Compare/Contrast Essay

Much of the following information on the Compare/Contrast Essay is taken from this source: McCrimmon, James M. Writing With a Purpose. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

The Comparison Essay

A comparison is a systematic strategy for analyzing and evaluating the similarities of two or more things. (A contrast is simply a comparison that emphasizes differences rather than similarities.) An effective comparison attempts to demonstrate one of three general purposes:

• Two things thought to be different are actually similar.
• Two things thought to be similar are really quite different.
• Two things, although comparable, are not equal--that is, one is better than the other.

You will need to develop your comparison according to one of two strategies:

• The Divided Pattern of Comparison (A +B)
• The Alternating Pattern of Comparison (A/B + A/B)

The Divided Pattern of Comparison (A + B)

Block

The most common strategy for developing a comparison is called the divided pattern. As its name suggests, this strategy divides the comparison into two separate sections, devoting the first half to a discussion of A and the second half to a discussion of B. The examples in A should be linked to those in B to unify the contrast of the two parts. One way to achieve that linkage is to follow a similar pattern in both sections. For example, if you make three basic points about A, you then should make three basic points about B. You can also arrange your points in the same sequence, devoting the same amount of space to each point, if possible.

The Alternating Pattern of Comparison (A/B + A/B)

Point by Point

In the alternating pattern for developing your material, the details of A and B are not grouped separately but are presented in matched pairs, sometimes in the same paragraph, sometimes in the same sentence. The divided pattern is more common, perhaps, because it is an easier pattern to organize and control, particularly in short essays. The alternating pattern requires you to organize your material more precisely, especially in a longer piece of writing. But the pattern is often easier and more interesting for the reader, because the point-by-point development reinforces the comparison with every pair of matched details and of the the balanced sentence structure emphasizes the comparison or contrast.

Comparison Essay Practice

1. Select a major point of comparison or contrast.
2. Brainstorm similarities/differences.
3. Line up the subpoints of your comparison.
4. Create a focus.
5. Decide which items you want to present first and last.
6. Tell what purpose your essay will have:
• Two things thought to be different are actually similar.
• Two things thought to be similar are really quite different.
• Two things, although comparable, are not equal--that is one is better than the other.

Practice topics:

• Compare Mt. Hebron High School and Centennial High School.
• Compare the short story form to the novel form.
• Compare a senior and a freshman.
• Compare poetry and the news story.
• Compare chewing gum and bubble gum.
• Compare verbs and nouns.
• Compare TV and movies.
• Compare the prom and the Beach Bash.

Now, complete this chart:

Thesis Statement:

`Major Points of Comparison               Item A                       Item B`
`1.  General                              Specific                     Specific`
`2.`
`3.`

(Be able to explain why you focused and ordered as you did.)

## Want an A paper? Just follow this rubric!

Comparison Rubric

D = These responses lack development and have insufficient information to complete the writing task. The little information included may be confusing or not relevant to the topic, resulting in a lack of clarity. The thesis is unclear. o These responses lack sufficient details and quotations to explain the topic, and the details present are often vague.

o A comparison essay organizational plan, if established, is not maintained.

o Errors in sentence formation interfere with meaning and confuse the reader.

o Errors in spelling, usage, punctuation, and capitalization are frequent.

C = These responses contain little development and have a minimal amount of information to complete the writing task. The thesis, though stated, lacks clarity. The information included does not clearly explain the topic, and irrelevant information interferes with clarity.

o These responses may have details and quotations, but the details may be too general or may not adequately explain the topic.

o A comparison essay organizational plan is established and minimally maintained.

o Errors in sentence formation are present.

o Errors in spelling, usage, punctuation, and capitalization are present.

B = These responses are adequately developed and have enough information to complete the writing task. The information is presented clearly, and irrelevant information does not interfere with clarity. The thesis is clearly stated and appropriate.

o These responses contain specific details and quotations that adequately explain the topic.

o A comparison essay organizational plan is established and generally maintained.

o Errors in sentence formation, if present, do not interfere with meaning.

o There is adequate use of transitions that "glue" the composition together and "clue" the reader as to what is happening next.

o Errors in spelling, usage, punctuation, and capitalization, if present, do not interfere with meaning and are minimal.

A = These responses are well developed and have enough or more than enough information to complete the writing task. The information is presented clearly through specific details. The thesis is clear and appropriate.

o These responses contain specific details and quotations that more than adequately explain the topic.

o The comparison essay organizational plan is established and consistently maintained.

o Sentences are varied and interesting.

o There is more than adequate use of transitions that "glue" the composition together and "clue" the reader as to what is happening next.

o Errors in spelling, usage, punctuation, and capitalization, if present, do not interfere with meaning and are minimal.

Appropriate Signal Words: similarly, in the same way, likewise, compared to, on the other hand, in contrast, in like manner contrasted with, on the contrary

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