Most of the decisions that we take are a result of comparison and contrast, and we often keep comparing between the choices that we have in front of us. Comparing and contrasting has no specific boundary and anything such as individuals, art forms, movies, locations etc., can be compared. Any two subjects when considered to be compared and contrasted in the written form, lead to a comparison and contrast essay.
There are many aspects that the author should be aware of while writing a comparison and contrast essay. Comparison of two subjects is to draw the similarities between the two and contrast is to find the differences between the two subjects. Below are few tips that will help you with common mistakes that have to be avoided, and the points to keep in mind while writing a comparison and contrast essay:
- If you are not writing for any assignment, then choose topics relating to the subjects that interest you and subjects that you are comfortable talking about at length.
- It is very important that you brainstorm and research well about the subjects in order to list out the similarities and differences between them. Gather as much information, facts and examples as you can, on the given subjects. Irrelevant or unnecessary information can be filtered out later.
- Be clear about the idea and your point of view on the subjects, and also think of a structure you would want to proceed with. Structure your essay, keeping the general format of the essay in mind, i.e. to have an introduction, body and conclusion.
- Your introduction can start with a quotation and then get to the thesis statement of your essay, however keep your audience in mind while using any quotations or anecdotes. You can also use the background information of the subjects if any to tell the reader what your essay is all about.
- Not focusing on the structure of the essay is the biggest mistake that many do, so choose from the two widely used structures for writing the comparison and contrast essays, which are called the block arrangement or the alternate (point to point) arrangement of ideas. In a block arrangement you would discuss about the subject1 in the first paragraph and then subject2 in the next in the same order of features and characters as discussed in the 1st paragraph (for subject1) of the body. In an alternate arrangement, you would have to discuss a particular point pertaining to both the subjects simultaneously. Here, you can use one complete paragraph to discuss the similarities and the next to argue on the differences between the subjects.
- Try to include less known facts, which are more interesting about the subjects while discussing the similarities and differences, to keep the essay more interesting and informative to the reader.
- Organize your essay to ensure that the paragraphs are connected well through a logical progression towards the conclusion of the essay emphasizing your opinion, and use facts and examples to support your point of view.
- Never try to mix two styles of structures in the essay, when you are not sure on how to blend the structures without losing on the original format of the essay.
- Conclusion of the contrast and comparison essays would be similar to that of most other essays, having a recap of all the major points discussed, but it is important that your point of view is made clear to the audience. Proofread the essay twice or more to check for any errors and corrections, and correct those accordingly before submitting the essay.
Celebrating festivals in the cities and in villages
In this topic, you can use a block arrangement pattern or structure and discuss about the celebrations in the cities. You can talk about the rituals performed, dishes prepared, games played, availability of goods required and so on. And then discuss about the celebrations in the villages outlining the same points, but also tell how different they are from the celebrations in the cities. Which means you would still talk about the rituals performed, dishes prepared, and games played etc., but highlight the similarities and differences accordingly.
Subway and McDonald
In this topic, you can use the point-by-point structure to explain and discuss the various similarities and differences between both the restaurants. Similarities like, veg and non-veg food, fast food, easy billing, vending machines and neat ambience etc., can be discussed. Differences like the choice of menu, use of ingredients, service standards, can be highlighted and then tell your opinion or your choice in the conclusion.
Two different sports-persons
You can try and write about two different sports-persons comparing the style of their game, body language, achievements etc., and then discuss about their differences with respect to their choice of music, hobbies, places of interest or reading habits etc.
Two Cars of the same segment
There would be so many features, and specifications about these machines that you can try to discuss depending upon the audience. You might want to discuss more technical features if the audience is technically inclined. You can compare the features as the luxury element, comfort, space inside the car, etc. Later discuss the differences between the cars in terms of the power, ground clearance, road grip etc. You can conclude by giving your opinion, and tell which of these is best according to you and why do you think so, by making references to the similarities and differences that were discussed earlier.
Going to a movie and watching a movie at home theater
This topic gives you a chance to explore and discuss many aspects of an experience. Here you are not comparing any two physical objects but comparing the two different movie watching experiences. You can compare the seating comfort, the quality of the picture, the sound effects etc. and also discuss in detail the time taken to travel to the theater and 'pause and play as you want' advantage at home theater, homemade favorite snacks to munch etc. Conclude with your choice highlighted with appropriate reasons.
When we write a comparison essay, we often use these two types of diagrams.
On the left side,
we have what's called a Venn diagram, two circles that intersect each other.
You would put your two topics at the top of the diagram,
and then you would write all of the things that describe the first topic in the first
circle, and all of the things that go with the second topic in the second circle.
Anything that is different about topic A and topic B,
you write in the outside of the circles, and then when they intersect,
anything that they both have in common you would write here in the middle.
Another type of diagram you can use for
preparing you compare or contrast essay is just a T chart.
Looks like a T, right?
Here's an example of a Venn diagram.
This one is about two kinds of fish.
You may not have heard of this kind of fish before.
I think this is the kind of fish that Nemo is.
Remember the movie Finding Nemo?
This is the kind of fish he is.
And you see here, it says orange and white stripes.
The other kind of fish is a salmon, and
all of these details here describe only the salmon.
All of these details here describe only this kind of fish.
I don't even know how to say it, anemone I think.
Anemonefish, that's it.
And then all of the details here in the middle are shared characteristics.
Shared by this fish and this fish.
This is a nice example of how you use a Venn Diagram.
Remember, we already said that the thesis statement
is the most important sentence in your introduction.
And it really is important for the whole essay,
because your thesis tells what the essay is going to be about.
When you're writing a compare and contrast essay, you have to make sure that you
mention the two things that you're going to be comparing or contrasting.
And then you also need to use language that
shows your reader whether you are comparing or contrasting.
These are two patterns that you can use when writing a compare or contrast essay.
I'm showing you both of them here, but in the essay that you're going to write,
you're going to use the point-by-point method.
I'll just quickly show you the block method, but
it's really inferior to the point-by-point.
It's very basic.
In the block method, you would have just two body paragraphs.
The first body paragraph would be all about topic A.
The second body paragraph would be all about topic B.
And you don't mix the two topics.
It's almost like having two separate essays.
This is not really a good strategy to use.
This is a stronger method, and this is the one that you are required to use for
this essay that you'll be writing, your first essay.
In the point-by-point method, your body paragraphs talk about each topic.
The first body paragraph you would talk about some point regarding topic A and
topic B, showing how they are similar or how they are different.
Your next body paragraph would show another similarity,
or another difference, and again you talk about both topics.
And your third body paragraph would talk about another point
that's either shared or different between the two topics.
Before you start writing, it's a good idea to make an outline.
Remember, that for your essay, you're going to write a point-by-point method.
You should try to make some kind of outline similar
to the point-by-point outline that I just showed you with topics A and B.
When you see your assignment, and you'll see the assignment in the assignments area
of the course page, you need to start by making a Venn diagram or a T chart.
This will help you get your ideas organized.
Then you're going to decide whether you're writing about similarities or differences.
And in each body paragraph, you will have one similarity or one difference.
Now don't get confused about that.
You won't write about both in your essay.
You'll only choose similarities and you'll write about three similarities, or
you'll only choose differences and then you would write about three differences.
But each body paragraph will have one of these.