How to Start a Compare and Contrast Essay

Posted: May 12, 2016 - to Essay writing assistance By: Emilie
Content how to start writing compare and contrast essay

Facts, facts and more facts

Before you learn how to begin a compare and contrast essay, it is as well to define the difference between a comparison and contrast. By definition, a comparison essay compares similarities or compares similarities and differences; whereas a contrast essay only deals with differences. The distinction is subtle but important.

This contrast or comparison can be made to show that a particular subject is better or worse than the other, it can magnify the differences or similarities to prove a particular point, it can display a whole new way of looking at something, or it can clarify something that is obscure or difficult to understand.

It is important that both points are mentioned equally to prevent bias in favor of one or the other. This is necessary as the balance of the argument can be undermined by trying to sway the argument too much in favor of one particular view over the other.

This contrast can be achieved in a number of ways; one of the most common is the block method where the object of the comparison or difference is examined subject by subject. The second method is where this is examined point-by-point, and the third is with comparisons followed by contrasts.

A great way of doing this is to use words or phrases that connect the similarities or the differences and show the comparison or the contrast.

Let's start with some comparison connectors for similarities; at the same time, as well as, compared to, same as, just as, correspondingly, likewise, similarly, in addition.  As you can see, all of these can be used to connect two separate points of an argument.

The same type of method applies to contrast connectors for differences; meanwhile, although, on the other hand, conversely, in contrast, on the contrary, unlike, even though, however.

Making lists

One of the easiest ways of organizing such essays is by listing, either on a piece of paper, or in columns on a spreadsheet, all of the points that you want to make. For example, if you were comparing the pros and cons of a cat or a dog as a pet, you might list the fact that cats can come and go as they please and can be left alone, whereas dogs, being pack animals, should not be left alone, and certainly not allowed to come and go as they please.

In this situation we could use any of the phrases above in the difference list - for example, “ cats, on the other hand, can be left alone …”

If we wanted to make similarities, we could use any of the phrases from the similarities list; again as an example, “ cats, as well, enjoy human company.”

As you can see, from what we have discussed so far, the most effective method of how to start a compare and contrast essay is to plan and note down as many of the points that you wish to make as possible. Think carefully about the way in which you want to compare or contrast the topics that you are discussing, and make sure that you have researched thoroughly all of the contentious and difficult aspects of whatever argument you are trying to make.

Have a look and see if other people have approached the same subject, and read through their essay paper, or notes, to try and see the way in which they have argued their case.

Another method of detailing the arguments is to use a Venn diagram. This is two ovals that overlap with the overlap being the point at which the arguments are either the same or different. In this example, you can see that the similarities are for animals which are both extinct and had wings. The same diagram system can be used for planning and preparing any compare and contrast essay.

Once you have the subject and the material that you want to use, you can then begin, knowing how to start compare and contrast essay, with an introduction to the topic and what you are trying to achieve. Whilst writing your essay, constantly review and revise what you have written. A good way of doing this is to read the essay aloud to yourself, or if you can get another person reading it, this will give you an opportunity to spot any errors or glaring mistakes.

You can then hand your paper in, confident that it is the best that you can do - and leave your tutor or professor to compare and contrast it with the others that have been submitted and mark you accordingly!

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