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Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay | Tips & Examples

Published on August 6, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

Comparing and contrasting is an important skill in academic writing . It involves taking two or more subjects and analyzing the differences and similarities between them.

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Table of contents

When should i compare and contrast, making effective comparisons, comparing and contrasting as a brainstorming tool, structuring your comparisons, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about comparing and contrasting.

Many assignments will invite you to make comparisons quite explicitly, as in these prompts.

  • Compare the treatment of the theme of beauty in the poetry of William Wordsworth and John Keats.
  • Compare and contrast in-class and distance learning. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

Some other prompts may not directly ask you to compare and contrast, but present you with a topic where comparing and contrasting could be a good approach.

One way to approach this essay might be to contrast the situation before the Great Depression with the situation during it, to highlight how large a difference it made.

Comparing and contrasting is also used in all kinds of academic contexts where it’s not explicitly prompted. For example, a literature review involves comparing and contrasting different studies on your topic, and an argumentative essay may involve weighing up the pros and cons of different arguments.

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As the name suggests, comparing and contrasting is about identifying both similarities and differences. You might focus on contrasting quite different subjects or comparing subjects with a lot in common—but there must be some grounds for comparison in the first place.

For example, you might contrast French society before and after the French Revolution; you’d likely find many differences, but there would be a valid basis for comparison. However, if you contrasted pre-revolutionary France with Han-dynasty China, your reader might wonder why you chose to compare these two societies.

This is why it’s important to clarify the point of your comparisons by writing a focused thesis statement . Every element of an essay should serve your central argument in some way. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with any comparisons you make, and be sure to make this clear to the reader.

Comparing and contrasting can be a useful tool to help organize your thoughts before you begin writing any type of academic text. You might use it to compare different theories and approaches you’ve encountered in your preliminary research, for example.

Let’s say your research involves the competing psychological approaches of behaviorism and cognitive psychology. You might make a table to summarize the key differences between them.

Or say you’re writing about the major global conflicts of the twentieth century. You might visualize the key similarities and differences in a Venn diagram.

A Venn diagram showing the similarities and differences between World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

These visualizations wouldn’t make it into your actual writing, so they don’t have to be very formal in terms of phrasing or presentation. The point of comparing and contrasting at this stage is to help you organize and shape your ideas to aid you in structuring your arguments.

When comparing and contrasting in an essay, there are two main ways to structure your comparisons: the alternating method and the block method.

The alternating method

In the alternating method, you structure your text according to what aspect you’re comparing. You cover both your subjects side by side in terms of a specific point of comparison. Your text is structured like this:

Mouse over the example paragraph below to see how this approach works.

One challenge teachers face is identifying and assisting students who are struggling without disrupting the rest of the class. In a traditional classroom environment, the teacher can easily identify when a student is struggling based on their demeanor in class or simply by regularly checking on students during exercises. They can then offer assistance quietly during the exercise or discuss it further after class. Meanwhile, in a Zoom-based class, the lack of physical presence makes it more difficult to pay attention to individual students’ responses and notice frustrations, and there is less flexibility to speak with students privately to offer assistance. In this case, therefore, the traditional classroom environment holds the advantage, although it appears likely that aiding students in a virtual classroom environment will become easier as the technology, and teachers’ familiarity with it, improves.

The block method

In the block method, you cover each of the overall subjects you’re comparing in a block. You say everything you have to say about your first subject, then discuss your second subject, making comparisons and contrasts back to the things you’ve already said about the first. Your text is structured like this:

  • Point of comparison A
  • Point of comparison B

The most commonly cited advantage of distance learning is the flexibility and accessibility it offers. Rather than being required to travel to a specific location every week (and to live near enough to feasibly do so), students can participate from anywhere with an internet connection. This allows not only for a wider geographical spread of students but for the possibility of studying while travelling. However, distance learning presents its own accessibility challenges; not all students have a stable internet connection and a computer or other device with which to participate in online classes, and less technologically literate students and teachers may struggle with the technical aspects of class participation. Furthermore, discomfort and distractions can hinder an individual student’s ability to engage with the class from home, creating divergent learning experiences for different students. Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

Note that these two methods can be combined; these two example paragraphs could both be part of the same essay, but it’s wise to use an essay outline to plan out which approach you’re taking in each paragraph.

