GUIDE TO WRITING A COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY
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A compare and contrast essay is one of the easiest essays one can write. You are likely to meet this paper or type of essay most careers and academies setting, therefore, most of the people come across this at one point in or another. The most surprising thing is that most people don’t know how to write this compare and contrast essay
Compare and contrast essay is an essay that requires on to recognize the similarities and differences between two variables, concepts, things etc. Sometimes the essay is easy and sometimes its complex depending on the topic or the academic level. This may require just a shallow analysis or sometimes it may require an in depth analysis of similarities and differences. It may also require you to make connection on the items being compared and contrasted.
The main purpose of the compare and contrast essay is not just identifying the similarities and differences. It involves making substantive arguments about the subject matter. This maybe tough but it takes practice to overcome the challenge of not knowing to write a compare and contrast essay
This article is going to guide you on how to write a good compare and contrast essay.
HOW A GOOD COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAYS LOOKS (STRUCTURE)
A good compare and contrast essay usually take two forms:
The block Structure
With this structure, all pertinent information about one of the concepts is presented first, then the other concept is presented afterward. It is similar to the structure used in a cause and effect essay where the causes are presented first and their effects later.
The point by Point Structure
With this structure, the similarities and differences of one concept are given and followed by the similarities and differences of the other concept.
Both structures are viable, and it is purely in the writer’s prerogative to choose one.
HOW TO WRITE COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAYS
UNDERSTAND THE PROMPT
A prompt is given to guide you on the subject to be written. With reference to the prompt, pick two concepts or subjects that can be easily compared and contrasted. You could settle on two subjects that fall under the same category but have quite distinct differences. For example, Home cooked food vs. take-out food.
You could also settle on two subjects that don’t have apparent commonalities at face value but have some similarities when a close analysis is done. For example, the feeding habits of humans and pigs. At face value, these two mammals appear to have different feeding habits but are all omnivores.
Lastly, you can choose two subjects that may appear similar at face value but are quite different. For example, when talking about a book and its movie version.
After settling on one of the above, the next step is to make sure that both subjects can be analyzed substantively. It does not count just to have two subjects that have similarities and differences; but also why the two subjects need to be analyzed together.
TOPICS ARE A MUST HAVE FOR YOUR COMPARE AND CONTRAST PAPERS
After you’ve understood the prompt, the next step is to come up with a good topic. To aid you in this, make sure that you isolate the major points of discussion. Decide on which points you would like to focus on as it will help you in formulating a thesis.
You can literally list all the qualities, characteristics and features of each subject. After listing them, scan through this list to identify the common traits that are shared and major points of differences.
A Venn diagram can be of help. It consists of three parts:
- Points exclusive to subject A
- Points exclusive to subject B
- Points that relate to both subject A and B
This will help you narrow down your focus to the point that you want to prove in your compare and contrast paper. It is recommended to have fewer points of discussion so that you have plenty of space to analyze each of them in detail.
HOW TO WRITE COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY THESIS
The premise of your thesis is to present an argument that supports why it’s important to analyze the two subjects together.
When formulating your thesis: Indulge your readers to how one subject is desirable as opposed to the other
Assist your readers to make a substantive comparison on the two subjects
Let your readers see how the two subjects are similar and different
WRITE AN OUTLINE
After you’ve formulated your thesis, create an outline for your essay. An outline helps you draw the structure that your essay will take. It also acts as a template that you will use to develop your ideas in the essay.
Regardless of your chosen structure, the essay will still have to conform to the following standard:
This is the first paragraph. It introduces your subject and lays down all the basic information and background on your subjects. It contains the thesis statement at the last sentence. A reader should know what you want to compare and contrast in this paragraph and the value of doing so. This paragraph sets the tone for your compare and contrast paper, and anyone should predict the direction that the essay will take form what you have written in it.
This is the central part of your essay. It presents all the evidence that you intend to use to support your claim on the subjects being compared and contrasted. It usually consists of three paragraphs. However, the number of paragraphs is directly related to the number of points that you will present. It is recommended to use one paragraph to elaborate on one point. Make use of transition sentences to effectively connect one point to the other.
For a basic three paragraph body, the following format can be used:
- The first paragraph could present distinct aspects of Subject A
- The second paragraph could present distinct aspects of Subject B
- The third paragraph could be dedicated to pointing out similarities or differences of both subjects (depending on what you want to prove)
After these three paragraphs, write a conceding paragraph that acknowledges that there are other counter-arguments and anti-theses. However, they strongly point out that they do not have substance and cannot be used with the two aspects being compared and contrasted.
This paragraph will summarize all the presented arguments and evidence. As usual, it will restate the thesis but in a more authoritative way. It serves to cement your claim and to solidify your argument.
WRITE YOUR ESSAY
Now that you have an outline to guide you, start writing your compare and contrast paper. Pick a preferred structure and get down to writing.
Let’s work with the following subject: home-cooked food vs. take-out food
Here’s a guide to writing with the structures discussed above:
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