How to Write a Comparative Essay – A Research Guide
A comparative essay compares the two subjects and shows their similarities and differences. The subjects might have some close relation or maybe very different.
This essay type is a common assignment for school and college students. Therefore, it is important to learn how to write properly. In this blog, you will get a complete writing guide for comparative essay writing.
What is a Comparative Essay?
A comparative essay is a type of essay in which an essay writer compares at least two or more items. The author compares two subjects with the same relation in terms of similarities and differences depending on the assignment.
The main purpose of the comparative essay is to:
- Highlight the similarities and differences in a systematic manner.
- Provide great clarity of the subject to the readers.
- Analyze two things and describe their advantages and drawbacks.
A comparative essay is also known as compare and contrast essay or a comparison essay. It analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both. The Venn diagram is the best tool for writing a paper about the comparison between two subjects.
Moreover, a comparative analysis essay discusses the similarities and differences of ideas, items, events, views, places, concepts, etc. For example, you can compare two different novels (e.g., The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Red Badge of Courage).
However, a comparative essay is not limited to specific topics. It covers almost every topic or subject with some relation.
Comparative Essay Structure
A good comparative essay is also based on how well you structure your essay. It helps the reader to understand your essay better. Also, the structure is more important than what you write.
Therefore, it is necessary to organize your essay so that the reader can easily go through the comparisons made in an essay. The following are the two main methods in which you can organize your comparative essay.
1. Point-by-Point Method
The point-by-point or alternating method provides a detailed overview of the items that you are comparing. In this method, organize items in terms of similarities and differences.
This method makes the writing phase easy for the writer to handle two completely different essay subjects. It is highly recommended where some depth and detail are required.
Below given is the structure of the point-by-point method.
- Paragraph 1: Point 1 (Item A and B)
- Paragraph 2: Point 2 (Item A and B)
- Paragraph 3: Point 3 (Item A and B)
2. Block Method
The block method is the easiest as compared to the point-by-point method. In this method, you divide the information in terms of parameters. It means that the first paragraph compares the first subject and all their items, then the second one compares the second, and so on.
However, make sure that you write the subject in the same order. This method is best for lengthy essays and complicated subjects.
Here is the structure of the block method.
- Paragraph 1: Item A (Point 1, 2, and 3)
- Paragraph 2: Item B (Point 1, 2, and 3)
Therefore, keep these methods in mind and choose the one according to the chosen subject.
How to Start a Comparative Essay?
Here, we have gathered some steps that you should follow to start a well-written comparative essay.
1. Read the Instructions Carefully
Before starting, you have to analyze the question or essay prompt carefully. Sometimes, you have a great idea in your mind, but it does not match the prompt. Therefore, look over the prompt and create a list of the key phrases. Also, check whether any limits are placed on your topic.
2. Choose a Topic
The foremost step in writing a comparative essay is to choose a suitable topic. Choose a topic or theme that is interesting to write about and appeals to the reader. An interesting essay topic motivates the reader to know about the subject. Also, try to avoid complicated topics for your comparative essay.
3. Develop a List of Similarities and Differences
Create a list of similarities and differences between two subjects that you want to include in the essay. Moreover, this list helps you decide the basis of your comparison by constructing your initial plan. Evaluate the list and establish your argument and thesis statement.
4. Establish the Basis for Comparison
The basis for comparison is the ground for you to compare the subjects. In most cases, it is assigned to you, so check your assignment or prompt.
Furthermore, the main goal of the comparison essay is to inform the reader of something interesting. It means that your subject must be unique to make your argument interesting.
5. Do the Research
In this step, you have to gather information for your subject. If your comparative essay is about social issues, historical events, or science-related topics, you must do in-depth research.
However, make sure that you gather data from credible sources and cite them properly in the essay.
6. Create a Comparative Essay Thesis Statement
The thesis statement decides whether the similarities, on the whole, dominate the differences or vice versa. Your thesis statement will be clear and concise.
Therefore, develop the thesis statement that covers your entire essay. With the help of a thesis statement, you will easily stick to the essay’s main core.
How to Write a Comparative Essay?
After writing the thesis statement, you will have to organize your content. The organization makes your essay structured and keeps you on the right path.
Here are some steps you do after creating the thesis statement. It will help you to organize and write a great comparative essay.
1. Comparative Essay Outline
Write a proper comparative essay outline and include all the main information that you add to your essay. Here the structure of the outline is similar to the traditional essay outline. It consists of the following parts: introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
2. Comparative Essay Introduction
The introduction is the first part of an essay that the readers see. Therefore, you have to think about the hook statement. It is a statement that you include at the beginning of the introductory paragraph to grab the reader’s attention.
Then, you can move to the main goal of the essay. Provide some background information and conclude the introduction with a thesis statement.
3. Comparative Essay Body Paragraphs
The body of an essay will give the reader everything that they want to know about the subject. Write all the information clearly and concisely.
The following are the tips that you need to follow for writing essay body paragraphs.
- The topic sentence is placed at the start of the essay.
- Each point of comparison is discussed in a separate paragraph.
- The essay body usually consists of three paragraphs, but it depends on your chosen subject.
- Use different transition words within and between the paragraphs.
- Each paragraph contains enough and meaningful information.
- The last sentences of the paragraph include a low-level conclusion.
4. Comparative Essay Conclusion
In this section, you need to restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points. Also, remind the reader why it is important to compare these two particular subjects. However, try to avoid writing any additional information in the conclusion of the essay.
Below is the detailed comparative essay template format for you to understand better.
Comparative Essay Format
5. Proofreading and Revising
Now, you have to start revising and proofread your essay. It is an important step to produce a good piece of writing. Never skip this step before submitting or publishing your essay.
Comparative Essay Examples
Have a look at these comparative essay examples and get an idea of the perfect essay.
Comparative Essay on Summer and Winter
Comparative Essay on Books vs. Movies
Comparative Essay Sample
Comparative Essay Thesis Example
Comparative Essay Topics
Comparative essay topics are not very difficult or complex. Check this list of essay topics and pick the one that you want to write about.
- How do education and employment compare?
- Living in a big city or staying in a village.
- The school principal or college dean.
- New Year vs. Christmas celebration.
- Dried Fruit vs. Fresh. Which is better?
- Similarities between philosophy and religion.
- British colonization and Spanish colonization.
- Nuclear power for peace or war?
- Bacteria or viruses.
- Fast food vs. homemade food.
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Frequently Asked Question
How long is a comparative essay?
A comparative essay is 4-5 pages long, but it depends on your chosen idea and topic.
How do you end a comparative essay?
Here are some tips that will help you to end the comparative essay.
- Restate the thesis statement
- Wrap up the entire essay
- Highlight the main points