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Writing a Good Compare Contrast Essay

In your student life, you will be often required to compare and contrast things. For instance, you will find situations that require you to compare and contrast texts, theories, individuals, or production processes among others. So, in brief, this is an essay that involves analyzing object A against object B. The essay has two main parts, which makes it a little different from other genres. You need to give points on how similar the objects are, and then, how different they are. This makes it a balanced review of both objects. In this post, you’ll learn how to write a good compare contrast essay.

In some essays, the writer uses A as the lens through which to view B and vice versa. This necessitates an in-depth analysis of both objects. This kind of analysis essay helps readers to understand a topic in an objective way. The writer gives the pros and cons of both topics and the reader decides on which standpoint to take between the two. Such an essay is also important for critiquing and illuminating as well as challenging a belief which seems obvious before the analysis.

For instance, it could be about controversial topics such as abortion. You can compare and contrast the pro-life with pro-choice stands. This will illuminate information to your readers and they may be able to understand other people. Again, the essay could end up helping people understand to which extent their bias may be sensible.

The essay may sound difficult but it isn’t. It only involves the preparation of raw data- the differences and similarities of the objects you intend to discuss- and then cohere them into a sensible, well organized argument.

Main features a good compare contrast essay

There are five elements necessary when writing up an A+ compare and contrast essay. These include the thesis, linking, reference frame, organization and grounds of comparison or contrast.

The reference frame

This marks the boundary of the essay. It is the context within which the items are placed for comparison and contrasting. This could be the idea, theory or challenge that motivates or triggers the discussion. The tutor may also find it necessary to provide reference materials from which you can come up with the ideas. This removes the urge to come up with non-scientific random thoughts which may not necessarily make sense. So, the tutor provide sources so that instead of giving incorrect ideas, you get to quote from scientific findings about a given topic.

The majority of assignments provide students with the frame of reference, so it shouldn’t be much of a concern. However, you may encounter a few which do not have such sources and you have to find them on your own. In that case, it’s important to stick to scientific findings unless you are instructed otherwise.

Comparison grounds

Why are the two objects worth comparing? If you get enough points to answer the question, then it is legit to continue with the essay. If you can’t, then you shouldn’t. In a bid to ensure that you’re writing a meaningful essay, it’s critical to consider how your audience benefits from reading it. When you want to write about bananas and melons, you should ask yourself- why not peaches and lemons? Or, why not corn and potatoes.

When you write down the rationale behind your choice of topic, you will let your audience know that they will benefit if they read your essay. It’s also advisable to avoid topics that seem obvious. Who wants to waste their five minutes reading something they already know?!

Thesis

This is the gist of your essay. Once you have the frame of reference and ground of comparison with you, it’s easy to state your thesis. In a compare-contrast essay, the thesis is dependent on the relationship between the objects you’ve chosen for analysis. For instance, in an essay that majorly focuses on the differences between the two items, you can simply indicate the thesis by the word “whereas”. E.g.

Whereas going to the beach for swimming is fun and provides the opportunity to meet new people and make friends, camping in the woods is a chance to interact with nature and have a time for soul-searching.

In short, the thesis should include the relationship between object A and B. This doesn’t matter whether the essay focuses on the similarities or differences. Remember, the relationship of the two objects is the nucleus of the compare and contrast paper. Thus, it must form part of the thesis.

Organization

The thesis, ground of comparison and the frame of reference are part of the essay’s introduction. From there, the body starts and it is a little different from other essays. While other essays talk about one idea-per-paragraph, the compare and contrast genre focuses on bringing out the relationship between the two objects in question. This is called the point by point organizational scheme. Then, we have the text-by-text scheme where you first discuss everything about A, then B.

When choosing the best organization for your essay, you should consider the points for and points against. If you think that A beats B, then the text-by-text organization is the best to use. If you see A and B as a heated up debate with several points for each case, then you can use the point by point format. However, it is not compulsory that you use one over the other unless you’ve been instructed to do so by your tutor.

