Suppose you want to buy a cell phone but can’t decide between two models. In order to make a decision you compare and contrast the characteristics of the two models.
A comparison contrast essay also compares (similarities) or contrasts (differences) between two objects, subjects or concepts. It is another type of expository essay that elaborates on an idea through the process of comparison and contrast. It is important that the objects you compare and contrast belong to the same category. Otherwise, it will defeat your objective. For instance, there is little sense in comparing a car with a computer because they are unrelated. Whereas it is logical to compare a TV with a computer because even though they are different, they still share certain features.
A COMPARISON-CONTRAST ESSAY WILL DO 1 OF 3 THINGS:
Compare: Identify the similarities between two similar things.
Contrast: Identify the differences between two similar things.
Compareand Contrast two similar things at the same time.
Let’s use the example from above: Suppose you want to buy a cell phone but can’t decide between two models.
The darker area in the middle indicates similar characteristics shared by both plans: CHEAP, NO CONTRACT, GOOD RECEPTION. Features that appear in the individual circles are unique to those individual plans.
THESIS STATEMENT FOR A COMPARE-CONTRAST ESSAY
Your thesis statement lets your readers know exactly what you are writing about in your essay. For a comparison-contrast essay, it will:
Clearly state what you will compare or contrast.
Explain very briefly how two things are similar or different
Details will be developed in the body of the essay
Indicate preference of writer for one object over another or
Although both cell phone plans offer inexpensive good reception with no binding contracts, Plan B offers better value for the money for people who do not also have a land line.
In deciding between cell phone plans A and B, both plans offer inexpensive good reception with no binding contracts, but which plan is best really depends on how you use your cell phone.
While both cell phone plans provide inexpensive good reception with no binding contracts, Plan A is definitely the better value for people who want a no-frills plan that is primarily used for local calls.
PATTERNS FOR WRITING A COMPARE-CONTRAST ESSAY
1. Block Style: In each paragraph, highlight all the distinguishing features of Object A and in the next paragraph, highlight all features of object B.
May end with a short anecdote or question – something for the reader to think about
2. Point by Point Organisation (Alternating Style): Each paragraph focuses on one point of comparison. First, discuss one feature of Object A and then one feature of Object B. Discussion alternates between object A & B.
Here are some additional resources that may be helpful to you. These Academic Writing Tools are available at the Writing & Learning Centres:
To outline your essay see our Outline: Short Essay (fewer than 5 pages) or Extended Essay (more than 5 pages).
If your instructor has requested an annotated bibliography, see our Writing Guide: Annotated Bibliography.
For help with writing a thesis statement, see our Writing Guide: Thesis Statement.
For information about citing your sources see the Citation Style Guides links on the library web page under Research Tools.
For additional help, please make an appointment with a Writing & Learning Centre writing instructor at: https://alexander.mywconline.com/
This handout was put together with help from:
Folse, S. K., and Pugh, T. Greater Essay Writing 5 (2nd Ed.). Boston: Collins, 2010. Print.
Juzwiak, C. Touchstones: A Guided Approach to Writing Paragraphs and Essays.