Writing Notes: Compare and Contrast Essay (differences paragraph)

The purpose of a differences paragraph in a compare and contrast essay is to demonstrate unique qualities between two things.  Both of the items will have contrasting facts with regards to one topic.  For example, if the difference topic was running, a differences paragraph will show how one of the subjects is fast and the other is slow.  After stating the difference, the writer will add details about each item.  Separate paragraphs are good for each difference because two sides need explanations.  This process can be repeated as many times as needed.

A good differences paragraph will answer the following questions:

  1. The two subjects are different with regards to what criteria?
  2. What is unique about subject A?
  3. What are some details that demonstrate subject A’s unique quality?
  4. What is unique about subject B?
  5. What are some details that demonstrate subject B’s unique quality?
  6. Are they still different?

Here is an outline to your paragraph:

3A.  Name the criteria in which the subjects will be contrasted.

3B.  Tell about subject A with regards to the stated criterion.

3C.  Give a detail of how subject A is with regards to the criterion.

3D.  Tell about subject B with regards to the stated criterion.

3E.  Give a detail of how subject B is with regards to the criterion.

3F.  Lead the reader to the next difference.

Now, read a sample differences paragraph.

Sample differences paragraph for the compare and contrast essay

            The natural habitats of the cave bat and the field mouse are one way that these creatures are different.  Cave bats live in dark, damp caves.  Because of the limited sunlight, these caves are rocky and have no plant life. Their shaded dwellings protect them from the intense brightness of the Sun, which is essential due to their poor eyesight. However, the field mouse lives in grassy plains.  The amount of sunlight that shines over the plains provides vast areas of vegetation and plant life. This foliage supplies a perfect place for field mice to hide from their enemies. These two amazing rodents have other qualities that distinguish them from one another.

Answer the following questions.

  1. What is the criterion for this differences paragraph?
  2. How is subject A different from subject B?
  3. What are the details of subject A with regards to the criterion?
  4. What are the details of subject B with regards to the criterion?

Place the letters from the outline next to the beginning of their appropriate sentences.