A comparison essay usually discusses
the similarities between two things, people, concepts,
places, etc. The essay could be a neutral argument,
or an effort to persuade the reader of the benefits
of one thing, person, or concept. It could also
be written simply to amuse the reader, or to reach
at an insight into human nature. The essay could
discuss both similarities and dissimilarities,
or it could just focus on one or the other.
This worksheet can help you get started writing
and organizing your comparison/contrast essay.
Identify the two subjects that you will be comparing/contrasting
and write several paragraphs about each one. Don't
be concerned at this point about how the two are
similar or different. Simply spill out everything
you know about each subject. Work q uickly, and
don't stop to judge or edit what you've written.
Make a list of the similarities between your subjects,
and on a separate page make a list of the differences.
Again, do this quickly and without considering
whether each idea is good or not; simply spill
all of your thoughts onto paper.
Evaluating Your Lists
Review your lists and look for one or two points
that are surprising, puzzling or contradictory.
Did you find a similarity or difference (or a
group of similarities and differences) that you
didn't expect? Did you find something that is
hard to expla in or understand? Circle these ideas,
and then write a few sentences that explain what
the similarity/difference is and why it is surprising
or contradictory. Try using these sample sentences
to get you started:
Most people would expect __________ [about my
subjects] __________ , but in fact __________
[My subjects] seem __________ because __________,
but in fact they are __________ because __________.
If you can't find any points that are surprising,
puzzling, or contradictory, imagine that you are
explaining your two subjects to another student
who hasn't taken this class yet. What would this
student assume about your subjects? What would
surprise him or her? You might want to discuss
this point with a tutor, friend, or classmate.
If you still can't find any similarities or
differences that are surprising, puzzling or contradictory,
you might want to consider changing subjects.
If your assignment allows you to choose what to
compare, select one or two new subjects and begin
again with free writing.
Using the points that you've circled, ask yourself
the following questions. Write down your answers
- What causes these similarities and/or differences?
- What effect (or cost) do they have on the
subjects? On society?
- What do the similarities and/or differences
show about your subjects? About society?
Posing an Interesting
You are now ready to "pose a problem,"
which is the most important part of your essay.
Imagine that your reader is looking at your essay
and thinking "Why should I care about this?"
When you pose a problem, you explain to this reader
that there is some thing important about your
subject (a "problem") and that you (the
writer) have a "solution." Most writers
use their introductory paragraphs to pose their
problem, so when you have completed this exercise,
you will have written most of your introduction
Reread what you wrote in all of the exercises
above, and then try using the following sample
sentences to begin posing your problem. NOTE:
Posing a problem can be difficult, so don't try
to make it perfect on the first try. Plan to write
and revise these sentences several times. Ask
a tutor for help if you get stuck.
[My subjects] are similar/different in that __________.
This similarity/difference is surprising/contradictory/unexpected
because . . .
- it contradicts__________.
- we would expect __________.
- most people think __________.
- it uncovers __________.
It is important to rethink [my subjects] in this
way because. . .
- it keeps us from misinterpreting __________.
- it helps us understand __________.
- if we don't, we might overlook __________.
Essays Essay Sample