What is a compare and contrast essay
A compare and contrast essay involves outlining the similarities and differences between two or more ideas or subjects. It is a type of essay used mainly to demonstrate what unites or separates two things or concepts. It is mainly useful in differentiating confusing concepts or things both in academics and business. Moreover, compare and contrast essays help the reader understand concepts deeper by identifying their characteristics in comparison to another.
Purpose of compare and contrast essay
Compare and contrast essays are useful in various areas of academics. One of the uses of compare and contrast essays is to separate topics that define each other. For example, for drug users to better understand the importance of avoiding drug abuse, they need to understand its negative aspects. This would require comparing or weighing the presumed benefits against the consequences of using drugs. While a compare and contrast essay may not describe each topic as conclusively as other essays such as persuasive essay, it helps the reader have a feeling of the other side of the subject matter.
How to write compare and contrast essay
Step 1: Identify the topics of subjects to compare
The first step to writing a compare and contrast essay is to select the subjects to compare. For students, this is often provided for by the instructor, but sometimes they have a choice of what to write. It is important that one selects two concepts that are similar to a certain degree in order to create a good comparison. For example, a compare and contrast essay can be to compare two major leaders or politicians or pieces of work such as music, poems, or literature. The topics to compare should also have outstanding differences. For example, when shopping online, customers always compare products based on different aspects such as performance, durability, and prices. It is the outstanding differences that give them the freedom to select the most suitable products for their consumption.
Step 2: Brainstorm the differences and similarities
After selecting the topics or comparison, next is to populate ideas for both similarities and differences. This is often achieved by generating a list of the differences and similarities in a tabular format. Another approach to brainstorming is using a Venn diagram where overlapping circles represent different concepts. Each circle contains a list of features of a subject, while anything shared with other subjects is listed in the middle of the overlapping part. The advantage of a Venn diagram over the tabular method is that it gives a clear pictorial representation of the topics with their differences and similarities. Having listed the similarities and differences, you should focus on the ones that stand out in terms of giving a clear picture of each subject.
Step 3: Select the best structure for the essay
Compare and contrast essays can take different structures based on the topics being discussed.
One of the techniques for structuring the essay is the block method, where the comparison and contrast is done in paragraphs. This is where one subject is described in a paragraph then the new paragraph describes the other subject. This method helps readers understand each subject better by tackling them separately. However, having an entire paragraph for a subject may confuse the reader about the connection between the two subjects.
This technique involves coming up with specific topics upon which both or all subjects are discussed. For example, when writing a compare and contrast essay about the environmental impact of oil and cutting down trees for energy. You can separate them into topics such as their impact on animals and their impact on the ozone layer. This approach helps focus on the connection or differences between the subjects.
Similarities and differences
This is another technique for structuring a compare and contrast essay that is closely similar to alternating. The difference with the alternating method is that it focuses on the differences and similarities of the subjects rather than dividing them into topics. It is particularly useful for emphasizing specific differences or similarities between the subjects.
Step 4: use supporting evidence
Like other types of essays, a compare and contrast essay requires one to back up their opinions with supporting evidence. However, this depends on the type of comparison required. For academic work that involves a comparison of the wider subject, extensive research is necessary to find strong points from credible sources such as books and journals. On the other hand, if the comparison involves giving a personal opinion about two subjects, such as comparing two products, then extra research will be unnecessary.
Step 5: Proofread your essay
The last step is to go through your compare and contrast essay and make necessary improvements. Scan and identify spelling, grammatical, or any other errors made in the first draft. You should also scan your essay for points that did not stand out or are not clear in expressing the similarities or differences. You can also involve a third eye, such as a fellow student, to help you identify mistakes that may not be clear. Make additions or subtractions to the points presented in the first draft to make it clear and convincing. Consequently, redraft the essay by rectifying any technical errors to make it understandable to your audience.
Compare and contrast essay structure
Your compare and contrast essay should consist of:
Introduction: This is where you introduce the subjects or topics to compare. Provide background information on every topic or subject.
Thesis statement: This is where you tell the readers how you intend to discuss the subjects. Provide direction to the compare and contrast essay and show readers how you will compare the two.
Main body: It is in the main body where you employ the compare and contrast essay structure of choice as described above. You can use, block or alternating method to compare the subjects in question.
Conclusion: Conclude your essay by drawing the main points together and demonstrate how they support the thesis statement
Sample of compare and contrast essay
Follow the link to download a sample of compare and contrast essay