To write a compare/contrast essay, you’ll need to make NEW connections and/or express NEW differences between two things. The key word here…is NEW!
- Choose 2 things that could go in the same category, but are also quite different. Good choices might be:
- Basketball & Football (both sports)
- Horses & Cats (both animals, but different in many ways)
- Writing & Singing (both art forms, but different in many ways)
- Gather your ideas by writing down characteristics of each thing. Note the differences and similarities between them.
- Ask yourself these important questions before you begin writing your draft:
Does my instructor want me to compare AND contrast, or am I only being asked to do one of those things?
Some instructors prefer that you only write about the differences between two things, while others want you to focus on explaining the similarities as well. Either way, you'll need to make sure that your thesis statement reflects your instructor's expectations. For example, if I wanted to write about Social Networking sites, I'd need to write different thesis statements depending on my compare/contrast assignment.
Sample thesis statement for contrast paper: In terms of social networking sites, Facebook focuses on presenting your daily life to others, whereas MySpace allows you to focus more on demonstrating your personal style.
Sample thesis statement for compare/contrast paper: While both Facebook and MySpace allow you to meet other users who have similar interests, only MySpace allows you to demonstrate your personal style.
Are these 2 things similar and/or different, in at least one meaningful way?
If you want to write a successful compare/contrast essay, you'll need to avoid writing about really obvious differences and similarities. For example:
- We all know that horses are larger than cats.
- We also know that basketball teams contain less players than football teams.
Tell us something we don't know (or might not notice)!
It would be better to write about how sensitive both horses and cats are to human needs and emotions. You could also suggest that though both basketball and football require a lot of teamwork, basketball players are expected to be a lot more versatile than football players.
You don't have to be a genius to write an interesting compare/contrast essay--you just have to look at ordinary things in a new way!
Do I know enough about my topic to write an effective compare/contrast essay?
Unless you're being asked to do some research as part of your compare/contrast project, make sure that you choose 2 things that you feel comfortable discussing, at length.
Your instructor may ask for multiple similarities and differences--make sure you're prepared to write a well-developed, meaningful essay on a topic that you know well before you get started!
Organizing Your Compare and Contrast Paper
There are two primary ways to organize your compare and contrast paper.
Chunking: placing all of the information for each individual subject in one place (chunk), and then using similarities as transitions.
Here’s a sample outline:
- Jane is distinct because…
- Jane is similar to Alice in these ways
- Alice is distinct because…
Piecing: giving pieces of the information for each individual subject in each paragraph—arranging the information by topic rather than by subject.
Here’s a sample outline:
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s appearances
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s backgrounds
- Differences and Similarities in Jane and Alice’s interests
Compare the feeling you get when you earn an A on a paper to how you feel when you get a D on a paper. There’s really no comparison, is there?
My goal in writing this post is for you learn more about compare and contrast essays, so you can skip that wretched feeling of getting a D and instead feel that euphoric “I earned an A and want to break out my happy dance” feeling.
Check out these examples that not only make cool comparisons but also help you see what a good comparison essay looks like. (You can do your happy dance later.)
Compare and Contrast Essay Resources
Before you start any paper, you need to have an understanding of how to write it. If you need a bit of a refresher on the basics of a compare and contrast essay, check out these two posts.
If you have a pretty good sense of how to write a compare and contrast paper but need a topic before you can even begin to think about writing, here are 49 Compare and Contrast Essay Topics to Help You Get Started.
Need some more topic inspiration? Browse through some additional examples of comparison essays.
If you’ve got the how and the topic mastered but aren’t sure how to get started, This Compare and Contrast Essay Outline Will Help You Beat Writer’s Block. Or give these additional tips and handy worksheets a try.
Ready to see two comparison essay examples that make cool comparisons? Keep reading!
2 Comparison Essay Examples That Make Cool Comparisons
Comparison essay example #1: A Comparison of Disney Princesses
The first essay focuses on basic comparisons of two common Disney princesses. My comments within the paper highlight both strengths and areas in need of improvement.
Before I address the content of the essay, let’s talk about the title. It would be an understatement to say that this title lacks creativity. Learn how to write a better title by reading How to Write Good Essay Titles That Are…Good.
(*Click images below to enlarge)
Comparison essay example #2: Hinduism and Buddhism Compare and Contrast Essay
This paper focuses on a comparison of Hinduism and Buddhism. Like the previous essay, the title of this paper needs work. This essay, though, provides a solid comparison of the two religions.
Remember, when writing a compare and contrast essay, it’s impossible to compare every aspect. The key to a successful essay is choosing two or three key points to compare. Here, the writer successfully compares rebirth and the steps one must take in each religion to escape rebirth.
As with the previous example, I’ve included a few comments about what this writer does well and what the writer might do to improve this paper.
(*Click images below to enlarge)
The Finishing Touches
It’s your turn to shine and use all that you’ve learned to write an impressive, even awe-inspiring compare and contrast essay. Remember the strong (and weak) elements highlighted in the comparison essay examples to keep you on the right path.
These resources might help you avoid some of the shortcomings highlighted in the comparison essay examples:
If, by chance, you’re studying poetry and need a little more help, check out these two posts:
Also try using the compare and contrast thesis statement builder.
Once your paper is complete, let our Kibin editors polish your paper to perfection.
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.