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Writing Effective Comparison or Contrast Essays

A Comparison or Contrast essay is an essay in which you either compare something or contrast something. A comparison essay is an essay in which you emphasize the similarities, and a contrast essay is an essay in which you emphasize the differences. We use comparison and contrast thinking when deciding which university to attend, which car to buy, or whether to drive a car or take a bus or an airplane to a vacation site. In this section, two classic organizational patterns of a comparison or contrast essay will be discussed. One is called block arrangement of ideas; the other is called point-by-point or alternating arrangement of ideas. Suppose you are interested in showing the differences between vacationing in the mountains and vacationing at the beach. You will then write a contrast composition. One way to arrange your material is to use the block arrangement which is to write about vacationing in the mountains in one paragraph and vacationing at the beach in the next. If you mention a particular point in the mountains paragraph, you must mention the same point in the beach paragraph, and in the same order. Study the following outline, which shows this kind of organization. The introductory paragraph is followed by the mountains paragraph, the beach paragraph, then the conclusion; the fully developed essay is just four paragraphs. Block Arrangement (four paragraphs) I. Introduction in which you state your purpose which is to discuss the differences between vacationing in the mountains or at the beach

II. Mountain A. Climate B. Types of Activities C. Location III. Beach A. Climate B. Types of Activities C. Location IV. Conclusion A second way to organize this material is to discuss a particular point about vacationing in the mountains and then immediately to discuss the same point about vacationing at the beach. This is called point-by-point or alternating arrangement. An outline of this organization follows. Point-by-Point or Alternating Arrangement (five paragraphs) I. Introduction in which you state your purpose which is to discuss differences between vacationing in the mountains or at the beach

II. First difference between mountains and beaches is climate A. Mountains

Second difference between mountains and beaches are types of activities A. The purpose of this essay is to contrast the climate. The beach offers activities that the mountain cannot offer and vice versa. but the climate and the temperature of these zones also determine the types of activities they offer. People can swim. play soccer. Mountains B. Vacationing at the Beach or in the Mountains People are always looking forward to their vacation period. play volleyball. There are many regions that have mountains where people can go and have a great vacation. Warm climate is one of the most important features that the beach has. Conclusion Application: Block or Point-by-Point Examine the comparison or contrast essays that follow. there are discos and restaurants where people can dance or party 2 . If a person dislikes cold weather. The temperature in those places is always hot. more conscious reader and writer.B. Both places offer a variety of fun activities. The sea and the warm climate determine the activities that are available at the beach. types of activities and locations of beaches and mountains. Canada is a country located in North America and contains many mountain vacation sites where people can go and have fun. Mountains B. The cold climate in the mountains is the first barrier to enjoying them. types of activities and location. Third difference between mountains and beaches is the location A. Five paragraphs or four? Block arrangement or point-by-point arrangement? Noticing these things will help you become a better. I think that the two most common places people choose for taking a vacation are the beaches and the mountains. In most coastal sites. I’m going to discuss mountains first. hiking. The three aspects I’m going to discuss are climate. and skiing are some activities people can enjoy when going to the mountains. Snow boarding. and ride water bikes. Beach III. types of activities and location. Sun and fun are two words that describe the beach. mountain climbing. he or she might have a hard time in the mountains. Climate is always important in order to enjoy vacations. The mountain and the beach are totally different. The three aspects I’m going to discuss are climate. and decide whether the authors used block arrangement or point-by-point (or alternating) arrangement. I’m going to discuss the beach second. Notice how other authors structure their essays. Beach IV. Beach V. mountain biking. There are many options where to choose.

and we are responsible for what we eat. It doesn’t matter what place a person decides to choose. Is its organization block or point-by-point? How many paragraphs does it contain? How many "differences" between fresh foods and canned foods does the author discuss? Consuming Fresh Foods Instead of Canned Foods Eating is an activity that we as humans do at least two times a day. Depending on what the person likes is what he or she will choose. Canned foods are much more expensive than fresh foods. (3) a paragraph about vacationing at the beach. Yet another difference between these two types of foods is the cost. the first block containing information about mountains and the second block containing information about the beach. Canned foods lose some of the original fresh food nutrients when stored. 3 . It is logical that the fresh foods will have a greater taste and flavor when consumed just because of the time in which they have been prepared. and cost. health benefits. The fun is 100% guaranteed. We live in a world where the variety of food is immense. in a supermarket instead of the market like the fresh foods. We decide what we are about to eat and how it will affect our bodies. and they require less work to prepare than fresh foods. People often choose one of these two options to spend their vacations. (1) an introduction. Comparing both types of foods we notice another difference. for example. Canned foods however. Fresh foods have great flavor and taste because they keep all their natural conditions. The following essay contrasts eating fresh foods and canned foods.throughout the night. (2) a paragraph about vacationing in the mountains. Acapulco and Cancun are two of the most beautiful and famous beaches in the word. There is a health factor that affects both of them. lack a lot of its flavor characteristics because there are some other chemical products added to the natural foods. but sometimes it is better to take a risk and try a different place to enjoy. Here the benefit of buying tinned foods is that they are easier to find. The most notable difference between these two kinds of foods is their flavor. This is the block arrangement. The purpose of this essay is to compare and contrast the differences between eating fresh foods instead of canned foods. I like the beach better than the mountains. Mexico offers many amazing coastal sites to visit. and (4) a conclusion. and also it has to be tinned with many conservatives and chemical factors that prolong the shelf life and apparent freshness of the food but could also become toxic if consumed too often. The three main differences are flavor. (399 words) Is the essay above organized using block or point-by-point arrangement of details? Note first the essay is four paragraphs. just open and serve.

