Compare-and-Contrast


As is the case with the cause-and-effect essay, the name "compare-and-contrast" name is misleading. While some believe that such and essay must present comparisons and contrasts, the best compare-and-contrast paragraphs or eassys focus on similarities or differences, not both.

Because of that, you have to decide which you will be doing, comparing or contrasting.

To make things more complex, the compare-and-contrast paragraph or essay come in two forms, product-by-product or feature-by-feature:

The product-by-product essay is arranged by product (Samsung/iPhone), person (Trump/Obama), place (Greece/Italy) or thing (Trees/Bushes).

In product-by-product organization, the similarities (or difference) the paragraph or essay would focus on the three major features of one product, say the Samsung (screen resolution/camera/price) and then the three same features of the iPhone:

  Samsung (Product 1)
    Screen Resolution
    Camera

    Price

  iPhone (Product 1)
    Screen Resolution
    Camera

    Price

In feature-by-feature organization, you could focus on the differences (or similarities) or each feature:

  Screen Resolution (Feature 1)
    Samsung
    iPhone

  Camera (Feature 2)
    Samsung
    iPhone

  Price (Feature 3)
    Samsung
    iPhone

Before you start a compare-and-contrast paragraph or essay, you have to decided whether you will be writing about similarities (comparisons) or differences (contrasts) and whether you will use the product-by-product or feature-by-feature organization.

If you are writing an essay on the differences between two products, you have to briefly mention the similarities in your topic sentence or introduction. For instance, you might say, "The Samsung Galaxy and the iPhone X look extremely similar, but have three critical differences."

Compare-and-contast writing is often used in advertising, to compare two cars or telephones. Following the format of the hamburger paragraph or essay, these essays focus on the least important feature first and then build to the most important feature.

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