How to Write a Comparative Essay. Perhaps you have been assigned a comparative essay in class, or need to write a comprehensive comparative report for work. In order to write a stellar comparative essay, you have to start off by picking two subjects that have enough similarities and differences to be compared in a meaningful way, such as two sports teams or comparative essay structure example systems of government.
Once you have that, then you have to find at least two or three points of comparison and use research, facts, and well-organized paragraphs to impress and captivate your readers. Writing the comparative essay is an important skill that you will use many times throughout your scholastic career. Analyze the question or essay prompt carefully. You may have a great idea for a paper in your head, but if it doesn’t perfectly match the prompt, you may not create the product your instructor has asked for.
Keep a list of these things by you as you work. Many comparative essay assignments will signal their purpose by using words such as “compare,” “contrast,” “similarities,” and “differences” in the language of the prompt. Also see whether there are any limits placed on your topic. Understand the type of comparison essay you are being asked to write. For these essays, simply pointing out that things are similar or different will not be sufficient. The assignment will generally ask guiding questions if you are expected to incorporate comparison as part of a larger assignment.
In other words, you will need to make an evaluative or analytical argument about those approaches. If you’re unclear on what the essay prompt is asking you to do, talk with your instructor. It’s much better to clarify questions up front than discover you’ve written the entire essay incorrectly. List similarities and differences between the items you are comparing. Even though you are being asked to write a comparison essay, the inclusion of contrasting material is also implied. The best place to start is to write a list of things that the items you are comparing have in common as well as differences between them.
It is likely that you will not be able to write about everything on your list. Read through the list and try to identify a theme or patterns among items that are listed. This can help you decide on the basis of your comparison. You may want to develop a system such as highlighting different types of similarities in different colors, or use different colours if you are using an electronic device. For example, if you are comparing two novels, you may want to highlight similarities in characters in pink, settings in blue, and themes or messages in green. Establish the basis for your comparison. This provides the context for your comparison: how will you examine these two things?
The basis for your comparison may be assigned to you. Be sure to check your assignment or prompt. A basis for comparison may have to do with a theme, characteristics, or details about two different things. Research your subjects of comparison. Although you want to have a thorough understanding of both things being compared, it’s important not to provide more details than the assignment can handle. Compare a few aspects of each topic instead of trying to cover both topics comprehensively.
Research may not be required or appropriate for your particular assignment. If your comparative essay is not meant to include research, you should avoid including it. A comparative essay about historical events, social issues, or science-related topics are more likely to require research, while a comparison of two works of literature are less likely to require research. Every essay should be controlled by a clear, concise thesis statement. Even if your basis for comparison was assigned to you, you need to express in a single sentence why you are comparing the two items.
The comparison should reveal something about the nature of the items or their relationship to each other, and your thesis statement should express that argument. Before you start writing, it is best to plan out your organization strategy. A unique feature of a comparative essay is that you have several different organizational strategies to choose from. Use a traditional outline form if you would like to, but even a simple list of bulleted points in the order that you plan to present them would help. Use a mixed paragraphs method.
Address both halves of the comparison in each paragraph. This means that the first paragraph will compare the first aspect of each subject, the second will compare the second, and so on, making sure to always address the subjects in the same order. The advantages of this structure are that it continually keeps the comparison in the mind of the reader and forces you, the writer, to pay equal attention to each side of the argument. This method is especially recommended for lengthy essays or complicated subjects where both the writer and reader can easily become lost. Alternate the subjects in each paragraph.