How to write a comparative essay

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Every college student will be required to write a comparative essay and not just the one. From the beginning, it's important to understand exactly the nature of the comparative essay. You need to take two issues and compare or contrast them. It could be two famous people, it could be two comparable software programs, it could be two conflicts or international wars or it could be a comparison between different sized colleges, large and small. This article aims to show you how to write a comparative essay. The key word here of course is contrast. You are contrasting the two aspects of your essay. And the better you are at listing the various points regarding each aspect, the better your comparative essay will be. Concentrate on that particular point. The reader of your comparative essay will be looking for how well you describe each of the contrasting elements and how well your comparison of the two is described. That’s the key of knowing how to write a comparative essay.

What is the structure of a comparative essay?

essay writing ideasThe recommended structure is one which is used throughout the world of essay writing and particularly when creating a comparative essay. The three major elements of your comparative essay structure will be;

  • introduction
  • comparison paragraphs
  • conclusion

The comparison paragraphs are the main body of your comparative essay. The recommended approach is to list only one major comparison point in each of your main body paragraphs. You will need to check with your tutor or professor as to how many paragraphs are required in your comparative essay but it will be probably be two or three.

In your introduction you must include a thesis statement. This is where you will outline your answer to the comparison of the two issues in your essay. Make sure your thesis statement is clear-cut. Taking the attitude of sitting on the fence when writing a thesis statement is never recommended. And in fact the stronger your thesis statement in your introduction, the easier it will be for you to make a genuine comparison of the issues.

The comparison paragraphs need to be balanced. This is the key to a comparative essay. Provide a balance between the two issues. Describing only one aspect or describing only one aspect in far greater detail than the other will not win you points. You need to demonstrate a balance, a comparison between the two issues.

The suggestion is that you make the first comparison point the one with the most significance. This is the point where the two issues contrast in the greatest fashion or amount. Your subsequent body paragraphs will list less important comparison points.

And then we come to the conclusion. The likely conclusion to any type of essay will be a summary of what has gone before. This certainly applies to a comparative essay. You will reinforce your argument and reiterate your thesis statement.

Different types of essays

There are a variety of different types of essays which you will be more than likely required to write in college. The comparative essay is the one we have discussed in this article. Another type is the expository essay which requires you to explain the various pieces of information related to the topic. You are required to expose the facts. A third type of essay is known as a persuasive essay. Here you make a thesis statement which you then set out to prove to be correct. In other words you have to persuade the reader in a persuasive essay that your point of view is correct. You do this of course by offering evidence and therefore substantiate the claims which support your argument. And finally there is the narrative essay which is, if you like, a story. You become a storyteller and relate an event or something which has happened. Your ability as a storyteller is just as important as your understanding of the topic and your attention to detail.


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