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Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Comparing and Contrasting

What this handout is about.

This handout will help you first to determine whether a particular assignment is asking for comparison/contrast and then to generate a list of similarities and differences, decide which similarities and differences to focus on, and organize your paper so that it will be clear and effective. It will also explain how you can (and why you should) develop a thesis that goes beyond “Thing A and Thing B are similar in many ways but different in others.”

Introduction

In your career as a student, you’ll encounter many different kinds of writing assignments, each with its own requirements. One of the most common is the comparison/contrast essay, in which you focus on the ways in which certain things or ideas—usually two of them—are similar to (this is the comparison) and/or different from (this is the contrast) one another. By assigning such essays, your instructors are encouraging you to make connections between texts or ideas, engage in critical thinking, and go beyond mere description or summary to generate interesting analysis: when you reflect on similarities and differences, you gain a deeper understanding of the items you are comparing, their relationship to each other, and what is most important about them.

Recognizing comparison/contrast in assignments

Some assignments use words—like compare, contrast, similarities, and differences—that make it easy for you to see that they are asking you to compare and/or contrast. Here are a few hypothetical examples:

  • Compare and contrast Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression.
  • Compare WWI to WWII, identifying similarities in the causes, development, and outcomes of the wars.
  • Contrast Wordsworth and Coleridge; what are the major differences in their poetry?

Notice that some topics ask only for comparison, others only for contrast, and others for both.

But it’s not always so easy to tell whether an assignment is asking you to include comparison/contrast. And in some cases, comparison/contrast is only part of the essay—you begin by comparing and/or contrasting two or more things and then use what you’ve learned to construct an argument or evaluation. Consider these examples, noticing the language that is used to ask for the comparison/contrast and whether the comparison/contrast is only one part of a larger assignment:

  • Choose a particular idea or theme, such as romantic love, death, or nature, and consider how it is treated in two Romantic poems.
  • How do the different authors we have studied so far define and describe oppression?
  • Compare Frye’s and Bartky’s accounts of oppression. What does each imply about women’s collusion in their own oppression? Which is more accurate?
  • In the texts we’ve studied, soldiers who served in different wars offer differing accounts of their experiences and feelings both during and after the fighting. What commonalities are there in these accounts? What factors do you think are responsible for their differences?

You may want to check out our handout on understanding assignments for additional tips.

Using comparison/contrast for all kinds of writing projects

Sometimes you may want to use comparison/contrast techniques in your own pre-writing work to get ideas that you can later use for an argument, even if comparison/contrast isn’t an official requirement for the paper you’re writing. For example, if you wanted to argue that Frye’s account of oppression is better than both de Beauvoir’s and Bartky’s, comparing and contrasting the main arguments of those three authors might help you construct your evaluation—even though the topic may not have asked for comparison/contrast and the lists of similarities and differences you generate may not appear anywhere in the final draft of your paper.

Discovering similarities and differences

Making a Venn diagram or a chart can help you quickly and efficiently compare and contrast two or more things or ideas. To make a Venn diagram, simply draw some overlapping circles, one circle for each item you’re considering. In the central area where they overlap, list the traits the two items have in common. Assign each one of the areas that doesn’t overlap; in those areas, you can list the traits that make the things different. Here’s a very simple example, using two pizza places:

Venn diagram indicating that both Pepper's and Amante serve pizza with unusual ingredients at moderate prices, despite differences in location, wait times, and delivery options

To make a chart, figure out what criteria you want to focus on in comparing the items. Along the left side of the page, list each of the criteria. Across the top, list the names of the items. You should then have a box per item for each criterion; you can fill the boxes in and then survey what you’ve discovered.

