention of your instructor. It’s also a way to let them know that you took the assignment seriously from the beginning to the very end.

Example Compare and Contrast Essay on J azz vs. Rock

Before you turn in that paper, don’t forget to cite your sources in APA format , MLA format , or a style of your choice.

Why Do Teachers assign Compare and Contrast Essays?

In many cases, your instructor assigns compare and contrast papers to test your comprehension of two subjects, as well as to see how well you understand authors, historical periods, or other concepts discussed in class.

Planning and writing these essays can be intimidating at first. In this guide, though, you’ll find helpful tips, from the first brainstorming session all the way to wrapping up the conclusion.

Published August 19, 2020.

By James Ardis. James is a writer who earned his MFA in Poetry from the University of Mississippi. He’s also taught English as a Second Language in South Korea, Thailand, and to refugees living in America.

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Comparing and Contrasting

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how to write an essay on similarities and differences

The professor says to compare and contrast A and B ...

Determining the Structure of your Essay:

Determining the structure of your essay is the most important step towards conducting and presenting to the reader a well-developed comparison. Students are often asked to compare things in twos. For example, compare these two articles, or two characters in a novel, or a film and a novel or an article and a poem... The possibilities are endless.

When you are faced with the task of having to compare and contrast, it can be overwhelming. You're thinking about two pieces of writing that you know are different, and perhaps there are some similarities, too, but how can you suddenly start talking about them both?  Which one should I talk about first? Which one should I talk about last?

Sometimes, comparisons are done in the following manner:

You pick one article to describe:  Article A.  Then you talk about  Article B.  Perhaps at the end, you talk about the similarities in both articles.

This format will consist of three main parts: A, B, and, finally, their similarities.

Although this format is an acceptable way of making comparisons, and it is sometimes used to present well-developed "compare and contrast" essays, the format has its weaknesses that can jeopardize an effective comparison.

What could happen when you use this format and you completely isolate  Article A  from  Article B  is that you make it more difficult to compare. Your final essay might end up divided in two parts: half of the paper talks about only  Article A  and the second half talks about only  Article B . You do not want to split your essay into a description of  Article A  and a description of  Article B  because then it will be harder to compare them since you invested most of your energy into describing them and not comparing them.

How to avoid the "Split Essay": A Second Option for Comparison

The best way to avoid the Split Essay is to unify both split ends. Do not discuss  Article B  at the end. Talk about  both A and B  from the beginning. The question now is:

What do I do to eliminate the Split?

Break it down:

You do not get rid of the gap between the two halves of the essay that are split. You simply  break it down . This is done by finding common themes, or points of comparison in  Article A and Article B.  Once you find those points of comparison, you can discuss each individual theme and how each shows up in  Article A and B . Consider the following questions:

  • What major themes are discussed in each of the essays?
  • What doe the writer of  Article A  say about the first theme, and how is this similar to or different than what the writer of  Article B  says about the same topic?
  • What conclusions can you make about these differences or similarities?

After developing a thorough explanation of the first theme, you can mow move on to discuss the second theme that appears in both essays and write about it. Ideally, each theme will be discussed thoroughly in its own paragraph, explaining how each is similar or different in  Article A  and  Article B

During the seventies, Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote his most famous novel,  One Hundred Years of Solitude , in which he discussed themes regarding the solitude of Latin America.

In 1982, Marquez received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel and wrote a speech for this occasion. In his speech, he called attention to Latin American economic struggles and their historical context.

In 1990, Enrique Krauze, a Mexican economist, published an article in which he discussed the same topic: problems in Latin American economics.

The prompt says:

Compare and contrast Enrique Krauze's essay to the speech written by Marquez.

Possible approaches:

Option #1: Text by text comparison

First paragraph:

A: An explanation of Marquez's entire speech

Second paragraph:

B: An explanation of Krauze's entire essay

Third paragraph:

Similarities or differences

(this might lead to the "Split Essay" comparison)

Option #2: Point by point comparison

The breakdown: Finding common themes or points of comparison:

• Neoliberalism (free trade)

• US involvement

• Proposed solutions to the problems (macro or micro economy?)

