Esl Writing Comparison Contrast Essay

The Compare-and-Contrast Essay

by Owen Fourie

We do it all the time. We compare and we contrast virtually everything that occupies our attention. It helps us to make choices between one thing and another, whether to have beefsteak or chicken, tea or coffee, watch a movie or take a nap. As long as we have to make choices, we are comparing and contrasting. Ordinarily, it is quickly done and driven largely by our desires at any particular moment.

The same process is in operation when we are faced with a choice between two alternatives on a more complicated level where we need information about each alternative before an intelligent choice can be made. We look closely at their similarities as we compare them, and we also note their differences as we contrast them.

Do the spadework

The compare-and-contrast essay is not difficult to write if you do the spadework first. Depending on your choice of topic and your knowledge of the things involved, you might or might not have to do some research. Normally, students elect to deal with things that are familiar to them to avoid spending time in research.

That is fine if you can put together a properly organized and well-reasoned paper in which your reader is given accurate information on which to base a wise decision. Some degree of research should be undertaken, though, even if it is to check only a few facts to be sure that what you are stating is valid.

If you have an inquiring mind and a thirst for knowledge and a desire to find out more about things that are new to you, you would have no problem doing the research and writing your compare-and-contrast essay. In the process, you will have expanded your knowledge. Whatever you choose to write about for this exercise, you have to be sure that you have done the spadework.

Two different methods that can be used to arrive at the same conclusion

Having established this basic need for this type of essay, you now have to make a decision: What form is your essay going to take? There are two ways to format your compare-and-contrast essay: One way is the block method; the other is the point-by-point or feature-by-feature method. Whichever one you choose will determine how you construct your outline.

By the word “feature” is meant any aspect, quality, facet, or characteristic of the persons, things, or ideas being compared and contrasted.

Block Method

Introduction:

  • What are the two objects being compared and contrasted?
  • What is your reason for comparing and contrasting them?
  • What is your purpose in comparing and contrasting them?
  • Thesis statement.

First Body Paragraph:

  • Object A: All the features of Object A;
  • Facts and examples or tests, experiments, and findings;
  • Do not include any information about Object B.

Second Body Paragraph:

  • Object B: All the features of Object B;
  • Facts and examples or tests, experiments, and findings;
  • Do not include any information about Object A.

Third Body Paragraph:

  • Note the similarities as you compare Object A and Object B.

Fourth Body Paragraph:

  • Note the differences as you contrast Object A and Object B.

Conclusion:

  • Sum up in terms of a major similarity and a major difference;
  • Point out the advantage of one and the disadvantage of the other;
  • Come to your preference and a paraphrased restatement of your thesis;
  • Leave the option open for your readers to make their own decision.

Point-by-Point (Feature-by-Feature) Method

Introduction:

  • What are the two objects being compared and contrasted?
  • What is your reason for comparing and contrasting them?
  • What is your purpose in comparing and contrasting them?
  • Thesis statement.

First Body Paragraph:

  • First feature:
  • Compare Object A and Object B (similarities);
  • Contrast Object A and Object B (differences).

Second Body Paragraph:

  • Second feature:
  • Compare Object A and Object B (similarities);
  • Contrast Object A and Object B (differences).

Third Body Paragraph:

  • Third feature:
  • Compare Object A and Object B (similarities);
  • Contrast Object A and Object B (differences).

Conclusion:

  • Sum up in terms of a major similarity and a major difference;
  • Point out the advantage of one and the disadvantage of the other;
  • Come to your preference and a paraphrased restatement of your thesis;
  • Leave the option open for your readers to make their own decision.

In both methods, more than one paragraph can be devoted to each section if necessary.

The compare-and-contrast essay can be applied to virtually any topic you can name from the mundane to the lofty, from dishwashing liquids to Newtonian Physics and Quantum Physics, from iPad and MacBook to William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. If you know your facts, have a penchant for one or the other, and choose your method, you can put together an essay of this sort.