As you generate points of comparison, consider the purpose and content of the assignment and the focus of the class. What do you think the professor wants you to learn by doing this comparison/contrast? How does it fit with what you have been studying so far and with the other assignments in the course? Are there any clues about what to focus on in the assignment itself?

Here are some general questions about different types of things you might have to compare. These are by no means complete or definitive lists; they’re just here to give you some ideas—you can generate your own questions for these and other types of comparison. You may want to begin by using the questions reporters traditionally ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? If you’re talking about objects, you might also consider general properties like size, shape, color, sound, weight, taste, texture, smell, number, duration, and location.

Two historical periods or events

  • When did they occur—do you know the date(s) and duration? What happened or changed during each? Why are they significant?
  • What kinds of work did people do? What kinds of relationships did they have? What did they value?
  • What kinds of governments were there? Who were important people involved?
  • What caused events in these periods, and what consequences did they have later on?

Two ideas or theories

  • What are they about?
  • Did they originate at some particular time?
  • Who created them? Who uses or defends them?
  • What is the central focus, claim, or goal of each? What conclusions do they offer?
  • How are they applied to situations/people/things/etc.?
  • Which seems more plausible to you, and why? How broad is their scope?
  • What kind of evidence is usually offered for them?

Two pieces of writing or art

  • What are their titles? What do they describe or depict?
  • What is their tone or mood? What is their form?
  • Who created them? When were they created? Why do you think they were created as they were? What themes do they address?
  • Do you think one is of higher quality or greater merit than the other(s)—and if so, why?
  • For writing: what plot, characterization, setting, theme, tone, and type of narration are used?
  • Where are they from? How old are they? What is the gender, race, class, etc. of each?
  • What, if anything, are they known for? Do they have any relationship to each other?
  • What are they like? What did/do they do? What do they believe? Why are they interesting?
  • What stands out most about each of them?

Deciding what to focus on

By now you have probably generated a huge list of similarities and differences—congratulations! Next you must decide which of them are interesting, important, and relevant enough to be included in your paper. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s relevant to the assignment?
  • What’s relevant to the course?
  • What’s interesting and informative?
  • What matters to the argument you are going to make?
  • What’s basic or central (and needs to be mentioned even if obvious)?
  • Overall, what’s more important—the similarities or the differences?

Suppose that you are writing a paper comparing two novels. For most literature classes, the fact that they both use Caslon type (a kind of typeface, like the fonts you may use in your writing) is not going to be relevant, nor is the fact that one of them has a few illustrations and the other has none; literature classes are more likely to focus on subjects like characterization, plot, setting, the writer’s style and intentions, language, central themes, and so forth. However, if you were writing a paper for a class on typesetting or on how illustrations are used to enhance novels, the typeface and presence or absence of illustrations might be absolutely critical to include in your final paper.

Sometimes a particular point of comparison or contrast might be relevant but not terribly revealing or interesting. For example, if you are writing a paper about Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” and Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight,” pointing out that they both have nature as a central theme is relevant (comparisons of poetry often talk about themes) but not terribly interesting; your class has probably already had many discussions about the Romantic poets’ fondness for nature. Talking about the different ways nature is depicted or the different aspects of nature that are emphasized might be more interesting and show a more sophisticated understanding of the poems.

Your thesis

The thesis of your comparison/contrast paper is very important: it can help you create a focused argument and give your reader a road map so she/he doesn’t get lost in the sea of points you are about to make. As in any paper, you will want to replace vague reports of your general topic (for example, “This paper will compare and contrast two pizza places,” or “Pepper’s and Amante are similar in some ways and different in others,” or “Pepper’s and Amante are similar in many ways, but they have one major difference”) with something more detailed and specific. For example, you might say, “Pepper’s and Amante have similar prices and ingredients, but their atmospheres and willingness to deliver set them apart.”

