Writing Notes: Compare and Contrast Essay

A compare and contrast essay is an expository essay that gives information to the reader.  The purpose of a compare and contrast essay is to relay information in a clear and understandable manner.  Often, a compare and contrast essay will not prove a thesis or an idea.  In a nutshell, this type of essay shows how much a person knows about two things.

A good introduction to a compare and contrast essay will answer the following questions:

  1. What are the two things that are being compared and contrasted?
  2. Are these two things similar?
  3. In what ways are these two things different?

An outline for the introduction will look like this:

1A.  Tell the reader what two items are being compared and contrasted and make a brief

opinion statement about them.

1B.  Tell the reader that the two items have similarities but do not go into detail about

these similarities.

1C.  List the ways that these two items are different (this could be one sentence or

multiple sentences)

Sample introduction paragraph to a compare and contrast essay

The cave bat and the field mouse are animals that are intriguing and misunderstood. At first, the two creatures appear to be somewhat similar. However, under closer examination, these animals have distinct qualities that set them apart. The cave bat and the field mouse have different habitats. In addition to their living spaces, field mice and cave bats have unique diets. Finally, the public feels differently about each animal.

Writing Notes: Compare and Contrast Essay (similarities paragraph)

A similarities paragraph will highlight the commonalities between the two things of the compare and contrast essay. It lists a similarity followed by a supporting detail. The similarities paragraph is different than the differences paragraph because it is only necessary to show one side that is common between both items. However, the differences paragraph must show how each is unique.

A good similarities paragraph will answer the following questions:
1. What is similar between these two items?
2. How are they similar to each other?
This process must be repeated for every similarity of the paragraph.

An outline for your similarities paragraph may look like this:
2A. Make a topic sentence that tells the reader that they will be reading about similarities.
2B. List one similarity between both items.
2C. Add details to describe how the two items are similar.
(Continue to repeat 2B-2C until all similarities are discussed.)
2D. Transition to the differences paragraphs.
Now, look at a sample similarities paragraph.

A sample similarities paragraph to a compare and contrast essay

Cave bats and field mice share some similar qualities. For example, both of these incredible creatures are related to each other. They both are in the rodent family, and they are closely related to squirrels and rabbits. Because they are related, they share commonalities with regards to their appearances. The cave bat and the field mouse are both covered with fur. The fur on these animals extends from their heads all the way down to their toes. Their ears also look the same. Each has small, rounded, cone-shaped ears to help them to identify predators in the night. Furthermore, both of these rodents are most active during the night hours. Cave bats and field mice use the cover of darkness to find food while avoiding predators at the same time. Although they share a great deal of similar traits, cave bats and field mice are also very different.

Now, label the paragraph with the criteria from the outline.