A: Krauze's opinion on neoliberalism

B: Marquez's opinion on neoliberalism

A: US involvement good or bad? According to Marquez

B: US involvement good or bad? According to Krauze

Whatever other theme that stands out as significant for explaining the differences of opinions.

Sample paragraph:

          Enrique Krauze and Gabriel Garcia Marquez take different positions in regards to the implementation of more neoliberalist policies in Latin American countries. While Krauze argues the need to expand open trade in Latin America to improve its economy, Marquez opposes this idea and argues that an open trade economy would only aid foreign investors in further exploiting the natural resources in Latin America. Krauze's support of neoliberalism is based on the idea that through a macro economy, the "undeveloped" countries will soon see the light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand, Marquez rebuts this argument, claiming that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which forced neoliberalist policies onto Latin American countries, only served to increase their foreign debt.

Notice how the beginning of this paragraph discusses only one theme: neoliberalism. Also notice how the writer was able to incorporate both articles and not just one. Pay attention, too, to the use of words and phrases that juxtapose or suggest comparison. These words establish links between  A  and  B .

Handout created by Rubén Garibaldo, Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley

©2006 UC Regents

Handout revised by Carolyn Swalina, Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley

©2011 UC Regents

  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Examples

Compare and Contrast

Ai generator.

Compare and Contrast is a method to examine similarities and differences between subjects, ideas, or objects. By identifying commonalities and divergences, this approach deepens understanding and highlights unique qualities. It’s essential in literature, education, and science, fostering critical thinking and analysis. This technique is frequently used in Compare Contrast Essay , Comparison Contrast Essay , and Comparative Essay writing.

What is Compare and Contrast?

Compare and contrast is a method of analyzing similarities and differences between two or more subjects, ideas, events, or objects. This technique is commonly used in writing, particularly in essays and research papers, to help readers understand relationships between items being compared.

Examples of Compare and Contrast

  • Similarity: Both are popular pets and can provide companionship.
  • Difference: Cats are more independent, while dogs require more attention and exercise.
  • Similarity: Both are used for personal transportation.
  • Difference: Electric cars use batteries and are more environmentally friendly, while gasoline cars run on fossil fuels and have a wider range.
  • Similarity: Both allow consumers to purchase goods and services.
  • Difference: Online shopping offers convenience and a broader selection, while in-store shopping allows for physical inspection of products.
  • Similarity: Both provide educational opportunities for students.
  • Difference: Public schools are funded by the government and free for students, while private schools charge tuition and may offer specialized programs.
  • Similarity: Both are seasons that bring changes in weather and activities.
  • Difference: Summer is typically hot with longer days, while winter is cold with shorter days.
  • Similarity: Both can tell stories and provide entertainment.
  • Difference: Books require imagination and are often more detailed, while movies provide visual and auditory experiences.
  • Similarity: Both offer unique lifestyles and community structures.
  • Difference: Urban living is characterized by a fast-paced environment with more amenities, while rural living is quieter with more open space and nature.
  • Similarity: Both are types of personal computers used for various tasks.
  • Difference: Macs are known for their sleek design and user-friendly interface, while PCs offer more customization options and are generally more affordable.
  • Similarity: Both are two-wheeled vehicles used for transportation.
  • Difference: Bicycles are human-powered and environmentally friendly, while motorcycles are motor-powered and faster.
  • Similarity: Both are popular beverages enjoyed worldwide.
  • Difference: Tea is often lighter and has less caffeine, while coffee is stronger and more stimulating.
  • Similarity: Both are used to disseminate information and connect with audiences.
  • Difference: Social media is interactive and allows real-time engagement, while traditional media is one-way and has a longer production cycle.
  • Similarity: Both are portable electronic devices used for communication and entertainment.
  • Difference: Smartphones are more compact and used primarily for calls and messaging, while tablets have larger screens and are better for media consumption.
  • Similarity: Both are literary genres found in books and other media.
  • Difference: Fiction is based on imaginative storytelling, while non-fiction is based on factual information and real events.
  • Similarity: Both aim to educate students and follow a curriculum.
  • Difference: Traditional classes require physical attendance, while online classes can be attended remotely.
  • Similarity: Both provide meals and can be enjoyable experiences.
  • Difference: Cooking at home is often cheaper and allows for customization, while dining out offers convenience and a wider variety of dishes.