Be careful, though—although this thesis is fairly specific and does propose a simple argument (that atmosphere and delivery make the two pizza places different), your instructor will often be looking for a bit more analysis. In this case, the obvious question is “So what? Why should anyone care that Pepper’s and Amante are different in this way?” One might also wonder why the writer chose those two particular pizza places to compare—why not Papa John’s, Dominos, or Pizza Hut? Again, thinking about the context the class provides may help you answer such questions and make a stronger argument. Here’s a revision of the thesis mentioned earlier:

Pepper’s and Amante both offer a greater variety of ingredients than other Chapel Hill/Carrboro pizza places (and than any of the national chains), but the funky, lively atmosphere at Pepper’s makes it a better place to give visiting friends and family a taste of local culture.

You may find our handout on constructing thesis statements useful at this stage.

Organizing your paper

There are many different ways to organize a comparison/contrast essay. Here are two:

Subject-by-subject

Begin by saying everything you have to say about the first subject you are discussing, then move on and make all the points you want to make about the second subject (and after that, the third, and so on, if you’re comparing/contrasting more than two things). If the paper is short, you might be able to fit all of your points about each item into a single paragraph, but it’s more likely that you’d have several paragraphs per item. Using our pizza place comparison/contrast as an example, after the introduction, you might have a paragraph about the ingredients available at Pepper’s, a paragraph about its location, and a paragraph about its ambience. Then you’d have three similar paragraphs about Amante, followed by your conclusion.

The danger of this subject-by-subject organization is that your paper will simply be a list of points: a certain number of points (in my example, three) about one subject, then a certain number of points about another. This is usually not what college instructors are looking for in a paper—generally they want you to compare or contrast two or more things very directly, rather than just listing the traits the things have and leaving it up to the reader to reflect on how those traits are similar or different and why those similarities or differences matter. Thus, if you use the subject-by-subject form, you will probably want to have a very strong, analytical thesis and at least one body paragraph that ties all of your different points together.

A subject-by-subject structure can be a logical choice if you are writing what is sometimes called a “lens” comparison, in which you use one subject or item (which isn’t really your main topic) to better understand another item (which is). For example, you might be asked to compare a poem you’ve already covered thoroughly in class with one you are reading on your own. It might make sense to give a brief summary of your main ideas about the first poem (this would be your first subject, the “lens”), and then spend most of your paper discussing how those points are similar to or different from your ideas about the second.

Point-by-point

Rather than addressing things one subject at a time, you may wish to talk about one point of comparison at a time. There are two main ways this might play out, depending on how much you have to say about each of the things you are comparing. If you have just a little, you might, in a single paragraph, discuss how a certain point of comparison/contrast relates to all the items you are discussing. For example, I might describe, in one paragraph, what the prices are like at both Pepper’s and Amante; in the next paragraph, I might compare the ingredients available; in a third, I might contrast the atmospheres of the two restaurants.

If I had a bit more to say about the items I was comparing/contrasting, I might devote a whole paragraph to how each point relates to each item. For example, I might have a whole paragraph about the clientele at Pepper’s, followed by a whole paragraph about the clientele at Amante; then I would move on and do two more paragraphs discussing my next point of comparison/contrast—like the ingredients available at each restaurant.

There are no hard and fast rules about organizing a comparison/contrast paper, of course. Just be sure that your reader can easily tell what’s going on! Be aware, too, of the placement of your different points. If you are writing a comparison/contrast in service of an argument, keep in mind that the last point you make is the one you are leaving your reader with. For example, if I am trying to argue that Amante is better than Pepper’s, I should end with a contrast that leaves Amante sounding good, rather than with a point of comparison that I have to admit makes Pepper’s look better. If you’ve decided that the differences between the items you’re comparing/contrasting are most important, you’ll want to end with the differences—and vice versa, if the similarities seem most important to you.

Our handout on organization can help you write good topic sentences and transitions and make sure that you have a good overall structure in place for your paper.