(347 words) The essay above is the "classic" five paragraph essay that all non-native speakers of English should learn to write. Instead. As we can see it comes down to a personal choice. the explanation of the differences between the classic organizational styles of comparison and contrast essays. (2) the development of the first difference (flavor). each point stated and developed in a single paragraph. the three main differences in this contrast essay—flavor. Note that Persig's description of the differences between riding in a car and riding a motorcycle is not neutral. writers should support their own views. and cost—are stated both in the introduction and the conclusion as well.Here are the main three differences between buying fresh foods and buying canned foods. we often choose between fresh foods or canned foods. This essays also contains the "classic" point-by-point organization. the money and the importance he/she gives to his/her nutrition and health. but they rarely attain the degree of perfection of the essay above. by Heffernan and Lincoln). For example. The essay contains five paragraphs that contrast three differences between fresh and canned foods. for example. (4) the development of the third difference (cost). Therefore it is important that you consider your possibilities and choose the best type of foods for your convenience and lifestyle. The essay includes (1) an introduction. and (5) a conclusion. the following paragraphs are from the book. health benefits. exactly as the writer above described. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig. based on the time each person has. However. Whenever possible and appropriate. When deciding what to eat. (3) the development of the second difference (health benefits). How to Support Your Point of View though Comparison and Contrast It was stated in the first part of this paper that we use comparison or contrast in nearly everything we do. In the true classic tradition. My own observation is this: US kids are taught to organize and write five paragraph essays like this from early childhood. do you know the preference of the previous author? Did he state it directly? Why or why not? What other ways could this essay have ended? An important point to remember when writing comparison or contrast essays is that many times writers use comparison or contrast to support a personal point of view. (1) block and (2) point-by-point or alternating arrangement. Which do You Prefer? You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any 4 . Persig uses comparison and contrast to serve a persuasive aim: to show the reader why riding a motorcycle is more stimulating than driving a car (Persig. This ends the first part of this page.

and because you're used to it. and stating your organization always contributes to clarity. then tell them what you told them. Being able to identify your organization will not only help you in the organization of your own writing. so blurred you can't focus on it. what characteristics would you choose to contrast. After you finish writing. and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. You're completely in contact with it all. How to Write an Effective Comparison or Contrast Essay: Summary 1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Whether you use the block arrangement or point-by-point arrangement. then tell them. you're in contact with it all. the whole experience. Know what organizational style you are using. a passing observer. In your essay. consider which of the following options would YOU prefer. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing. the real thing. make your preference clear as Persig did when he contrasted the difference between vacationing by car or motorcycle. You're a passive observer. to further clarify how it would be possible to say what you want to say in your writing. In a car. State your organization. B. In writing a comparison or contrast essay. Vacationing in Paris or taking a three-week trip down the Amazon. and what support would you use? Can you think of any other topics that might be fun to contrast? A. Persig's choice of travel is obvious. the whole thing. On a motorcycle. read your essay from the perspective of your audience." An important objective in academic writing is clarity. Write like Robert Persig did in his book. you should be able to identify it. 2. however. It's right there. Finally. Err on the side of clarity! 3. On a cycle the frame is gone. and the sense of presence is overwhelming. yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime. to support your own point of view. use contrast to show your own preference. is never removed from immediate consciousness. you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. In a car you're always in a compartment. and why? To support your point in each essay. and the whole thing. Keep your audience in mind.other. How will they respond to your ideas? Will they understand what you have written? Will they agree with your main point? Will the support appear logical to them? 4. You're in the scene. you are in a compartment seeing just more TV. never removed from immediate consciousness. Growing up in a small town or growing up in a large city. but it will also help your reader follow the points you make. Remember the "straight line of development" that was discussed in the introduction requires that you "tell your audience what you are going to tell them. the same stuff you walk on. 5 . the whole experience. Say what you want to say. Be sure your reader can relate to your topic. not just watching it anymore. to persuade the reader which option you prefer.

D. _______________________________________ 6 . Working for large company or running your own business.C. _______________________________________ E.

You will compare and/or contrast Sonnet 18 with Sonnet 130.Compare Contrast Essay Assignment The purpose of this assignment is to practise your skills in interpreting Shakespeare’s style of writing. 7 . for different reasons. The compare/contrast essay is just that: BOTH a comparison AND a contrast of two individual works. It is also an opportunity to practice a common essay style in compare and contrast. most likely. It is a contrast paper because that element is presented differently in each of the works and. It sis a comparison paper because you will delineate an element that is common to two works.