A comparison and juxtaposition essay is a style of essay that points out similarities and differences between two or more subjects. It is ideal for demonstrating what separates and unites related things or concepts, especially if items are often confused with each other or unfairly lumped together.
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In this guide, we explain how to write a comparative essay.
The purpose of the comparative essay
Let’s say you want to write about how good renewable resources are. To do this, you need to introduce the reader to their alternative, fossil fuels. Only by looking at these two topics, we can conclude the advantage of one of them.
If two topics are related or define each other, you can better explain them both by demonstrating similarities and differences. A comparative essay works well with concepts that are often confused: the author tells readers what they have in common and how they differ.
How to write a comparative essay?
When writing a paper, you need to figure out two things: what are you going to analyze and how do you plan to structure the essay.
What’s in the beginning?
First of all, determine which objects/phenomena you are going to compare.
For inspiration, we give some examples of topics:
Opposite options for a certain category:
- fossil fuels and renewable resources;
- Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
- Related works of art or cultural movements:
- the punk rock of the 80s and grunge of the 90s.
People who are similar or related to each other:
- Elon Musk and Thomas Edison.
- The state of the same phenomenon in different periods:
- London in the 1600s and London now.
Two different but related places:
- The Roman Empire and the Greek Empire.
- Opposing theories or beliefs:
- Loop quantum gravity and string theory;
- evolution and creationism.
Opposing points of view or phenomena:
- liberalism and conservatism.
- fascism and Nazism.
As soon as you decide on the subjects of comparison, you can start generating ideas. For example, first list all the similarities and differences between the subjects. Then formulate the connections between them and decide which structure to use for your essay.
If you get stuck, try to build a Venn diagram. It will help you understand what common and different characteristics your comparison objects have.
How to structure an essay?
The most difficult thing in structuring is to understand when to talk about what topic. Basically, you have three options:
- block method (topic by topic): fully disclose one comparison object, and then another;
- alternating method (point by point): discuss one aspect of comparison within all the subjects of comparison, then move on to the next;
- similarities and differences: consider all the similarities between objects, and then all the differences, or vice versa (first differences, and then similarities).
The block method is usually divided as follows: first a block about one topic, and then a new one about another.
Using the block method, you can move back and forth through the pages, covering as many topics as you want. This method allows you to pay separate attention to each object but tends to weaken the connection between them a little.
Here you can break the structure into paragraphs /pages, and in each of them discuss a separate aspect of comparison. For example, if you are writing an essay in which you compare loneliness and having a relationship, one of the aspects of comparison may be the impact on the level of motivation of a person to achieve success in a career.
This approach works best when you want to emphasize the connection between objects or their absence.
The method of similarity and difference
The third option is very similar to the alternating approach when each topic is discussed side by side in one paragraph. However, the paragraphs are divided not by different aspects of comparison, but by what the subjects have in common and different.
The writing process
The writing process can be depicted as follows:
Brainstorming. As mentioned above, here you need to list all the similarities and differences between the subjects. You can use Venn diagram here.
Preparation. Looking at the result of the brainstorming, decide which structuring method is best suited in your case: block, alternation, or similarities/differences.
Draft. Here you are sketching out a future essay. Creating the draft is the longest and the most crucial stage.
Revision. When the first draft is finished, it will be easier for you to identify the areas that need to be corrected, edited, or rewritten from scratch.
Proofreading. You correct all spelling and grammatical errors in the work.
TOP 5 mistakes when writing an essay
For the best result, avoid common mistakes:
Inattentive work check. It is not enough to check only spelling and punctuation. Reread your essay and make sure that there are no unsuccessful turns, ambiguous expressions in it.
An insufficient number of details, long and tedious introductions. An interesting essay may lose in the fact that it lists statements that are not supported by examples.
An excessive number of words. There is a word limit for an essay, so the available volume should be managed wisely. In some cases, it is possible to refuse the details of a fact, especially if they are not directly relevant to the case. It is not necessary to distract the reader from the main topic of the essay.
Substitution of the concepts of essay and abstract. The abstract provides an analysis of the literature read, summarizes the facts indicated in the source, while writing it, distortion of the available information is not allowed. In the essay, the author must express his point of view, while no one restricts him in the presentation of facts and arguments.
Too long phrases, “overload” the essay with terms and definitions. Long sentences with a lot of turns are not proof of the rightness of the author’s view, in most cases, they distract the reader from the problem, lead away.
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