Cue words and other tips

To help your reader keep track of where you are in the comparison/contrast, you’ll want to be sure that your transitions and topic sentences are especially strong. Your thesis should already have given the reader an idea of the points you’ll be making and the organization you’ll be using, but you can help her/him out with some extra cues. The following words may be helpful to you in signaling your intentions:

  • like, similar to, also, unlike, similarly, in the same way, likewise, again, compared to, in contrast, in like manner, contrasted with, on the contrary, however, although, yet, even though, still, but, nevertheless, conversely, at the same time, regardless, despite, while, on the one hand … on the other hand.

For example, you might have a topic sentence like one of these:

  • Compared to Pepper’s, Amante is quiet.
  • Like Amante, Pepper’s offers fresh garlic as a topping.
  • Despite their different locations (downtown Chapel Hill and downtown Carrboro), Pepper’s and Amante are both fairly easy to get to.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Comparing and Contrasting

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comparing articles essay

The professor says to compare and contrast A and B ...

Determining the Structure of your Essay:

Determining the structure of your essay is the most important step towards conducting and presenting to the reader a well-developed comparison. Students are often asked to compare things in twos. For example, compare these two articles, or two characters in a novel, or a film and a novel or an article and a poem... The possibilities are endless.

When you are faced with the task of having to compare and contrast, it can be overwhelming. You're thinking about two pieces of writing that you know are different, and perhaps there are some similarities, too, but how can you suddenly start talking about them both?  Which one should I talk about first? Which one should I talk about last?

Sometimes, comparisons are done in the following manner:

You pick one article to describe:  Article A.  Then you talk about  Article B.  Perhaps at the end, you talk about the similarities in both articles.

This format will consist of three main parts: A, B, and, finally, their similarities.

Although this format is an acceptable way of making comparisons, and it is sometimes used to present well-developed "compare and contrast" essays, the format has its weaknesses that can jeopardize an effective comparison.

What could happen when you use this format and you completely isolate  Article A  from  Article B  is that you make it more difficult to compare. Your final essay might end up divided in two parts: half of the paper talks about only  Article A  and the second half talks about only  Article B . You do not want to split your essay into a description of  Article A  and a description of  Article B  because then it will be harder to compare them since you invested most of your energy into describing them and not comparing them.

How to avoid the "Split Essay": A Second Option for Comparison

The best way to avoid the Split Essay is to unify both split ends. Do not discuss  Article B  at the end. Talk about  both A and B  from the beginning. The question now is:

What do I do to eliminate the Split?

Break it down:

You do not get rid of the gap between the two halves of the essay that are split. You simply  break it down . This is done by finding common themes, or points of comparison in  Article A and Article B.  Once you find those points of comparison, you can discuss each individual theme and how each shows up in  Article A and B . Consider the following questions:

  • What major themes are discussed in each of the essays?
  • What doe the writer of  Article A  say about the first theme, and how is this similar to or different than what the writer of  Article B  says about the same topic?
  • What conclusions can you make about these differences or similarities?

After developing a thorough explanation of the first theme, you can mow move on to discuss the second theme that appears in both essays and write about it. Ideally, each theme will be discussed thoroughly in its own paragraph, explaining how each is similar or different in  Article A  and  Article B

During the seventies, Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote his most famous novel,  One Hundred Years of Solitude , in which he discussed themes regarding the solitude of Latin America.

In 1982, Marquez received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel and wrote a speech for this occasion. In his speech, he called attention to Latin American economic struggles and their historical context.

In 1990, Enrique Krauze, a Mexican economist, published an article in which he discussed the same topic: problems in Latin American economics.

The prompt says:

Compare and contrast Enrique Krauze's essay to the speech written by Marquez.

