Anytime you’re presented with two or more objects, your brain will automatically look for ways they’re both similar and different from each other. And it does so naturally without you even trying. How incredible is that?
In comparing these objects, you’ll first recognize their similarities by using your senses—such as examining the color, texture, and smell of the objects in front of you. And your brain will then go on to discover more profound characteristics of the objects like kindness, intelligence, and empathy.
Of course, the type of similarities your brain identifies depends largely on the objects it’s examining. So, the words or phrases you come up with will likely be pretty different if you’re comparing two or more foods or two or more people, for instance.
Likewise, your brain will contrast these objects for you, noticing all the ways in which they differ from one another within a matter of seconds.
This process is helpful to you as a human because it provides valuable feedback you can use to make important decisions later on. And you can demonstrate your mastery of the compare and contrast process by writing a compare and contrast essay in school.
A compare and contrast essay is a formal piece of writing in which you examine two or more objects in detail and discuss the ways in which these objects are both similar and different from one another.
Following the basic essay format, your job is to communicate the objects that are to be investigated clearly, provide several examples of what these objects have in common and what they don’t have in common, and draw a conclusion about the similarities and differences you find.
To take it a step further, you may also look into why these objects are often confused for each other or why they are thought to be total opposites when, in fact, they are quite unique.
If you’re being asked to write a compare and contrast essay in school, the purpose of the assignment is to demonstrate your ability to examine two or more objects in depth and communicate your thoughts about these objects in a logical way. With this helpful guide, you are more than ready to turn in your best essay yet.
The requirements for your compare and contrast essay will be very different from year to year and from teacher to teacher. That’s why asking lots of questions and following your essay rubric carefully is so important.
In general, your teacher will be looking to see that you:
The above list will help you stay on track so that you can complete your essay in a timely manner and receive the grade you’ve worked so hard to earn.
Any two objects in the world can be compared and contrasted. But, it wouldn’t make any sense to write an entire essay about the similarities and differences between a rock you found outside yesterday and a meal you ate last week.
Instead, compare and contrast essays often focus on tactile objects that are worthy of being examined or mental objects that you can think about in depth but never actually touch—such as emotions, concepts, and ideas.
Regardless of which option you choose, be sure to select two or more objects that you can compare and contrast without a lot of effort. You certainly don’t want to brainstorm a whole list of similarities only to get completely stuck when it comes to finding any differences.
To help you out, here are 10 compare and contrast essay topics to get your mental juices flowing:
There are so many available topics for a compare and contrast essay to choose from. If you need help narrowing it down, discuss your top choices with a friend or your teacher. And if you start brainstorming one topic that doesn’t seem to be going anyway, don’t be afraid to change topics at any time.
Similar to other types of essays you’ll write in school, compare and contrast essays typically follow the 5 paragraph essay structure.
However, think of this compare and contrast essay structure as a great starting point and add additional body paragraphs as needed to write the most effective essay possible.
The 5 paragraph essay structure includes:
To truly understand the compare and contrast essay structure your teacher is expecting you to follow, ask questions, review compare and contrast essay examples, and create an outline to inform your writing.
The art of writing an effective compare and contrast essay is something anyone can master—including you. No matter what skill or ability level you’re currently at, you can learn how to write a compare and contrast essay that examines two or more objects in a clear and sensible way.
Just be sure to:
With these helpful hints, you can write a compare and contrast essay that strengthens your skill as a writer and earns you top marks in class.
In order to make the most of your writing experience, review some samples of compare and contrast essays before you get started. This helps you identify examples of structure, phrasing, and vocabulary you wish to include in your own essay as well as those you don’t particularly care for and wish to avoid.
Reading words written by others can also inspire you, help you feel more confident in your own ability as a writer, and serve as an illustration of what certain types of writing should look like.
Below are several compare and contrast essay examples that are worth taking the time to read for various reasons. To make this task even more productive, take notes while you read and review back to them at a later time—especially if you get stuck while writing your own compare and contrast essay.
So, here are some compare and contrast essay examples you can use as a new learning experience for you:
Identifying similarities and differences between objects is a natural part of being human. As you get better at it, your brain will even be able to compare and contrast objects located right in front of you with those you’ve interacted with in the past.
So, what’s the point of writing a compare and contrast essay in school if this process comes so naturally to you?
Like other styles of writing, compare and contrast essays allow you to show off the incredible skills you’ve developed over time. They are like a window into the way your brain works, and they illustrate the judgments you’re making about objects each and every day.
Writing an effective compare and contrast essay shows your teacher the level of your ability now, and it helps them identify any weaknesses you may need to address in order to hone your skills even further.
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