What is your experience with writing compare-and-contrast essays? Do you have any useful insights? What are your particular struggles? Which method do you prefer to use, and what are your reasons for using it? What are your thoughts about using this type of essay as an opportunity to learn something new? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

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What is a comparison essay?

A comparison essay (or a Compare and Contrast essay) is used to critically analyze any two subjects, finding and pointing out their similarities and/or dissimilarities.

Depending on your assignment, such essays can be comparative only (looking only at similarities), contrasting only (pointing out the differences) or both comparative and contrasting.

Below you will find specific instructions on how to write a comparison essay on any topic, which is well written and will have a good chance to get a high grade.

A comparison essay can have two patterns: point-by-point (or "alternating") pattern and subject-by-subject (or "block") pattern.

Alternating pattern

Alternating pattern is also known as "point-by-point comparison".

This mode of comparison will result in your essay having 5 paragraphs.

In it, you will need to consecutively compare and contrast each of the similarities and differences in the given subjects:

In the introduction you state your thesis.

Then you discuss both of your subjects together for each point of comparison and contrast.

In the conclusion you restate the thesis and shortly summarize your essay.

Block pattern

Block pattern is also known as "subject-by-subject comparison".

According to this pattern, you will be required to separate the body of your compare and contrast essay in two parts.

The first part of the body will be dedicated to the first subject, while the other half will be centered around the second subject:

In the introduction you state your thesis.

First you discuss the first subject.

Then you discuss the second subject.

In the conclusion you restate the thesis and shortly summarize your essay.

Writing an A+ comparison essay

Introduction

The introduction is very important. It gives the reader his/her first impression of the comparison essay's text.

Start from a short background

High school students often find it difficult to view their teachers as anything but "the enemy." However, after the first few months of a school year, students learn to appreciate their teachers as individuals with different approaches. Some teachers are "cool," while others are "tough."

State the thesis

Although Sally Strict & Larry Lax are both respected teachers at our school, their teaching styles and expectations for students differ significantly. While Ms. Strict maintains a highly structured classroom atmosphere to keep her pupils disciplined and motivated, Mr. Lax downplays structure in order to allow his students to push themselves.

Point paragraph

State the point

Finally, Ms. Strict enforces high standards for her students' written work.

Provide supporting details

She collects homework every day at the beginning of class; to turn it in five minutes late is to turn it in a whole day late. Every piece of writing, whether it is a journal entry or a formal essay, must be typed and stapled. Last but not least, all homework must display a sophisticated level of thinking and writing.

Use appropriate transitions

Transitions are important in comparison / contrast writing to avoid confusion. Without transitions, the points you are comparing / contrasting may blur into one another. Also, a variety of transitions prevent monotony.

For comparison:

Like, compared to, similar to, similarly, by analogy, likewise, in the same way, as well, both, too

For contrast:

Unlike, conversely, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, still, although, while, but, even though, although, despite, yet, regardless, on the one hand... one the other hand

Conclusion

The conclusion of a comparison essay is just as important as the introduction. The conclusion seals the comparison essay and tries to close the issue. Conclusion is the last part of the essay that your reader will experience.

Summarize the similarities and / or difference of the subjects

Thus, Ms. Strict and Mr. Lax both accomplish their goals of motivating their students to do excellent work, though they do so in very different ways: while Ms. Strict emphasizes the high standards she expects everyone can meet, Mr. Lax uses a more personal approach.

Emphasize the thesis and say why this topic is important

Their success demonstrates the importance of diversity in a school community: different students respond to different teaching styles. So rather than viewing their instructors as a monolithic "enemy" intent on making them suffer, students should recognize how they benefit from the variety of ways their teachers inspire them.

Final Word

If you followed the above instructions, you now have an argumentative essay, on any topic, which is well written and has a good chance to get a high grade.

Article source:http://eslarticle.com/pub/teaching/writing/106701-How-to-Write-an-A-Comparison-Essay.html

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