Comparative Essay Writing Guide
Defining Comparative Essays
As you might have guessed, a comparative essay is a piece of writing, in which you have to compare and contrast some items. In other words, you should find any similarities and differences in the things you are describing. You have to be thorough and systematic presenting your findings. You will have to stay focused on the topic and follow instructions meticulously to avoid grade losses. No matter what you are going to compare and contrast in your paper, you will need to research the topic in detail and be ready to communicate the results to your readers in a meaningful and easy-to-understand way.
All comparative essays must be presented from a third-person perspective. Try to avoid sentences that begin with "you see" in your paper.
Language & Grammar
- Formal academic language
- Professional terminology, depending on the topic
- Simple but well-structured sentences
- Evidence and examples used to substantiate the argument
- No slang or contractions
- Past tense is a preferred option
- Present tense used as an exception to the general rule, when needed
- Effective and meaningful links are used to connect the discussion of the key attributes to the main topic. Words such as "similarly", "in contrast", "likewise" and others should be used throughout the paper.
Organization and Structure
You can use a concept or mind map to organize your thoughts and arguments. You can also use a simple graphic organizer to develop a brief plan of writing. Feel free to choose any of the structural recommendations below for your paper.
- Whole – to – whole: Explore one topic and transition to the next one
- Similarities – to – differences: Discuss similarities and, only then, differences for both topics
- Point – to – point: Focus on the same thing in both topics and move onto discussing the next one
- Define the main terms you are going to use in your paper
- Include a strong thesis statement
- Add some background information to evaluate the meaningfulness and significance of your topic
- Focus on similarities and differences rather than some abstract attributes of the selected topics
- Do not forget to include a transitional sentence at the end of your introduction. It should be logically linked to your body paragraphs.
- Follow appropriate structure for each paragraph
- Each paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence
- Make sure that each paragraph is devoted to one topic. That is, discuss one topic or point per paragraph. Do not confuse your reader. If you are going to discuss similarities and differences point by point, you will have to include one point in every paragraph, nothing else.
- Include transitions between body paragraphs. Your paper should flow smoothly and coherently.
- You can use the words "in conclusion" or "in summary" at the beginning of your conclusion.
- Sum up the key points presented in your body paragraphs/
- Discuss the significance of your paper.
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