What Is a Compare and Contrast Essay?
Unlike other types of essays (see top 10 essay types), a compare and contrast essay is used to explore both the similarities and the differences between two subjects by comparing and/or contrasting them against each other.
Compare and Contrast Essay Outline
To serve their particular purposes in an effective manner, a compare and contrast essay must communicate in an efficient manner. This means that compare and contrast essays should start with an opening paragraph, which will directly state what the writer is trying to say. Afterward, they can move onto the body, which will support the opening paragraph by providing supporting evidence. Once the supporting evidence has been listed, compare and contrast essays can conclude by reemphasizing their opening paragraphs in order to produce a lasting impression on the mind of the reader.
With that said, a compare and contrast essay cannot be completed without conducting a comparative analysis, which the writer can use to lay out their thoughts about the subjects before sorting them into a neat and organized form. Fortunately, this process is as simple as creating a Venn diagram (see below) before filling it with the characteristics of the subjects, while making sure to put shared characteristics in the overlapping area. Once the writer is satisfied with their brainstorming, they can sort through the characteristics for the ones with the most relevance to the point that they are trying to make, which is important because weaker arguments can actually drag down their stronger counterparts when placed in the same essay.
How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
How to start a compare and contrast essay? Students are normally assigned a topic to write on, yet sometimes professors give their students the freedom of selecting the topic on their own. In the latter case choosing one out of top compare and contrast essay topics can become a challenge. While working on the topic selection it is important not to choose two totally unrelated subjects, otherwise finding similarities can get problematic. Start out with a subject that has some basic similarities, e.g. two novels, two paintings, speeches etc.
Looking for the things to compare and contrast? Here is a list of top 30 compare contrast essay topics:
TOP 30 COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY TOPICS
Once you have chosen what to write on in your comparison essay, brainstorm ideas and try to write down every single one of them, choosing those that are relevant to the topic. You might want to divide your sheet of paper into two main sections and start jotting down everything that comes to your mind, including similarities and differences.
Writing Phase - Venn Diagram
An effective technique for finding similarities and differences is using a Venn diagram. A Venn diagram is a scheme that represents logical relations between two objects. Graphically it can be depicted as two overlapping circles, each of the circles denoting some entity. The overlapping part is the area denoting similarities, while the parts that do not overlap, are the differences (see Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Venn Diagram: Comparing Apples and Oranges (Compare and Contrast Essay)
A very important point in writing an effective compare and contrast essay is a correct selection of the lines of comparison: if you are comparing two objects, you should be comparing them against one and the same parameter. For example, looking at the picture above you will see that oranges and apples are compared in regards to things like origin, place of growth, a thickness of peel etc. All of these features are inherent in both objects. If you say that an apple is different from an orange because an apple is green and the orange is juicy, you will be “comparing apples and oranges” – this time in the figurative meaning of "likening two incomparable things".
Organization: Typical Structure of a Compare and Contrast Essay
The opening paragraph should state the essay’s subjects as well as its thesis statement about those same subjects. From that point on, the body of a compare and contrast essay tends to be structured in one of two ways:
The first way: a writer can list the characteristics of one subject and then the characteristics of the other before bringing them together by analyzing their similarities and differences. This means that the body of the essay will begin with a number of paragraphs about one subject, continue with a similar number of paragraphs about the other subject, and then finish with a crucial paragraph that will use the listed characteristics to compare and contrast the two subjects.
The second way: a writer can list the similarities between the subjects and then the differences between the same. This means that the body of the essay will begin with a number of paragraphs about their similarities and finish with a number of paragraphs about their differences. With this structure, there is no need for an analysis at the end because its content is spread throughout the preceding paragraphs.
Another mode of organization, although less common, is called block 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 Object A, while the other half will be centered around Object B. Together with the introduction and the conclusion, the overall essay length will be 4 paragraphs. In case of block comparison the overall essay structure will take the following form:
Once the body of the essay is complete, its conclusion should restate the thesis statement but in a more confident manner because it has proven its point. Sometimes, a conclusion will summarize the preceding paragraphs for a bolder and blunter emphasis, while other times, a conclusion will let them provide their support in a more implicit manner.
HOW TO WRITE A COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY
Additional Tips on Comparison and Contrast Essay Writing
Fig. 2. Comparison and Contrast Signifiers
Compare and Contrast Words
An important thing about writing any essay is using special cue words that will make your essay more coherent and logical. In the case of a compare and contrast essay you will need to use cue words signifying comparison, for example:
Words to compare: like, compared to, similar to, similarly, by analogy, likewise, in the same way, as well as, both, too, at the same time, correspondingly, in addition, same as, etc.
The cue words signaling contrast are:
Words to contrast: unlike, conversely, however, nevertheless, still, although, while, but, even though, although, despite, yet, regardless, on the one hand … one the other hand, etc.
Once the first draft of an essay is complete, it is time for the writer to put the finishing touches:
Proofreading is a key factor because errors can break the reader from the flow of the essay, thus robbing it of its power to persuade. Writers should always read through their own work to check for typos, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, as well as lines that should be rephrased for a better result. However, they should also get other people to proofread for them because their closeness to their writing can make it hard for them to pick up on its problems. After all, they already know what they are trying to say, meaning that they are not looking at their work with the same perspective as the reader.