Possible approaches:

Option #1: Text by text comparison

First paragraph:

A: An explanation of Marquez's entire speech

Second paragraph:

B: An explanation of Krauze's entire essay

Third paragraph:

Similarities or differences

(this might lead to the "Split Essay" comparison)

Option #2: Point by point comparison

The breakdown: Finding common themes or points of comparison:

• Neoliberalism (free trade)

• US involvement

• Proposed solutions to the problems (macro or micro economy?)

A: Krauze's opinion on neoliberalism

B: Marquez's opinion on neoliberalism

A: US involvement good or bad? According to Marquez

B: US involvement good or bad? According to Krauze

Whatever other theme that stands out as significant for explaining the differences of opinions.

Sample paragraph:

          Enrique Krauze and Gabriel Garcia Marquez take different positions in regards to the implementation of more neoliberalist policies in Latin American countries. While Krauze argues the need to expand open trade in Latin America to improve its economy, Marquez opposes this idea and argues that an open trade economy would only aid foreign investors in further exploiting the natural resources in Latin America. Krauze's support of neoliberalism is based on the idea that through a macro economy, the "undeveloped" countries will soon see the light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand, Marquez rebuts this argument, claiming that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which forced neoliberalist policies onto Latin American countries, only served to increase their foreign debt.

Notice how the beginning of this paragraph discusses only one theme: neoliberalism. Also notice how the writer was able to incorporate both articles and not just one. Pay attention, too, to the use of words and phrases that juxtapose or suggest comparison. These words establish links between  A  and  B .

Handout created by Rubén Garibaldo, Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley

©2006 UC Regents

Handout revised by Carolyn Swalina, Student Learning Center, University of California, Berkeley

©2011 UC Regents

  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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OASIS: Writing Center

Writing a paper: comparing & contrasting.

A compare and contrast paper discusses the similarities and differences between two or more topics. The paper should contain an introduction with a thesis statement, a body where the comparisons and contrasts are discussed, and a conclusion.

Address Both Similarities and Differences

Because this is a compare and contrast paper, both the similarities and differences should be discussed. This will require analysis on your part, as some topics will appear to be quite similar, and you will have to work to find the differing elements.

Make Sure You Have a Clear Thesis Statement

Just like any other essay, a compare and contrast essay needs a thesis statement. The thesis statement should not only tell your reader what you will do, but it should also address the purpose and importance of comparing and contrasting the material.

Use Clear Transitions

Transitions are important in compare and contrast essays, where you will be moving frequently between different topics or perspectives.

  • Examples of transitions and phrases for comparisons: as well, similar to, consistent with, likewise, too
  • Examples of transitions and phrases for contrasts: on the other hand, however, although, differs, conversely, rather than.

For more information, check out our transitions page.

Structure Your Paper

Consider how you will present the information. You could present all of the similarities first and then present all of the differences. Or you could go point by point and show the similarity and difference of one point, then the similarity and difference for another point, and so on.

Include Analysis

It is tempting to just provide summary for this type of paper, but analysis will show the importance of the comparisons and contrasts. For instance, if you are comparing two articles on the topic of the nursing shortage, help us understand what this will achieve. Did you find consensus between the articles that will support a certain action step for people in the field? Did you find discrepancies between the two that point to the need for further investigation?

Make Analogous Comparisons

When drawing comparisons or making contrasts, be sure you are dealing with similar aspects of each item. To use an old cliché, are you comparing apples to apples?

  • Example of poor comparisons: Kubista studied the effects of a later start time on high school students, but Cook used a mixed methods approach. (This example does not compare similar items. It is not a clear contrast because the sentence does not discuss the same element of the articles. It is like comparing apples to oranges.)
  • Example of analogous comparisons: Cook used a mixed methods approach, whereas Kubista used only quantitative methods. (Here, methods are clearly being compared, allowing the reader to understand the distinction.

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comparing articles essay

Compare and Contrast Essay: Full Writing Guide and 150+ Topics

comparing articles essay

Compare and contrast essays are academic papers in which a student analyses two or more subjects with each other. To compare means to explore similarities between subjects, while to contrast means to look at their differences. Both subjects of the comparison are usually in the same category, although they have their differences. For example, it can be two movies, two universities, two cars etc.

