How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
We all dread the two words, Compare and Contrast. Your essay topic is a two-for. You basically have to write two essays in one. Thankfully, there are a few tips and pointers that can help you get your compare and contrast essay written and finished off without having to pull an all-nighter
Start out by analyzing the essay topic. Typically, you will have to be comparing and contrasting a certain subject of two different principles. For example, compare and contrast the characters in a certain book. Well hopefully you read the book or have at least studied up on the subject matter. If you haven't, get to it right now. It is tough to fluff your way through an essay of this type.

Next, we need to define what is meant by "Compare and Contrast". Compare means to find some similarities between two things. Show what the two things have in common with each other. It might be obvious, but you have to show it and relate it back to the subject matter. Contrast means to find the differences between the two things. Again, they may be obvious, but you want to use them to prove your point.

What is your point? Well, in a compare and contrast essay, the point is usually to differentiate two things and show that they are unique. You want to say "X is like Y because..., but X and Y are unique because...". You want to show why their uniqueness is the way that it is, and why that is important.

Lets use an example. Compare and contrast Taco Bell and McDonalds. (For those of you who don't know, Taco Bell is a Mexican Fast Food restaurant, and McDonalds is a Hamburger Fast Food restaurant.) You could approach this one of two ways. You could either start out by showing how they are similar, then showing how they are different, or you could go through different categories and list how they are the same or different. Let's go with the first method. I'll keep the essay to a few sentences just to illustrate my point:

"Taco Bell and McDonalds are very similar in the fact that they are both fast food restaurants. They both have value menus and drive-through windows. They are both not the best quality food in the world.

However, Taco Bell and McDonalds are different because Taco Bell serves an entirely different style of food than McDonalds. Taco Bell serves Mexican food (burritos, tacos, beans, salsa, nacho cheese, etc.) while McDonalds serves more American food (hamburgers, fries, shakes, etc.)"

Here is an example of going point by point and showing how they are the same or different:

"As far as store set up goes, Taco Bell and McDonalds are very similar. They have bold decorations, colorful menus, and usually have drive thrus. You place your order, get a number and get your own food when it is ready.

As far as menus are concerned, Taco Bell and McDonalds serve entirely different selections of food."

So you can see that the idea is to show how the places are similar yet different. Always try to keep your supports related back to your thesis. Once you are finished, make sure to re-read the entire essay for any errors, and always have someone check over your work before you submit it. It is easy to skip this last step, but I have noticed that papers which are peer-reviewed typically receive a whole letter grade higher than those which are turned in without being reviewed.

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