A compare/contrast essay can be intimidating at times as students are often confused about what to include and what not to. In many cases, such a topic requires one to analyze the similarities and or differences of two known different objects or options. Besides, it may require one to include both similarities and differences. To bring out the similarities and differences in a clear manner that can easily be understood, one should include not only the similarities and differences but also points that formulate a meaningful argument about the topic at hand. To successfully write a compare/contrast essay, one should formulate an argument and organize the essay.
To formulate an argument, the writer should identify two distinct objects that can be discussed meaningfully. He or she may consider two subjects that despite being in the same category have differences. On the other hand, one can choose two items that may appear similar but are different. The next step involves brainstorming where the writer brainstorms at the topic to decide the type of thesis to argue for or against. The Venn diagram, which consists of overlapping circles, is usually applied so as to visualize where the subjects being discussed are different and where they are similar (“The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill”). Brainstorming about a chosen topic is essential as it enables one to decide which points are the main ones so as to focus on them.
After brainstorming, the writer should now focus on developing a thesis. A compare/contrast thesis can take different directions. However, the main point is that the argument should explain why it is essential to put the two subjects together (Morgan). For instance, it should clearly and openly show the reader why it is desirable to have one subject over the other. Besides, they should lend a hand to the reader in making a meaningful comparison. Example: Whereas both Washington DC and New York City are exciting cities to live in for young professionals, they offer different jobs, social, and living conditions.
Once the writer has successfully formulated an argument, he or she should organize the essay. First, the reporter should decide the structure to take, as there exist many different structures. The first structure involves the subject by subject whereby the writer deals with one topic before talking about the other. This structure is important as it prevents the writer from jumping one topic to another. However, it does not allow the reader to understand the similarities and differences before he or she completes the whole question. Also, the writer may use the point by point structure which allows him or her to switch the points back and forth (Morgan). It is a preferred structure as it makes comparing and contrasting clear. The final structure one may opt to use the compare then contrast. Here, the writer presents comparisons first then follows them with contrasts. It is not only a common method but also a helpful one since it gives clear emphasis on how the subjects are different.
To conclude, writing a clear compare/contrast essay that can derive the necessary information requires one to plan on what he or she is going to include. Besides, it demands that one explicitly formulates an argument where the subjects to be compared and contrasted and evaluated so as to ascertain if they can be discussed meaningfully. Additionally, the writer can make use of various structures such as compare then contrast, point by point, and subject by subject to bring out the similarities and differences.