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Comparison and Contrast




Comparison and Contrast discuss similarities and differences. Strictly speaking, comparison means finding similarities and contrast means finding differences. However, when an instructor asks you to compare two things, you are generally suppposed to compare and contrast.

I. Forms of Comparison and Contrast

A. To inform about an unfamiliar subject by relating it to another subject more familiar to the

reader Unfamiliar à Familiar

B. To inform about two unfamiliar subjects by relating them to a general principle or idea that

applies to both:

Unfamiliar & Unfamiliar à Familiar General Principle

C. To inform about some unfamiliar general principle or idea by comparing and contrasting two

representatives of it

Unfamiliar General Principle à Familiar & Familiar

II. Organizing a Comparison/Contrast Essay

A. Whole by Whole Method (Use when points of comparison or contrast are broad

and obvious.)

A, A, A, B, B, B

B. Part-to-part Method (Use when many details are involved.)


C. Likeness/Difference Method (Use when likenesses or differences are the main


Introduction, Likenesses, Differences, Conclusion

III. Pitfalls

A. The thesis is not narrow enough to compare and contrast two subjects.

B. The writer doesn't know enough about both subjects.

C. The essay doesn't have a point.

D. The presentation of each topic is unbalanced, leaving the essay ill-proportioned

and the reader confused.

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