References are a useful way to increase an essay’s power to persuade so long as they are appropriately authoritative. For example, referencing a politician is probably not going to be much use in a philosophy essay unless it is in the context of their philosophical writings. Furthermore, references are needed to use someone else’s arguments without taking credit for them in the process, which is necessary to prevent plagiarism. Not coincidentally, this also makes it easy for the reader to check the sources so that they will know, that somebody really said so if the reader is skeptical. Finally, references should be done in the style that is appropriate for the essay’s subjects for the convenience of different people in different fields. For example, most essays about the sciences should use APA, while most essays about the humanities should use MLA since those are the conventions.
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We live in a world of choice. In each moment, we are presented with the opportunity to choose from an array of options. The truth is, though, that we do not always make our choices consciously. Sometimes, instead of choosing what is best for our personal requirements, we fall in the trap of commercial tricks and purchase a product we do not need. When we want to make a choice based on facts and objective reasoning exclusively, we need to methodically analyze and compare each product based on the criteria we value. In this essay, I will try to do that when choosing between the two most popular types of TVs: LCD and plasma. When entering the technical department of any supermarket or a high-tech store, many people ask themselves whether a LCD TV is better than a plasma TV, or vice versa. To answer this question, we need to compare the two products based on several relevant technical criteria.
From a layman’s eye, LCD and plasma TVs may look alike; however, a keen eye will notice the difference between these sets. These differences permit customers to have a manifold of choices based on their particular requirements. A plasma display comprises of two glass panels packed in compartmentalized spaces, with many small plasma cells. Plasma cells are normally charged to a precise electrical voltage level (Kith, Plasma TV Components). On the other hand, an LCD display is comprised of aqueous crystals that are normally preset between two panels of glass (Reed, Architecture of the TV). Displays are further enhanced by utilizing electricity voltage on the LCD TV set panel.
As a result of such technical differences, a conclusion can be drawn that plasma TV sets are better in comparison to LCD TV sets when it comes to lighting (Howard, TV Comparisons: Modern). Also, many users have noted that plasma screens give an enhanced black color display as compared to LCD screens. In addition, a plasma TV affords better viewing angles.
Another crucial criterion to consider whenever we compare two products of everyday use is the pricing range. The price of any TV set depends on the display diameter and the stylistic configuration of the device. One may spend up to a million dollars on a TV set that was designed and custom made exclusively for their interior, and may even be inlaid with precious stones or a designer label. However, when we aim to compare two products based on their cost, we need to select two equally-sized, factory-made for mass consumption products of one or two popular brands, and compare their prices. An average plasma TV is cheaper than an LCD TV. This is largely due to the fact that a plasma TV costs less to assemble, thus translating into a lower price (Fields, Price Comparisons of Viewing). The price criterion once again speaks in favor of the plasma TV. At the same time, when taking the price factor into account, we have to understand its changeability. Since LCD TVs are a much more current technological invention than the plasma TV, there is a high possibility that the price of LCD products will decrease palpably in the near future, as technological progress offers us new alternatives.
At the same time, it is logical to assume that the LCD TV will also have some considerable advantages that help it successfully compete with the plasma TV on store shelves and in consumers’ households. One such important advantage of the LCD TV would be its lifespan. LCD TVs have a longer lifespan as opposed to the plasma TV (Franz, TV Statistics). It also has superior screen resolution. This would be a decisive factor to choose LCD over plasma for those consumers who enjoy playing high-resolution video games on their TVs. However, this would not greatly matter to an average TV viewer, since a plasma TV perfectly copes with the other tasks of a regular TV set without any resolution imperfections for the viewer.
Ultimately, technology matters less when it comes to obtaining such a popular domestic device as a TV set. After all, it is about the reliability and safety of the device that every member of your family will use practically every day. Having compared the two most popular types of TV sets, I came to the conclusion that there should be no controversy between LCD TVs and plasma TVs. It is not about which TV set is more worth its cost, or which is better-selling, but about the purpose for which the TV set is being used. Notwithstanding the similarities between plasma and LCD TV sets, their understated differences might be crucial when taking into consideration the TV’s use, the environment, and location.
Buying the largest, most costly TV set that will occupy no less than a whole wall in your living room might not be one of the smartest decisions for a household with children and pets, while it would perfectly suit a hi-tech apartment of a young business person. Consumers should remember a couple of basic tips when choosing one type of TV over the other. For instance, if you want to fit a TV set into a huge space, then a plasma TV will do better due to the wider viewing angle and the lower price of big sizes. The debate about which TV set is better is far from over. In the end, the question lies more in the hands of the consumer. Next time you buy a plasma or LCD TV set, do not be surprised if your neighbor criticizes your choice.
1. Kith, Hendrick. Plasma TV Components. Hallwork Publishing. 2011.
2. Reed, Melanie. Architecture of the TV. Limpon Press. 2008.
3. Howard, Sarah. TV Comparisons: Modern. Francis Publishing. 2009.
4. Fields, Garry. Price Comparisons of Viewing. The Atlantis Times. 2012.
5. Franz, Liam. TV Statistics. The Seattle Daily. 2013.
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