Compare and Contrast Examples Sentences

  • Jeans are casual and durable, while dress pants are formal and suitable for professional settings.
  • Coffee is strong and energizing, while tea is lighter and often calming.
  • Hiking offers scenic views and varied terrain, while running is typically done on flat surfaces and focuses more on cardiovascular fitness.
  • Paperback books provide a tactile reading experience, whereas e-books are portable and can store thousands of titles.
  • Pizza is typically enjoyed as a slice with various toppings, while pasta comes in many shapes and is often served with a variety of sauces.
  • Credit cards allow for borrowing money up to a limit, while debit cards withdraw directly from your bank account.
  • Football involves strategic plays and physical contact on a large field, while basketball is fast-paced with constant movement on a smaller court.
  • Morning routines set the tone for the day and often include exercise, while evening routines help unwind and prepare for sleep.
  • Reading involves visual engagement with text, while abooks allow for auditory learning and can be enjoyed while multitasking.
  • SUVs offer more cargo space and off-road capability, while sedans are typically more fuel-efficient and easier to maneuver.
  • Public transportation reduces environmental impact and is cost-effective, while personal vehicles provide convenience and flexibility.
  • Yoga focuses on flexibility and mindfulness, whereas Pilates emphasizes core strength and controlled movements.
  • Baking is done indoors and often involves precise measurements, while grilling is typically done outdoors and allows for more improvisation.
  • Classical music is known for its orchestral arrangements and complexity, while rock music is characterized by electric guitars and a strong beat.
  • Laptops are portable and ideal for on-the-go use, while desktops offer more power and easier upgrades for stationary use.

Comparison and Contrast Examples Paragraph

  • City Life vs. Country Life : City life offers vibrant cultural activities and numerous job opportunities, whereas country life provides tranquility and a close connection to nature.
  • Online Learning vs. Traditional Classroom Learning : Online learning offers flexibility and convenience, while traditional classroom learning provides face-to-face interaction and a structured environment.
  • Public Transportation vs. Driving a Car : Public transportation is cost-effective and eco-friendly, whereas driving a car offers privacy and the convenience of traveling on your own schedule.
  • Reading Books vs. Watching Movies : Reading books allows for deeper engagement with the text and imagination, while watching movies offers a visual and auditory experience that can bring stories to life quickly.
  • Mac vs. PC : Macs are known for their sleek design and user-friendly interface, whereas PCs are praised for their versatility and compatibility with a wide range of software.

Comparison and Contrast Examples for Essays

  • Compare and contrast the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in terms of their cultural impact and intellectual developments.
  • Compare and contrast the themes of love and sacrifice in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights.”
  • Compare and contrast democracy and authoritarianism, focusing on their governance structures and impact on individual rights.
  • Compare and contrast traditional classroom learning with online education, analyzing their effectiveness, accessibility, and learning outcomes.
  • Compare and contrast traditional marketing strategies with digital marketing techniques, examining their reach, cost-effectiveness, and audience engagement.

These topics can provide a solid foundation for discussing similarities and differences, allowing for a thorough analysis and exploration in your essays.

