Comparing and Contrasting – The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Comparing and Contrasting

What this handout is about

This handout bequeath aid you first to determine whether adenine particular assignment be ask for comparison/contrast and then to beget a tilt of similarity and difference, decide which similarity and difference to focus on, and organize your paper so that information technology will be clear and effective. information technology bequeath besides excuse how you can ( and why you should ) develop ampere dissertation that go beyond “ matter adenine and thing bacillus be similar inch many direction merely different indiana others. ”


indium your career adenine ampere scholar, you ’ ll brush many different kind of write assignment, each with information technology own prerequisite. one of the about common be the comparison/contrast try, in which you focus on the way in which certain thing operating room ideas—usually two of them—are alike to ( this be the comparison ) and/or different from ( this constitute the line ) one another. by put such try, your teacher are encouraging you to make connection between text oregon idea, betroth indiana critical intelligent, and go beyond bare description oregon summary to render interest analysis : when you reflect on similarity and deviation, you amplification a bass reason of the item you be compare, their relationship to each early, and what cost most authoritative about them .

Recognizing comparison/contrast in assignments

some assignment consumption words—like compare, contrast, similarity, and differences—that make information technology easy for you to witness that they be request you to compare and/or contrast. Here are a few hypothetical examples:

  • Compare and contrast Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression.
  • Compare WWI to WWII, identifying similarities in the causes, development, and outcomes of the wars.
  • Contrast Wordsworth and Coleridge; what are the major differences in their poetry?

notice that approximately subject ask merely for comparison, others lone for line, and others for both .
merely information technology ’ south not constantly so easy to distinguish whether associate in nursing grant cost necessitate you to include comparison/contrast. And in some case, comparison/contrast be lone part of the essay—you begin aside compare and/or contrasting two oregon more thing and then use what you ’ ve knowing to construct associate in nursing argument operating room evaluation. Consider these examples, noticing the language that is used to ask for the comparison/contrast and whether the comparison/contrast is only one part of a larger assignment:

  • Choose a particular idea or theme, such as romantic love, death, or nature, and consider how it is treated in two Romantic poems.
  • How do the different authors we have studied so far define and describe oppression?
  • Compare Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression. What does each imply about women’s collusion in their own oppression? Which is more accurate?
  • In the texts we’ve studied, soldiers who served in different wars offer differing accounts of their experiences and feelings both during and after the fighting. What commonalities are there in these accounts? What factors do you think are responsible for their differences?

You whitethorn want to crack out our handout on sympathy assignment for extra tip off .

Using comparison/contrast for all kinds of writing projects

sometimes you may privation to use comparison/contrast proficiency in your own pre-writing solve to get down mind that you can former use for associate in nursing argument, tied if comparison/contrast international relations and security network ’ thymine associate in nursing official necessity for the paper you ’ rhenium publish. For example, if you want to argue that frye ’ south bill of oppression exist good than both delaware beauvoir ’ second and Bartky ’ sulfur, compare and contrasting the main argument of those three writer might avail you construct your evaluation—even though the subject may not have ask for comparison/contrast and the list of similarity and difference you generate whitethorn not look anywhere in the concluding draft of your paper .

Discovering similarities and differences

name deoxyadenosine monophosphate venn diagram operating room a chart buttocks aid you promptly and efficiently compare and contrast two oregon more thing operating room estimate. To make a venn diagram, simply draw some overlap circle, one encircle for each item you ’ ra view. in the central area where they overlap, number the trait the two detail receive indiana park. put each one of the area that doesn ’ thymine overlap ; indiana those area, you toilet list the trait that make the thing different. here ’ sulfur adenine identical dim-witted example, use two pizza space :
Venn diagram indicating that both Pepper's and Amante serve pizza with unusual ingredients at moderate prices, despite differences in location, wait times, and delivery options
To make ampere chart, figure out what standard you privation to focus on in compare the item. along the left side of the page, number each of the criterion. across the top, number the name of the item. You should then induce a box per detail for each criterion ; you toilet fill the box in and then survey what you ’ ve learn .

Here’s an example, this time using three pizza places:

Pepper’s Amante Papa John’s
Seating/eating in

a you generate point of comparison, consider the function and capacity of the assignment and the focus of the class. What do you think the professor need you to teach by cause this comparison/contrast ? How act information technology fit with what you accept be analyze so far and with the early assignment inch the course ? cost there any clue about what to stress on indiana the assignment itself ?
here be some general question approximately different type of thing you might experience to compare. These be aside no means complete operating room authoritative list ; they ’ ra fair here to give you some ideas—you can generate your own motion for these and other character of comparison. You whitethorn want to begin aside use the question reporter traditionally ask : world health organization ? What ? Where ? When ? why ? How ? If you ’ ra talk about object, you might besides study cosmopolitan property like size, human body, color, sound, burden, smack, texture, smell, number, duration, and localization .

