How to Write a Comparative Essay

How to Write a Comparative Essay
Comparative essays are about a comparison of two things. Quite often you will use a "Pro's vs. Cons" format or be asked to compare different views, people, things, or events. Just as with any essay you write, you need to ensure the purpose of your essay is very clear. It is extremely important that you answer the question at hand in a way that readers can comprehend.
Essays, when it comes down to it, are one of the simplest things to write since you are basically taking facts and turning them into a short story, or in the case of a comparative essay, a short "argument" or debate.

Essays are based on your particular thesis which will need to be supported not just by obvious similarities and differences. A good length for an essay is between 700 and 1800 words.


A comparative essay is, in essence, a written debate. You need to start by analyzing the question your essay is asking. Before you can write/debate about it, you must make sure you understand both sides of it.


Find a basic starting point that clearly states the similarities between the two subjects you are comparing. This establishes the focus of your essay. You need to declare, at the end of your introduction, which side of the comparison you personally feel is correct.


One option is to write a paragraph about one side, than the following paragraph is about the opposing side. This is often called "Block Arrangement". You will keep repeating this throughout the essay until you reach your conclusion. You can discuss each side in more depth with this option and is the best method to use when you two topics are completely different (i.e., Pro-Life and Pro-Choice).

Your second option is to divide each paragraph in half, discussing each side in every paragraph. This is often called "Point-by-Point" or "Alternating Arrangement". If you choose this option your first paragraph should discuss both options as a whole, in a broader spectrum. For the additional paragraphs you should discuss one particular point of each side, per paragraph.


The conclusion is a brief summary of the biggest differences of both options and should end with your own personal statement, or opinion, about why you think side A, or, side B, is the correct choice. Your reader should feel that they learned something during your comparative essay.


• Pick the option format you want to write your comparative essay in and stick to it. You cannot merge the two options.
• Use a "Straight Line of Development" - Tell your audience what you plan to tell them, then tell them.
• Be sure your reader can relate to your topic.
• Make sure it is clear which side you stand on.

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