Suppose that you are writing a paper comparing two novels. However, if you were writing a paper for a class on typesetting or on how illustrations are used to enhance novels, the typeface and presence or absence of illustrations might be absolutely critical to include in your final paper. Sometimes a particular point of comparison or contrast might be relevant but not terribly revealing or interesting. Talking about the different ways nature is depicted or the different aspects of nature that are emphasized might be more interesting and show a more sophisticated understanding of the poems.
Be careful, though—although this thesis is fairly specific and does propose a simple argument that atmosphere and delivery make the two pizza places different , your instructor will often be looking for a bit more analysis. Again, thinking about the context the class provides may help you answer such questions and make a stronger argument. You may find our handout on constructing thesis statements useful at this stage.
The danger of this subject-by-subject organization is that your paper will simply be a list of points: a certain number of points in my example, three about one subject, then a certain number of points about another.
This is usually not what college instructors are looking for in a paper—generally they want you to compare or contrast two or more things very directly, rather than just listing the traits the things have and leaving it up to the reader to reflect on how those traits are similar or different and why those similarities or differences matter. Thus, if you use the subject-by-subject form, you will probably want to have a very strong, analytical thesis and at least one body paragraph that ties all of your different points together.
Rather than addressing things one subject at a time, you may wish to talk about one point of comparison at a time. There are two main ways this might play out, depending on how much you have to say about each of the things you are comparing. Be aware, too, of the placement of your different points.
Our handout on organization can help you write good topic sentences and transitions and make sure that you have a good overall structure in place for your paper. The following words may be helpful to you in signaling your intentions:. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Make a Gift. If you encounter an assignment that fails to provide a frame of reference, you must come up with one on your own. A paper without such a context would have no angle on the material, no focus or frame for the writer to propose a meaningful argument.
Grounds for Comparison. Let's say you're writing a paper on global food distribution, and you've chosen to compare apples and oranges. Why these particular fruits? Why not pears and bananas? The rationale behind your choice, the grounds for comparison , lets your reader know why your choice is deliberate and meaningful, not random. For instance, in a paper asking how the "discourse of domesticity" has been used in the abortion debate, the grounds for comparison are obvious; the issue has two conflicting sides, pro-choice and pro-life.
In a paper comparing the effects of acid rain on two forest sites, your choice of sites is less obvious. A paper focusing on similarly aged forest stands in Maine and the Catskills will be set up differently from one comparing a new forest stand in the White Mountains with an old forest in the same region. You need to indicate the reasoning behind your choice. The grounds for comparison anticipates the comparative nature of your thesis.
As in any argumentative paper, your thesis statement will convey the gist of your argument, which necessarily follows from your frame of reference. But in a compare-and-contrast, the thesis depends on how the two things you've chosen to compare actually relate to one another. Do they extend, corroborate, complicate, contradict, correct, or debate one another? In the most common compare-and-contrast paper—one focusing on differences—you can indicate the precise relationship between A and B by using the word "whereas" in your thesis:.
Whereas Camus perceives ideology as secondary to the need to address a specific historical moment of colonialism, Fanon perceives a revolutionary ideology as the impetus to reshape Algeria's history in a direction toward independence. Whether your paper focuses primarily on difference or similarity, you need to make the relationship between A and B clear in your thesis. This relationship is at the heart of any compare-and-contrast paper. Organizational Scheme. Your introduction will include your frame of reference, grounds for comparison, and thesis.
There are two basic ways to organize the body of your paper. If you think that B extends A, you'll probably use a text-by-text scheme; if you see A and B engaged in debate, a point-by-point scheme will draw attention to the conflict. Be aware, however, that the point-by- point scheme can come off as a ping-pong game. You can avoid this effect by grouping more than one point together, thereby cutting down on the number of times you alternate from A to B.
But no matter which organizational scheme you choose, you need not give equal time to similarities and differences. In fact, your paper will be more interesting if you get to the heart of your argument as quickly as possible. Thus, a paper on two evolutionary theorists' different interpretations of specific archaeological findings might have as few as two or three sentences in the introduction on similarities and at most a paragraph or two to set up the contrast between the theorists' positions.
The rest of the paper, whether organized text- by-text or point-by-point, will treat the two theorists' differences.
In the central area where they overlap, list the traits the two items have in common. To make a chart, figure out what criteria you want to focus on in comparing the items. Along the left side of the page, list each of the criteria. Across the top, list the names of the items. As you generate points of comparison, consider the purpose and content of the assignment and the focus of the class. How does it fit with what you have been studying so far and with the other assignments in the course?
Are there any clues about what to focus on in the assignment itself? Here are some general questions about different types of things you might have to compare. You may want to begin by using the questions reporters traditionally ask: Who?
By now you have probably generated a huge list of similarities and differences—congratulations! Next you must decide which of them are interesting, important, and relevant enough to be included in your paper. Ask yourself these questions:. Suppose that you are writing a paper comparing two novels. However, if you were writing a paper for a class on typesetting or on how illustrations are used to enhance novels, the typeface and presence or absence of illustrations might be absolutely critical to include in your final paper.