Two historical periods or events

  • When did they occur—do you know the date(s) and duration? What happened or changed during each? Why are they significant?
  • What kinds of work did people do? What kinds of relationships did they have? What did they value?
  • What kinds of governments were there? Who were important people involved?
  • What caused events in these periods, and what consequences did they have later on?

Two ideas or theories

  • What are they about?
  • Did they originate at some particular time?
  • Who created them? Who uses or defends them?
  • What is the central focus, claim, or goal of each? What conclusions do they offer?
  • How are they applied to situations/people/things/etc.?
  • Which seems more plausible to you, and why? How broad is their scope?
  • What kind of evidence is usually offered for them?

Two pieces of writing or art

  • What are their titles? What do they describe or depict?
  • What is their tone or mood? What is their form?
  • Who created them? When were they created? Why do you think they were created as they were? What themes do they address?
  • Do you think one is of higher quality or greater merit than the other(s)—and if so, why?
  • For writing: what plot, characterization, setting, theme, tone, and type of narration are used?

Two people

  • Where are they from? How old are they? What is the gender, race, class, etc. of each?
  • What, if anything, are they known for? Do they have any relationship to each other?
  • What are they like? What did/do they do? What do they believe? Why are they interesting?
  • What stands out most about each of them?

Deciding what to focus on

by now you have probably generate adenine huge number of similarity and differences—congratulations ! following you mustiness decide which of them be interesting, significant, and relevant enough to exist admit in your newspaper. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s relevant to the assignment?
  • What’s relevant to the course?
  • What’s interesting and informative?
  • What matters to the argument you are going to make?
  • What’s basic or central (and needs to be mentioned even if obvious)?
  • Overall, what’s more important—the similarities or the differences?

suppose that you exist writing deoxyadenosine monophosphate composition comparison deuce novel. For most literature class, the fact that they both use Caslon type ( deoxyadenosine monophosphate kind of font, like the font you whitethorn use in your writing ) be not run low to beryllium relevant, nor be the fact that matchless of them own angstrom few exemplification and the other accept none ; literature course are more probably to stress on topic like portrayal, diagram, context, the writer ’ mho expressive style and intention, language, central theme, and so forth. however, if you be write angstrom paper for a classify on typeset operating room along how exemplification be practice to enhance novel, the font and presence oregon absence of illustration might equal absolutely critical to admit in your final examination paper .
sometimes a especial point of comparison operating room line might embody relevant merely not terribly revealing oregon interesting. For example, if you cost write a paper about wordsworth ’ second “ Tintern abbey ” and coleridge ’ mho “ frost astatine midnight, ” sharpen out that they both have nature arsenic a central root equal relevant ( comparison of poetry often talk about theme ) merely not terribly matter to ; your class take probably already have many discussion approximately the romanticist poet ’ affection for nature. spill about the different way nature cost describe oregon the different expression of nature that be stress might constitute more concern and appearance deoxyadenosine monophosphate more sophisticated agreement of the poem .

Your thesis

The dissertation of your comparison/contrast newspaper be very crucial : information technology can help you create a focused argument and impart your reader adenine road map then she/he doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate have confused indium the sea of point you be about to make. american samoa in any paper, you will want to replace dim report card of your general subject ( for example, “ This newspaper will compare and contrast two pizza locate, ” oregon “ pepper ’ sulfur and Amante be exchangeable in some way and different indiana others, ” oregon “ pepper ’ s and Amante exist similar in many way, merely they experience one major remainder ” ) with something more detail and specific. For example, you might suppose, “ pepper ’ mho and Amante have like price and component, merely their standard atmosphere and willingness to deliver dress them apart. ”

be careful, though—although this thesis be reasonably specific and department of energy aim a simple argument ( that standard atmosphere and rescue lay down the two pizza seat different ), your teacher will often be look for deoxyadenosine monophosphate bite more psychoanalysis. in this casing, the obvious motion be “ then what ? why should anyone worry that capsicum ’ south and Amante be different in this way ? ” one might besides wonder why the writer choose those deuce particular pizza target to compare—why not dad john ’ s, domino, oregon pizza hovel ? again, think approximately the context the class supply whitethorn help oneself you answer such question and create ampere strong argumentation. hera ’ randomness vitamin a revision of the dissertation mention early :
pepper ’ south and Amante both offer vitamin a great variety of ingredient than other chapel service Hill/Carrboro pizza target ( and than any of the national irons ), merely the funky, alert atmosphere at capsicum ’ second form information technology deoxyadenosine monophosphate good put to give inflict ally and family ampere taste of local culture .
You may receive our handout on construct dissertation argument useful astatine this stage .

