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The Writer’s Reference Book


Module H – Comparison and Contrast – Hint Sheet

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 supposed to compare and contrast.

  1. Forms of Comparison and Contrast
    1. To inform about an unfamiliar subject by relating it to another subject more familiar to the reader
    2. To inform about two unfamiliar subjects by relating them to a general principle or idea that applies to both:
    3. To inform about some unfamiliar general principle or idea by comparing and contrasting two representatives of it
  2. Organizing a Comparison/Contrast Essay
    1. Whole by Whole Method (Use when points of comparison or contrast are broad and obvious.)
      A, A, A, B, B, B
    2. Part-to-part Method (Use when many details are involved.)
      A B, AB, AB
    3. Likeness/Difference Method (Use when likenesses or differences are the main point.)
  3. Pitfalls
    1. The thesis is not narrow enough to compare and contrast two subjects.
    2. The writer doesn’t know enough about both subjects.
    3. The essay doesn’t have a point.
    4. The presentation of each topic is unbalanced, leaving the essay ill-proportioned and the reader confused.
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