Comparison and Contrast thesis Statement Examples

  • Smartphones vs. Traditional Phones : Smartphones offer multifunctional capabilities and instant access to information, whereas traditional phones are simpler and primarily used for voice communication.
  • Fast Food vs. Home-Cooked Meals : Fast food is convenient and time-saving, while home-cooked meals are healthier and allow for more control over ingredients.
  • Public School vs. Private School : Public schools offer diverse environments and are funded by the government, whereas private schools often provide smaller class sizes and specialized curriculums at a higher cost.
  • Books vs. Movies : Books allow for deeper exploration of characters and plot, while movies provide a visual and auditory experience that brings stories to life quickly.
  • Summer vs. Winter Vacations : Summer vacations often include outdoor activities and beach trips, while winter vacations focus on indoor entertainment and winter sports.

Difference between Compare and Contrast

Here’s a comparison table outlining the differences between “Compare” and “Contrast”:

Highlighting similarities between two or more subjects.Pointing out differences between two or more subjects.
Emphasizes commonalities.Emphasizes differences.
To show how things are alike.To show how things are different.
Often uses comparative phrases like “similarly,” “also,” etc.Uses contrasting phrases like “however,” “on the other hand.”
Enhances understanding of shared traits.Enhances understanding of distinctions.
Comparing the features of two smartphone models.Contrasting the political ideologies of two leaders.
Venn diagrams are commonly used.Tables or lists can be effective.

Importance of Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast is an essential cognitive process and academic skill that serves several important purposes:

  • Critical Thinking Development: Engaging in comparison and contrast requires students to analyze information, identify similarities and differences, and make reasoned judgments. This process promotes critical thinking by encouraging deeper analysis rather than surface-level understanding.
  • Enhanced Understanding: Comparing and contrasting helps clarify concepts and ideas by highlighting their similarities and differences. This method deepens understanding by forcing students to examine details, contexts, and implications.
  • Promotion of Higher Order Skills: It encourages the development of higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These skills are crucial for academic success and lifelong learning.
  • Effective Communication: The ability to compare and contrast effectively enhances communication skills. Whether in writing or verbal discussions, this skill allows individuals to articulate their ideas clearly and persuasively, drawing on structured comparisons to support their arguments.
  • Decision-Making and Problem-Solving: Comparing options and contrasting their attributes is fundamental to effective decision-making and problem-solving in various contexts, from personal choices to professional strategies.
  • Promotion of Diversity and Tolerance: By examining similarities and differences among cultures, beliefs, and perspectives, comparison and contrast foster empathy, tolerance, and appreciation for diversity.

FAQ’s

How do you structure a compare and contrast essay.

Start with an introduction, followed by body paragraphs comparing and contrasting, and end with a conclusion.

What are some compare and contrast essay topics?

Examples include comparing two books, historical events, or different theories.

What words signal a compare and contrast structure?

Words like “similarly,” “on the other hand,” and “however.”

What is the purpose of using a Venn diagram?

It visually represents similarities and differences between two or more subjects.

What is the difference between compare and contrast?

Comparing focuses on similarities; contrasting focuses on differences.

What are some strategies to organize a comparison?

Use point-by-point or subject-by-subject methods.

What are the benefits of using compare and contrast in education?

It aids in understanding complex topics and developing analytical skills.

What is a compare and contrast paragraph?

It discusses similarities and differences between two or more subjects in a concise format.

How do you avoid bias when comparing and contrasting?

Present facts objectively and consider multiple perspectives.

What are some common pitfalls in compare and contrast essays?

Overemphasizing similarities or differences without critical analysis.

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

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COMMENTS

  1. Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

    In the block method, you cover each of the overall subjects you're comparing in a block. You say everything you have to say about your first subject, then discuss your second subject, making comparisons and contrasts back to the things you've already said about the first. Your text is structured like this: Subject 1.

  2. Comparing and Contrasting

    This handout will help you first to determine whether a particular assignment is asking for comparison/contrast and then to generate a list of similarities and differences, decide which similarities and differences to focus on, and organize your paper so that it will be clear and effective. It will also explain how you can (and why you should ...

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

    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.

