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How To Use Comparing And Contrasting Essay Examples Properly

Before you write an effective compare or contrast essay, you should be able to identify the differences between the two. Comparing involves noting only the similarities between two things or the similarities and differences. Contrasting involves perceiving only the differences.

Whether you are comparing or contrasting two subjects, you will need to use your examples properly. The most important thing to remember is to compare apples to apples; that is, make sure you are comparing similar aspects of your subjects and not completely different facets. Comparing apples to oranges will likely lead to a logical fallacy: the false or invalid analogy. The most common example of this type of fallacy is “all penguins are black and white, and all old TV shows are black and white, therefore all penguins are old TV shows.” Make sure your examples don’t fall into the fallacy trap!

Furthermore, you should find points of comparison that are relevant to your writing purpose. If you are writing a paper comparing one historical civil war to another, pointing out that both wars involved citizens of the same country fighting against one another is obvious and therefore unnecessary. In addition, pointing out that both wars involved people with dark hair would be irrelevant—unless of course hair color was an instigating factor in the start, continuation, or end of the war. In sum, you should figure out why you want to compare or contrast these two subjects. Any details that do not relate directly to this writing purpose should be omitted.

Moreover, you want to focus your thesis statement. You should develop your thesis argument only after you have completed your comparing or contrasting. You must know what you want to discover through your comparison and then actually discover it before you can formulate an argument about it. Your argument should be specific. Avoid a vague thesis such as “Novel A and Novel B have many similarities and differences.” Be more specific and tell your reader why they should care about this appraisal of parallels and variances. For instance, “While Novel A and Novel B both cover the same subject, a girl’s coming of age in poverty, the ways they handle the delicate issue, the message the authors intend to convey, and the events that lead to the dissimilar outcomes of each story set these novels apart and demonstrate that Novel B is truly superior to Novel A.”

Finally, you can organize your essay in one of two basic ways: point-by-point or subject to subject. In the point-by-point structure, you discuss one point of comparison at a time, mentioning both subjects. In the subject to subject organization, you discuss all of the relevant aspects of one subject and then all of the pertinent points of comparison for the other subject. The drawback to the latter type of essay structure is that it is easy for your paper to devolve into a list of points without connection or analysis. The point-by-point analysis is generally the more effective of the two styles because you can compare or contrast corresponding aspects of your two (or more) topics and offer analyses and explanations as your essay progresses, thereby avoiding the “listing” pitfall.

At the end of the day, choosing your subjects wisely and making only relevant points of comparison will help you develop an effective essay and develop successful examples to illustrate your points.


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