Again, you can organize your work in a classical way. However, in a ‘lens’ comparison essay, the text-by-text would be the ideal organization. This is because A and B will not be essentially compared but instead, one will be used as a tool to see the other.

Linking the topics

Every time you are writing an argumentative essay, it is crucial to link your thesis. This means that you must- at all times- show how relevant your point is to the topic and thesis. A compare and contrast essay is no different as it is an advanced argumentative essay.  So, you must use the links appropriately. Without them, the reader may easily get confused as they can easily fail to see how new sections of your essay connect with the rest. The linking words- basically, they are transitional expressions- form the glue that holds your essay together.

Sample paragraph from a point-by-point organized essay

Thesis:  Comparing and Contrasting and American Girl and Her Mother

Jane hates the typical nature of her rural home. Surrounded by harsh social and economic times as well as political and ideological conflicts of her time, she represents a new Southerner- she views her native home with a disdainful Northerner’s lenses. Her mother, on the other hand, still clings onto the former glory of the Old South. Filled with mystical tales, she’s loyally part of a generation that’s getting extinct.

How to write a good compare and contrast essay: the outline

In this section, you’ll find brief clear outline of how to write your essay in the point-by-point format and then, the text-by text format. But first, let’s understand the main parts of the essay.

Title: Make it brief, comprehensive and meaningful. E.g.:  Soccer versus football

Introduction: This is the first paragraph(s) of the essay. It should include an eye-catching statement that invites the reader’s attention into the essay. Then, it should explain why the topics are worthy of comparison or contrasting. The frame of reference should also be stated in this section. Then, it should have a thesis statement.

Body paragraphs: The majority of middle and high school essays have at most 3 paragraphs for this section. However, it’s important that you use as many as you need to drive your point home. Remember, whereas the outline is the skeleton of your essay, the paragraphs are the meat. You should, therefore, provide the factual illustration to provide your ideas. Every paragraph should explain a particular idea. Then, you should link it to the thesis using the transitional words.

Concession: This is also known as the acknowledgement of competitive arguments. Here, you acknowledge that there exists other arguments that counter yours. However, you should defend yours by explaining why those counter arguments are flawed and inapplicable.

Conclusion

This is the final paragraph whose main objective is to summarize the evidence provided. When writing the conclusion, do not keep defining terms, explaining stuff or bringing new ideas on board. Remember, the readers are now well versed with the topic as they’ve read the essay already.

Now, we’ll take the example of rural life and urban life to illustrate the outline for different organization or formats of writing a good compare and contrast essay.

a) Point-by-point organization

Title

Introduction

Body Paragraph 1: first difference between rural and urban life: environment

Rural

Urban

 

Body Paragraph 2: Second difference between rural and urban life: income

Rural

Urban

 

Body Paragraph 3: Third difference between rural and urban life: social life

Rural

Urban

 

Concession

Conclusion

 

b) Text By text

Title

Introduction

Body paragraph 1: e.g. How rural and urban life are similar

Body paragraph 2 e.g. first difference between rural and urban life

Body paragraph 3 e.g. second difference between rural and urban life

Body paragraph 4 e.g. how urban life is superior to rural life

Conclusion: summary

 

c) Subject by subject

Title

Introduction

Body paragraph 1 (rural) e.g. Environmental conservation

Body paragraph 2 (rural) e.g. Food production and income

Body paragraph 3 (urban) e.g. Environmental conservation

Body paragraph 4 (urban) e.g. Food production and income

Conclusion

Summing up on writing a good compare contrast essay

After you have written your essay, be sure to go through it. In this work, it’s important to avoid first person pronouns. Again, avoid any form of bias, negative or defamatory language even when you are illustrating why a subject isn’t pleasing. At GudWriter, we hope this comprehensive guide will make you a top-grade student right away!

Examples of compare contrast essays

Contrasting casual friendship with a close friendship

Contrasting two countries

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