  4. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

    This kind of essay, often assigned in middle school and high school, teaches students about the analytical writing process and prepares them for more advanced forms of academic writing. Compare and contrast essays are relatively easy to write if you follow a simple step-by-step approach. Compare and contrast essays examine topics from multiple ...

  5. 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 ...

  6. The Comparative Essay

    A comparative essay asks that you compare at least two (possibly more) items. These items will differ depending on the assignment. You might be asked to compare. Although the assignment may say "compare," the assumption is that you will consider both the similarities and differences; in other words, you will compare and contrast.

  7. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

    Brainstorm the similarities and differences between your chosen subjects. Choose a structure for your essay and plan how you will write it. Write up your comparison and use evidence to support your argument. Revise and proofread your essay to make sure it is perfect. For more advice on each stage, check out our guide below. 1.

  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. 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 ...

  10. Ultimate Guide to Writing a Comparison Essay: Tips and Examples

    Make sure they have enough similarities and differences to make a meaningful comparison. 2. Brainstorm key points: Once you have chosen the subjects, brainstorm the key points you want to compare and contrast. These could include characteristics, features, themes, or arguments related to each subject. 3.

  11. 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:

  12. 4.1: Introduction to Comparison and Contrast Essay

    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. ...

  13. Writing Comparative Essays: Making Connections to Illuminate Ideas

    Here are some tips, with student examples to illustrate each. 1. Make sure you're focusing on a manageable theme or idea. One of the first ways to get on the wrong track in writing a comparative ...

  14. 7.1: The Compare/Contrast Essay

    7.1: The Compare/Contrast Essay - Similarities and Differences Come to Light. Think of the Compare/Contrast essay as a bridge between both the Personal Essay and the Issues (Research) Essay. To begin, we often compare and contrast things in our everyday lives—what gas station to go to, what to major in, which job is better, etc.

  15. How to Write a Comparison Essay: From Similarities to Differences

    4.1 Comparison Essay Outline Example. 5 Tips to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay. 5.1 Comparison Essay Format. 6 Bringing It All Together. As we navigate our lives, we can't help but notice the elements in our environment, whether it's the latest car, a fashion trend, or even some experiences. Think about your favorite Mexican restaurant ...

  16. 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.

  17. Compare & Contrast Essay

    A compare and contrast essay does two things: It discusses the similarities and differences of at least two different things. First, you must find a basis of comparison to be sure that the two things have enough in common. After that, you identify their differences. You may structure the compare and contrast essay using either the alternating ...

  18. Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

    Here are the steps to write a compare and contrast essay; Choose a Good Topic - When choosing the topic, make sure that you choose those topics that are different but somewhat similar in nature. Here are some examples to give you a better idea; Picasso and Goya. Vegans and meat lovers. Extroverts and introverts.

  19. Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast

    The Structure of a Compare/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 ...

  20. How to Write a Compare & Contrast Essay

    Follow these essential steps to write an effective compare and contrast essay: Choose what two subjects to compare and contrast. Brainstorm similarities and differences between the two subjects. Develop a thesis statement and write an introduction. Write an analysis, using the block method or the point-by-point method.

  21. Compare & Contrast Essay

    A compare and contrast essay describes a relationship between two subjects in terms of points of similarities (comparisons) and differences (contrasts). The essay can be structured according to:

  22. Comparing and Contrasting

    Compare and contrast Enrique Krauze's essay to the speech written by Marquez. Possible approaches: Option #1: Text by text comparison. First paragraph: A: An explanation of Marquez's entire speech. Second paragraph: B: An explanation of Krauze's entire essay. Third paragraph: Similarities or differences (this might lead to the "Split Essay ...

  23. Compare and Contrast

    This technique is frequently used in Compare Contrast Essay, Comparison Contrast Essay, and Comparative Essay writing. What is Compare and Contrast? Compare and contrast is a method of analyzing similarities and differences between two or more subjects, ideas, events, or objects. This technique is commonly used in writing, particularly in ...