How to Write a Compare and Contrast Paper
The Compare/ Contrast Essay First, let’s explain compare and contrast: When we compare, we show our readers a subject’s similarities. When we contrast, we show our readers a subject’s differences. Compare and Contrast essays are learning-process essays. You learn about your subject as you gather and organize information. This type of essay takes a bit of organization, and it’s this organizational process, this gathering of facts, that helps you learn as you go.
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You will create lists of qualities or traits that each of your subjects has, and as you do this, you will discover insights to your subject that, at first glance, you may not have realized were there. It’s like buying a new shirt. The moment you spread it out on your bed, you start seeing things you hadn’t noticed in the store. Perhaps a button is loose, or the pocket is torn, or it’s a size too big. But there’s more! As an intelligent, probing writer you’re going to ask questions of this shirt: why, what, where, when, how, who.
Why are buttons on the collar? What other type of shirt does this shirt remind you of? Where was it made? When was it made? How did it get to your store and into your hands? Who made it? The questions are endless. But you must ask them to understand your subject. Using why, what, where, when, how, who, you to probe into the core and the reason this shirt exists. The same type of probing and uncovering will happen to you as you outline your subject’s qualities.
You’ll discover all sorts of new things as you ask why, what, where, when, how, who, and as you uncover these new points, your essay will change. In the end, most essays end up far different than expected. Your Thesis You will offer a thesis, like in an argumentative essay, but in this essay, your thesis sets the tone of your paper. In other words, through your thesis, you want the reader to understand what you plan to compare or contrast. Keep it simple: Your thesis will be one or two sentences on what you want to offer (your subject), and if you’re comparing or contrasting.
Getting Started If possible, find an interesting subject about which you can write. This is important because your enthusiasm will show in your work. This essay calls for an outline list: you are going to list the qualities of both subjects, qualities that can be compared, contrasted, or shared. For example: let’s say your comparing and contrasting surfing to snowboarding. Your first job is to list the qualities of each subject. From these qualities and your insight, you can then develop your thesis. Qualities of A: surfing |Shared Qualities |Qualities of B: snowboarding | |surf on water |both use a water medium |snowboard on snow | |need wetsuits and trunks |both require special clothing |need winter clothes and boots | A thesis that will set the tone of your essay for the qualities above might read: Though surfing and snowboarding are done in different seasons, these sports have more similarities than differences.
Of course, the list above is incomplete, and, perhaps, not as academic is we would want it to be. But it’s a start. You keep listing qualities until you believe you have enough information to write a valid essay. A list of five to ten qualities works well for the average paper. But you may have to list twenty qualities to get five that will work for you. When listing, it is good to overdo it; this way, when you’re ready to write your paper, you can weed out the qualities that won’t work and pick the best of the bunch.
Three Parts Opening: You will begin your essay, introducing the subjects you plan to compare and contrast and ending your fist paragraph with your thesis. Body: text by text (first discuss all of A and then discuss all of B) or point by point (alternate between A and B). In this class you will stick to point by point. And you will either compare or contrast, not both. Be careful, sometimes going point by point can make your writing sound tedious and repetitive. Watch your language and transition words.
Use several points at a time. Ending: As in the argumentative essay, bring it all together. Allow your ending to go back to your thesis. Use the transitional words on the next page to help your paper’s coherence. Transitions and other connecting words and connecting sentences should be used throughout. Remember: There are no hard and fast rules as to how many comparisons or contrasts you should offer. For a thorough look into your subject, you must offer enough comparisons or contrasts or both to make a valid statement.
Transitional Words (Conjunctival Adverbs) Use these words to help you connect your thoughts, your sentences, and your paragraphs: (Lest you wish to sound pedantic, tiptoe with caution through words such as “indeed,” and “of course. “) addition again, also, and, and then, besides, equally important, finally, first, further, furthermore, in addition, in the first place, last, moreover, next, second, still, too comparison also, in the same way, likewise, similarly concession granted, naturally, of course contrast lthough, and yet, at the same time, but at the same time, despite that, even so, even though, for all that, however, in contrast, in spite of, instead, nevertheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the other hand, otherwise, regardless, still, though, yet emphasis certainly, indeed, in fact, of course example or illustration after all, as an illustration, even, for example, for instance, in conclusion, indeed, in fact, in other words, in short, it is true, of course, namely, specifically, that is, to illustrate, thus, truly summary ll in all, altogether, as has been said, finally, in brief, in conclusion, in other words, in particular, in short, in simpler terms, in summary, on the whole, that is, therefore, to put it differently, to summarize time sequence after a while, afterward, again, also, and then, as long as, at last, at length, at that time, before, besides, earlier, eventually, finally, formerly, further, furthermore, in addition, in the first place, in the past, last, lately, meanwhile, moreover, next, now, presently, second, shortly, simultaneously, since, so far, soon, still, subsequently, then, thereafter, too, until, until now, when Compare Contrast Grid Subject A | Shared Qualities | Subject B | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Outline Form for Compare Contrast Essays Thesis Statement ____________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ Quality #1 for paragraph #2 Specific support_______________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ Comparative/Contrasting Qualities for paragraph #2
Specific support_______________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ Quality #2 for paragraph #3 Specific support_______________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ Comparative/Contrasting Qualities for paragraph #3 Specific support_______________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ Quality #3 for paragraph #4 _______________________________________________________ Specific support_______________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ Comparative/Contrasting Qualities for paragraph #4 Specific support_______________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ Conclusion ______________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ Compare or Contrast Checklist ______I have made it clear in my opening paragraph what two things I will write about and whether I will compare or contrast. ______I offered a good strong thesis letting the reader know what I plan to compare or contrast. _____I have offered three points in which I will compare and contrast my two subjects _____ I stuck to my method of development: looking, in order, at one side at a time. _____I have used transition words as I moved to each subject and from paragraph to paragraph, so my essay reads smoothly like water rolling down a hill.
There are no sudden changes of subjects without gracefully transitioning into them. ______My concluding paragraph binds my two subjects together and brings me back to the thesis of my essay. ______My simple sentences offer one thought only. ______I vary my sentences. I make sure to use compound and complex sentences, so my essay has a musical quality to it, but I do not overdo it. ______I have reviewed my essay and removed all redundant words. I avoided wordiness and stuck to concision. Checklist ______Prewriting ______Grid (comparing qualities) ______Outline ______Rough draft ______Edited drafts (with correction marks) Evaluate Your Essay _______ Read the essay once without making any comment _______Draw a line under any awkward wording that is difficult to understand _______Draw a two lines under questionable spelling or grammar _______Highlight the thesis statement (or draw a wavy line under it) _______Highlight or wavy line under the main quality in each paragraph _______Look for transitional words and phrases, and if there are none, make notes on your paper to put them in. _______Write the words “vague” or “specific” in the margins next to specific details. _______Circle or highlight: slang, cliches, repetition, and misspelled words ________Pull out Hacker or open up the Hacker site: review your MLA. If format is off, fix it.