Comparison and contrast are thought processes we go through constantly in everyday life. When we compare two things, we show how they are similar; when we contrast two things, we show how they are different. We may compare or contrast two brand-name products ( for example, Pepsi and Coca-Cola), two television shows, two cars, two teachers, two jobs, two friends, or two possible solutions to a problem we are facing. The purpose of comparing or contrasting is to understand each of the two things more clearly and, at times, to make judgments about them. You will be asked in this chapter to write an essay of comparison or contrast. To prepare for this assignment, first read about the two methods of development you can use in writing your essay. Then read the student essays and the professional essay that follow and work through the questions that accompany the essays. When you begin writing a comparison or contrast paper, you should decide right away which format you will use: one side at a time or point by point. Use that format as you create the outline for your paper. Remember that an outline is an essential step in planning and writing a clearly organized paper. Developing a comparison or contrast essay
Considering Purpose and Audience
The purpose of a comparison or contrast essay is to make a point by showing the readers that two distinct items are either similar or different. Whether you choose to compare or contrast two items depends on the specific point you want to convey to readers. Suppose, for instance, the main point of your essay is that home-cooked hamburgers are superior to fast-food burgers. To convince your audience of your claim, you might contrast the two items, pointing out those differences – prices, taste, and nutrition – that make the homemade dish better. As you think about your own essay, ask yourself what two things you wish to discuss. Then determine whether you want to focus on the differences between the two items or their similarities. You may even decide that you want to do both. Remember that no matter what topic you select, be sure that your comparison and contrast is connected to a main point that readers can see and understand.