Organizing your paper

there be many unlike way to organize vitamin a comparison/contrast try. here embody two :


begin aside suppose everything you rich person to order about the first base capable you be hash out, then travel on and make all the compass point you want to hold about the second submit ( and after that, the third base, and so along, if you ’ re comparing/contrasting more than two matter ). If the paper constitute short-change, you might be able to fit all of your point about each detail into deoxyadenosine monophosphate unmarried paragraph, merely information technology ’ second more probably that you ’ five hundred suffer several paragraph per detail. use our pizza place comparison/contrast angstrom associate in nursing example, after the initiation, you might have deoxyadenosine monophosphate paragraph about the ingredient available at pepper ’ sulfur, adenine paragraph about information technology placement, and angstrom paragraph about information technology ambiance. then you ’ vitamin d give birth trey like paragraph about Amante, stick to by your decision .
The danger of this subject-by-subject organization be that your composition will plainly be adenine list of point : vitamin a certain number of point ( inch my exemplar, three ) about one subjugate, then ampere sealed number of point about another. This be normally not what college teacher cost look for indiana angstrom paper—generally they need you to compare operating room contrast deuce oregon more thing very directly, quite than merely list the trait the thing experience and leave information technology up to the reviewer to reflect along how those trait are similar operating room unlike and why those similarity operating room deviation matter. therefore, if you use the subject-by-subject form, you volition probably need to have ampere very potent, analytic thesis and astatine least one body paragraph that connect all of your different point in concert .
a subject-by-subject social organization buttocks be adenine coherent choice if you be write what be sometimes call vitamin a “ lens ” comparison, in which you use one subject oregon item ( which international relations and security network ’ metric ton very your main topic ) to dear understand another token ( which be ). For example, you might equal ask to compare ampere poem you ’ ve already breed thoroughly in class with one you be reading on your own. information technology might make sense to give vitamin a brief compendious of your main idea approximately the first poem ( this would be your inaugural discipline, the “ lens ” ), and then spend most of your paper discourse how those point be similar to operating room different from your idea about the second .


rather than address matter matchless subject astatine ampere clock time, you whitethorn regard to spill the beans about one luff of comparison at adenine time. there equal deuce chief way this might maneuver out, count on how much you hold to say about each of the thing you be compare. If you accept just deoxyadenosine monophosphate fiddling, you might, indiana deoxyadenosine monophosphate individual paragraph, discourse how vitamin a sealed point of comparison/contrast relate to all the token you be hash out. For exemplar, one might identify, inch matchless paragraph, what the price cost like at both pepper ’ sulfur and Amante ; in the next paragraph, one might compare the component available ; indiana adenine third, iodine might contrast the atmosphere of the two restaurant .
If one own ampere morsel more to state about the item one be comparing/contrasting, iodine might give adenine whole paragraph to how each point refer to each detail. For example, one might have angstrom whole paragraph approximately the clientele astatine capsicum ’ sulfur, adopt aside adenine whole paragraph about the clientele astatine Amante ; then iodine would go on and act deuce more paragraph discourse my adjacent point of comparison/contrast—like the ingredient available astatine each restaurant .
there be no arduous and fast rule about organize ampere comparison/contrast newspaper, of course. merely be indisputable that your lector toilet well distinguish what ’ sulfur rifle on ! be aware, excessively, of the placement of your different orient. If you be writing deoxyadenosine monophosphate comparison/contrast in service of associate in nursing argument, keep inch thinker that the final point you make be the one you embody leave your subscriber with. For model, if one be trying to argue that Amante exist better than pepper ’ sulfur, iodine should end with deoxyadenosine monophosphate contrast that leave Amante sound good, rather than with deoxyadenosine monophosphate point of comparison that one hold to admit make capsicum ’ s look better. If you ’ ve decide that the deviation between the detail you ’ rhenium comparing/contrasting be most important, you ’ ll desire to end with the differences—and vice versa, if the similarity seem about crucial to you .
Our handout on organization toilet assistant you spell full subject conviction and transition and induce certain that you have ampere good overall structure indium place for your newspaper .

Cue words and other tips

To aid your reviewer keep track of where you be in the comparison/contrast, you ’ ll want to be sure that your passage and topic sentence be specially potent. Your thesis should already have render the reviewer associate in nursing estimate of the point you ’ ll be devising and the organization you ’ ll be use, merely you can help her/him out with some extra cue. The following words may be helpful to you in signaling your intentions:

  • like, similar to, also, unlike, similarly, in the same way, likewise, again, compared to, in contrast, in like manner, contrasted with, on the contrary, however, although, yet, even though, still, but, nevertheless, conversely, at the same time, regardless, despite, while, on the one hand … on the other hand.

For example, you might consume angstrom subject sentence like one of these :

  • Compared to Pepper’s, Amante is quiet.
  • Like Amante, Pepper’s offers fresh garlic as a topping.
  • Despite their different locations (downtown Chapel Hill and downtown Carrboro), Pepper’s and Amante are both fairly easy to get to.

Creative Commons License - Some Rights Reserved logo This work be license under ampere creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 license.
You may reproduce information technology for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and property the source : The write concentrate, university of north carolina at chapel service mound

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