English Writing Strategies

How to Write a Compare-Contrast Essay

In this article we look to  highlight the important points you need to write a good compare-contrast essay!

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

The five important points you need to write a good essay are:

  • Topic Choice (Purpose)
  • Thesis statement
  •  Audience
  • Arrangements
  • Transition words
categorizing as part of organization

We will look at how each of these points will help develop the paragraphs you need to write your essay.

compare-contrast ebook cover

Sign up below to get your copy of this eBook guide that shows how to approach writing a compare and contrast essay.

Click here to view the compare and contrast essay ebook in the shop!

What is a Compare-Contrast Essay?

A compare-contrast essay discusses two categories under one topic. Your topic can be broad, and your sub-categories can be branches from that topic.

When you compare, you are showing how the two sub-categories are similar

When you contrast, you are showing how the two sub-categories are different

recipe for learning new

For example, your topic can be food. The sub-categories can be choosing between fresh foods and canned foods.

You can choose to write a compare-contrast essay as a four paragraph or five paragraph essay.

In a four paragraph essay, you will have two body paragraphs since the other two will be for your introduction and conclusion of the essay.

In a five paragraph essay, you will have three body paragraphs since the other two will be for your introduction and conclusion of the essay.

The Benefits to Writing Down Ideas

This blog contains affiliate links to highlighted websites and/or resources. By clicking on the link and making a purchase we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Click here for full disclosure.

Writing down your ideas on different subject matters helps to compare and contrast different ideas. 

Students may find many benefits to writing their ideas down in a personal journal as a way to help them to compare and contrast different ideas. Promptly Journals can help keep track of your ideas as part of your recipe for success.

Click here to order your journal today!

You may find that improving your writing skills may also improve how you study. 

The Five Points to Writing A Compare-Contrast Essay

We will now look at the five points mentioned earlier in full detail, along with examples of what NOT to do when writing your essay. 

Watch this video that highlights the points we discuss below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

We hope after reading through these points you will find it easier to write your persuasive essays moving forward!

Topic Choice (Purpose)

What is the topic choice (or purpose) of a compare-contrast essay? 

It is to discuss how two different sub-categories that are represented under the same topic are similar and different, and it may try to show why one choice is better than the other. 

Therefore, before you begin to brainstorm for your writing, decide your topic, purpose, and your sub-categories for writing.

For example, let’s take food as our topic. The sub-categories to look at would be canned foods versus fresh foods.

With your purpose in mind now you can go ahead with writing your thesis statement.

Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is the focus point of the entire essay. You will highlight three important points that will help you compare and contrast your categories of your initial topic.

A good thesis statement is a short and easy to understand sentence that clearly gives the direction in which they essay will look to compare and contrast the points.

The rest of the essay will be what supports your thesis statement. 

The Audience

But before you begin writing the rest of your essay, you must first think about the audience that needs to hear your essay and be convinced.

You don’t have to mention the audience by name.

Instead, it should be clear in your topic choice and writing style who your intended audience is going to be.

The Arrangements

The sub-categories you choose will be discussed in the “body” paragraphs of your essay and supports your thesis statement by giving more details.

How can you arrange your compare-contrast essay? There are a couple of ways.

  • Block arrangements
  • Point-by-Point arrangements
Block Arrangements

The two sub-categories will be discussed in their own separate paragraph giving details to show the important points (two or three points) for each category. 

For example on the topic of food, with the sub-categories of canned food and fresh food, you can introduce the following details; flavor, health benefits, and cost when comparing and contrasting each food choice. 

Block arrangement type essays can be written as four paragraph essays when comparing and contrasting two categories. 

Point-by-Point Arrangements

For example on the topic of food, our three body paragraphs will focus on the three points we associate with our sub flavor, health benefits, and cost when comparing and contrasting each food category. 

Point-by-point arrangement type essays can be written as five paragraph essays when comparing and contrasting the three points associated with the two sub-categories. 

Transition Words

Transition words are very important in writing, since they help move the writing along, and makes it easier for the reader to follow the path along which the writer began their journey. 

Here is a list of common transition words used in writing essays.

transition words in persuasive writing

Now that we have covered the important points to consider when writing your essays, let’s look at what not to do.

What NOT to Write in Your Essay

In the slides below, you will find what NOT to do when writing your  essay.

A Sample Approach to Essay Writing

Below is a sample approach to begin each part of your essay as your consider the important points mentioned in this article.

fresh foods
canned food

A Sample Introduction...

With the introduction, you want to begin with  a generalized topic idea, for example, food.

And then narrow it down into two subcategories you will be comparing and contrasting. This will be the purpose of the essay. You can also add a persuasive element to your essay if you want your readers to choose one over the other.

You will end your introductory paragraph with your thesis statement (see below)

There are many advantages to purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables as an alternative to popular canned food items at your local supermarket. 

Sample Body Paragraph Introductions...

The follow is a sample of how to write your body paragraphs using either the “block arrangement” or “point- by -point arrangement”. 

While purchasing canned food is cheaper and more convenient, the flavor may be diminished because of all the extra chemicals and preservatives needed to add to the products’ shelf life. Relying mostly on a ‘canned food” diet, may result in increased negative side effects to your health. 

 A bag of apples might cost more than canned apples, but savings in health costs far outweigh the immediate savings at the cash register. Besides, pound for pound, fresh food is tastier, and often turns out to be cheaper than packaged food.  

A Sample Way to Starting the Conclusion ...

The following is a sample of how to start a conclusion…

 Many people forget that when they buy something that is canned, they are also buying the packaging. TV commercials on television successfully convince people that the decisions to buy canned food is logical, cost effective, and time saving, but facts about health and flavor prove otherwise.

We hope these sample essay approaches will help you in writing compare-contrast essays that help in school and in taking tests of English such the TOEFL iBT or IELTS

Related Topics

Join Us Today!

Final Thoughts...

Every thing that I have shared with you in this article, I have used myself in my university days. My writing skills have helped me find success in school, and when traveling around the world, writing down the knowledge I hope to always share with others.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful for building good writing skills that will help with your educational goals in learning for years to come!

Share Your Thoughts...

Leave us a comment below to let us know your thoughts on our ideas on the importance of building your writing skills in education. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.