How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

Apples and oranges. All you need do in writing a compare and contrast essay is take two subjects and show their similarities and their differences. When writing a compare and contrast essay, the basic essay form of title, introduction, three paragraph body, and conclusion makes it one of the easiest essays to write.

Before you begin writing, brainstorm to find similarities and differences between your subjects.
Subject Similarities Differences
Apples & Oranges Both are tree fruits, grown commercially in large orchards Oranges tropical, apples temperate
Apple juice and orange juice Apple juice has no pulp. Orange juice has pulp.
Sauce Pulp and peeling from oranges is used in sauce. Applesauce contains only the pulp of the pared apple.

Use your essay introduction to introduce both subjects and present the points you intend to make.

Format the body of your compare and contrast essay in one of several ways:
  1. You can compare and contrast different elements of each subject in each paragraph of your essay body. This is also called "point by point" comparison and contrast.

    Example 1:

    1. (Compare) Apples and oranges are both tree fruits often grown commercially in large orchards. (Contrast) However, apples grow in every climate and oranges need tropical temperatures to produce fruit.
    2. (compare) Although both fruits can be juiced, (contrast) apples are pressed and only the juice is bottled while both pulp and juice is squeezed from oranges.
    3. (Compare) Again, while fruit sauce is made from both apples and oranges, usually applesauce comes from the pared and pureed apple (contrast) while orange sauce may contain both the rind and the pulp of the orange.

  2. You can use one paragraph to discuss one subject, the second paragraph to discuss the other and the final paragraph of the body to compare and contrast the two subjects.

    Example 2:

    1. Apples are a tree fruit that is often grown commercially in large orchards. As well as eaten from the tree, apples are also both pressed into apple juice or pureed and processed into applesauce.
    2. Oranges are also a tree fruit, often grown commercially in large orchards. Like apples, they can be eaten from the tree, squeezed into juices or processed into orange sauce.
    3. (Compare and contrast points discussed in paragraphs one and two.) One big difference between apples and oranges is the way they are processed. Notice that while apples are pressed for juice, orange juice is squeezed from the orange. Another difference is that while apple juice contains only the liquid pressed from the apple, orange juice may also contain the pulp from the orange. Although applesauce contains the pureed pulp of the pared apple, orange sauce may contain bits of orange rind as well as the pulp of the fruit.

  3. You can also limit your essay to discuss only one similarity and one difference between the two subjects.
  4. You can structure you essay to compare only similarities or to contrast only differences between your two subjects.

Note: To avoid confusing your reader, it's best to follow the same order of representation in each paragraph. For instance, in example one notice that the order is subject one (apples,) comparison, and then contrast and followed by subject two (oranges,) comparison, and then contrast.

You may want to try a couple of different formats for your topic in order to choose which best suits your subject. In addition, using appropriate transitions between paragraphs is very important in writing the compare and contrast essay. Transitions help your essay flow smoothly from point to point yet keep your essay on topic.

Cue Words
Another technique in writing the compare and contrast essay is to use cue words that links one paragraph to the next.cue words. Cue words are clues to whether you are comparing your subjects or contrasting them and make it easier for your reader to understand your points.

Cue Words
  • Is similar to
  • Both
  • Also
  • Too
  • As well
  • Like
  • Differences
  • On the other hand
  • However
  • But
  • Although
  • Unlike
  • While

  • Like in any essay, finish your essay by summarizing the points you made in the body. Appropriate use of transitions and cue words help make your essay conclusion easy to summarize. Writing a contrast and compare and essay is as easy as comparing apples and oranges!

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