What is a Compare and Contrast Essay?

In a traditional essay, you write about one place, event, book, or something else. Each of these papers has one central object, all the content is written about it. In this type of papers, you have to tell your readers about two or more objects, by showing what are their differences and explaining what they have in common.

Looking for different and similar properties is the way how we get familiar with things. If you hear a song, you don’t just think about its lyrics or poetical meaning, but also compare it to other songs you’ve heard before. When you need to buy a car, you make a comparison of dozens of vehicles. You do it to see which of them should be the best choice for you.

Writing such papers develops your analytical skills, an ability to see similarities in very different things, and notice different points of the things that are very similar, you also learn more about each of things that you have to compare.

Such essays can be assigned to students of any course. If you study economics, it would be good if you compare the markets of the two regions or towns. Students who study math can write about two or more ways to solve the equation, historians pick two different events from the past and look how they are similar.

You can pick objects for comparison from any category. You are able to write about two or more songs, books, regions, places, teachers, or people that you met personally. If you can choose your topic, it is easier to write about things or people if you are familiar with them and read a lot. Check that you have enough information for creating such an essay.

What the Purposes Are?

If your paper is concentrated on two or more objects, you need to learn more about them and gain the necessary knowledge. During the research, you study many sources. It helps you to get much more useful information about these objects than you had before.

With the help of comparison, people can find out what is easier or cheaper for them. You can pick two approaches in tutoring and tell your readers about which of them is recommended by the results of your research. If there are two or more ways to build the bridge, and they have the same quality, you can find out which of them is cheaper and easier.

Many people get used to seeing only small pieces of the big picture. When you write such a paper, you notice the connections between objects, the global scope, and you change the way how you get familiar with things. You will see not the small pieces but the big picture that is made of them.

We make a comparison almost every day, we need it for choosing what to buy, what to order for our dinner, or where to study after the graduation. If you have written a lot of such essays and you have developed analytical skills, it will be much easier to handle such tasks and do good choices.

Such papers also have a big role in understanding other people. If you compare the culture of your and another region, you can find how much you have in common. If you write about two or more languages, you will notice many similar words, and it would help you in learning these languages too.

How to Start a Compare and Contrast Essay

The topic gives your readers the information about your paper, but they still need to know more to keep reading it, tell them about the objects of research and methodologies you have used. If you picked this topic, explain why you did this and why this area is interesting to you. You can’t write about each property of these objects, it would take thousands of pages or more and this is not your purpose, that is why you Consider which properties you need to pay attention to, your opinion about the studied objects, and tell it to your readers.

If you need your essay to be popular and well-accepted, you have to encourage your readers. Show them why your paper is interesting, how much it is useful for them, and what facts and arguments they can read there. This is the way to get a good grade and make your readers go further to the main body.

Example of the beginning paragraph:

“Paper books were the basis of school education for centuries, most of the adult people don’t imagine the school without paper books. However, students tend to use more convenient digital devices. Many educational institutions can switch to them too. Let us compare paper books and digital devices to find out whether we should stay loyal to the paper or invest in digital technologies.”

How to Write Body Paragraphs of a Compare and Contrast Essay

To start writing it, you have to decide what approach to use. There are two approaches in writing such papers, Block and Point-by-Point. Each student can consider what is the most appropriate for them.

The Block approach lets you divide the content into two or more sections, and each compared object has its block; you start with writing about the first object with listing its properties, then describe the second object with its properties, and add more blocks if you have more than two objects. People who read your paper get the full information about the first object and then move to other items of your essay.

The simple example of using this approach:

  • Brazil is located in South America, most of the people speak Portuguese, and its population is greater than 210 million people;
  • The USA is located in North America, most of the people speak English, and its population is greater than 350 million people.
  • The Point-by-Point approach lets you make a list of properties and compare objects by them easily, you state the property and then analyze how objects are similar or different by this property. The simple example of using this approach:
  • Location. When Brazil is located in South America, the USA is located in North America.
  • Language — When most of the Brazilian people speak Portuguese, Americans use to speak English.
  • Population. Although Brazil is a big country, its population is over 210 million people when the USA has more than 350 million people.

How to Write a Conclusion

Summarize everything readers learned from previous sections. Highlight the most significant similarities and notable differences, consider what is their meaning, tell your readers how this information can be useful for them.

Example of this section:

”As we see, both paper and digital devices have their pros and cons. Textbooks contain less information, they are heavy and big, but they don’t cause many health issues; touchscreen devices give access to a lot of information, they are cozy for students, but they are very expensive for schools, need charging and cause issues with children health. The best decision is to combine them and use both textbooks and devices”.

Do’s and Dont’s When Writing Such a Paper

  • Do study all the objects of your research well. If you study the first object more than the second, your essay would not be objective, that is why you need to pay attention to all the aspects of your study.
  • Make references to the sources. For writing such an essay, you need to study many articles and books, speak with specialists and look for the information online. You should write down the names of used sources, add them to the references list, and make quotations or citations when needed.
  • Consider which properties you need to compare and which you shouldn’t. Think about what it the most significant for you, your topic, and other students who may read your essay. If you are not going to create a very long list of comparisons and contrasts, think carefully what should be in this list of your paper.
  • Pick a topic that is interesting to you. You can write about two famous people, book writers, historical places, programming languages, studying approaches, BlackBerry versions, or dance styles. Your topic may depend on your course, the assignment you have, and your interests.
  • Read a lot of sources to get more information about studied items, It lets you be more objective and select the properties for comparison. If you have the necessary background, it will be easier to write everything you need.
  • Create a table with the properties of objects, their similarities, and differences. This format of information is very convenient when working with such type of essays, you can build tables of any size in most of the popular text editors.
  • Take into account all the main properties of compared objects. If you write about two devices and consider which of them have higher performance but don’t tell readers about their prices, it wouldn’t be very informative. Less powerful devices are usually cheaper and your readers should know it when reading the paper.
  • If you need to convince readers of something, you have to verify that this information is true and checked. Avoid myths and unproven information in your paper, check all the facts you want to include in its content. If you base your arguments on fakes, your essay would not be accepted.
  • Rely not only on your personal opinion but on other people too. If you need to write about differences between a movie and a book on which it is based, don’t write only about your views on it, because there are many critical responses and reviews you should read before writing your essay.
  • Make logical connections between paragraphs. If they are not much connected, readers may lose the central idea of your document, that is why you should make logical transitions and check the order of items in your essay.
  • Don’t use unoriginal ideas. If you copy other papers, it will be easily checked by the software and you will not get a good grade for it. Even if students wrote a lot of such papers before, try to make it unique and apply your personal approach to it.
  • Don’t think that the grammar checker can find all mistakes. Programs are not humans, and they don’t read the English words as we do. Even if your text editors don’t find errors in your paper, read it and you may find a lot of logical or grammatical errors there.
  • Don’t write only about different or only about similar things. The purpose of this essay is to write about objects that are both similar and difficult, so after the compare section, you should move to the contrast section.