Sometimes a particular point of comparison or contrast might be relevant but not terribly revealing or interesting. Talking about the different ways nature is depicted or the different aspects of nature that are emphasized might be more interesting and show a more sophisticated understanding of the poems. Be careful, though—although this thesis is fairly specific and does propose a simple argument that atmosphere and delivery make the two pizza places different , your instructor will often be looking for a bit more analysis.
Thesis Statement: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny. Here the thesis sets up the two subjects to be compared and contrasted organic versus conventional vegetables , and it makes a claim about the results that might prove useful to the reader.
The organizational structure you choose depends on the nature of the topic, your purpose, and your audience. Given that compare-and-contrast essays analyze the relationship between two subjects, it is helpful to have some phrases on hand that will cue the reader to such analysis. First choose whether you want to compare seemingly disparate subjects, contrast seemingly similar subjects, or compare and contrast subjects. Once you have decided on a topic, introduce it with an engaging opening paragraph.
Your thesis should come at the end of the introduction, and it should establish the subjects you will compare, contrast, or both as well as state what can be learned from doing so. The body of the essay can be organized in one of two ways: by subject or by individual points. The organizing strategy that you choose will depend on, as always, your audience and your purpose. You may also consider your particular approach to the subjects as well as the nature of the subjects themselves; some subjects might better lend themselves to one structure or the other.
Make sure to use comparison and contrast phrases to cue the reader to the ways in which you are analyzing the relationship between the subjects. After you finish analyzing the subjects, write a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the essay and reinforces your thesis. Both Washington, DC, and London are capital cities of English-speaking countries, and yet they offer vastly different experiences to their residents and visitors.
Comparing and contrasting the two cities based on their history, their culture, and their residents show how different and similar the two are. Both cities are rich in world and national history, though they developed on very different time lines. London, for example, has a history that dates back over two thousand years. It was part of the Roman Empire and known by the similar name, Londinium. It was not only one of the northernmost points of the Roman Empire but also the epicenter of the British Empire where it held significant global influence from the early sixteenth century on through the early twentieth century.
Washington, DC, on the other hand, has only formally existed since the late eighteenth century. Though Native Americans inhabited the land several thousand years earlier, and settlers inhabited the land as early as the sixteenth century, the city did not become the capital of the United States until the s. From that point onward to today, however, Washington, DC, has increasingly maintained significant global influence. Even though both cities have different histories, they have both held, and continue to hold, significant social influence in the economic and cultural global spheres.
London has a much richer past than Washington, DC, and consequently has a lot more material to pull from when arranging its collections. Both cities have thriving theater districts, but again, London wins this comparison, too, both in quantity and quality of theater choices.
With regard to other cultural places like restaurants, pubs, and bars, both cities are very comparable. Both have a wide selection of expensive, elegant restaurants as well as a similar amount of global and national chains. While London may be better known for its pubs and taste in beer, DC offers a different bar-going experience. With clubs and pubs that tend to stay open later than their British counterparts, the DC night life tend to be less reserved overall.
Both cities also share and differ in cultural diversity and cost of living.
Specifically, the Harappan people of the Indus Valley and the Xia Dynasty of Ancient China are two cultures that have many things different, but perhaps surprisingly, many similarities, too. One of the most interesting similarities between these two civilizations stems from the importance of rivers in both of the societies.
What this happened, various warring tribes were forced to come together in order to solve the problem and keep themselves alive, and this is what gave rise to the dynasty in the first place. At the same time, the Harappan Civilization also focused heavily on rivers, especially in the early going. The people built towns upon the Ravi River, which essentially gave the civilization its vitality. They used the river to help in trade, and it helped to create a more stable society.
People had been very nomadic during this time, but the Harappan recognized that with the help of water from the Ravi River, they could stay in one place and establish prosperity. Agriculture was one of the things that linked these two civilizations together. The Harappan Civilization and Xia Dynasty both depended heavily upon crops. More than that, though, these two civilizations are linked by the fact that both were able to develop and cultivate new crops.
Both societies might be said to be innovators in this realm, and it was very important to the development of both. With its agricultural power, the Xia Dynasty was able to sustain itself, giving it the military power to go out and conquer competing armies. This does give rise to one of the primary differences between the two civilizations. The Xia Dynasty was much more violent than the Harappan Civilization. While both were looking to establish power in the region, the Xia Dynasty was more willing to do so through tribal warfare.
This, apparently, was the way of the world during that particular time, as tribes had to fight off other tribes in order to take more territory and protect their territory from threats. This became a norm for the Xia Dynasty. When western countries invaded China and Japan in the nineteenth century, the two reacted differently.
Discuss the similarities and differences in how the two countries reacted. What were the similarities and differences between the two empires with regards to methods of political control in the Classical period? Han, China and Imperial Rome shared one common feature — imperialistic leadership. However, the two empires exhibited varied imperialistic features.
Discuss the similarities and differences in imperialist characteristics in the two empires. Compare and contrast the effects of racial ideologies on societal development in the Caribbean and the societal impacts of such ideologies in North America between and Both Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa witnessed the emergence of several nation states in the nineteenth century.
Discuss the similarities and differences in how these nation-states were formed. Different communities built their empires differently. The Mexican revolution of and the Russian revolution of are both well documented. How did the two revolutions compare? The Mongol occupied both China and the Middle East at some point between and