Good compare and contrast papers from college essay writer focus on a central point, explaining the importance and implications of this analysis. A compare and contrast essay thesis must make a meaningful comparison. Find the central theme of your essay and do some brainstorming for your thesis.

This type of essay is very common among college and university students. Professors challenge their students to use their analytical and comparative skills and pay close attention to the subjects of their comparisons. This type of essay exercises observance and analysis, helps to establish a frame of reference, and makes meaningful arguments about a subject. Let's get deeper on how to write a compare and contrast essay with our research writing services .

How to Start a Compare and Contrast Essay: Brainstorm Similarities and Differences

Now that you know what is compare and contrast essay and are set with your topic, the first thing you should do is grab a piece of paper and make a list with two columns: similarities and differences. Jot down key things first, the most striking ones. Then try to look at the subjects from a different angle, incorporating your imagination.

If you are more of a visual learner, creating a Venn diagram might be a good idea. In order to create it, draw two circles that overlap. In the section where it overlaps, note similarities. Differences should be written in the part of the circle that does not overlap.

Let’s look at a simple example of compare and contrast essay. Let one of the subjects be oranges, and the other one be apples. Oranges have thick peel, originally from India, and are tropical fruit. These characteristics pertain only to oranges and should be in the part of the circle that does not overlap. For the same section on apples, we put thin peel, originated in Turkey or Kazakhstan, and moderate to subtropical. In the section that overlaps, let’s say that they are both fruit, can be juiced, and grow on trees. This simple, yet good example illustrates how the same concept can be applied to many other complicated topics with additional points of comparison and contrast.

Example of compare and contrast

This format of visual aid helps to organize similarities and differences and make them easier to perceive. Your diagram will give you a clear idea of the things you can write about.

Another good idea for brainstorming in preparation for your comparison contrast essay is to create a list with 2 columns, one for each subject, and compare the same characteristics for each of them simultaneously. This compare and contrast format will make writing your comparison contrast paper argument a breeze, as you will have your ideas ready and organized.

One mistake you should avoid is simply listing all of the differences or similarities for each subject. Sometimes students get too caught up in looking for similarities and differences that their compare and contrast essays end up sounding like grocery lists. Your essay should be based on analyzing the similarities and differences, analyzing your conclusions about the two subjects, and finding connections between them—while following a specific format.

Compare and Contrast Essay Structure and Outline

So, how do you structure this compare and contrast paper? Well, since compare and contrast essay examples rely heavily on factual analysis, there are two outline methods that can help you organize your facts. You can use the block method, or point-by-point method, to write a compare and contrast essay outline.

While using the block structure of a compare and contrast essay, all the information is presented for the first subject, and its characteristics and specific details are explained. This concludes one block. The second block takes the same approach as the first for the second subject.

The point-by-point structure lists each similarity and difference simultaneously—making notes of both subjects. For example, you can list a characteristic specific to one subject, followed by its similarity or difference to the other subject.

Both formats have their pros and cons. The block method is clearly easier for a compare and contrast essay writer, as you simply point out all of the information about the two subjects, and basically leave it to the reader to do the comparison. The point-by-point format requires you to analyze the points yourself while making similarities and differences more explicit to the reader for them to be easier to understand. Here is a detailed structure of each type presented below.

Point-by-Point Method

  • Introduce the topic;
  • Specify your theme;
  • Present your thesis - cover all areas of the essay in one sentence.
Example thesis: Cars and motorcycles make for excellent means of transportation, but a good choice depends on the person’s lifestyle, finances, and the city they live in.

Body Paragraph 1 - LIFESTYLE

  • Topic Sentence: Motorcycles impact the owner’s lifestyle less than cars.
  • Topic 1 - Motorcycles
  • ~ Argument: Motorcycles are smaller and more comfortable to store.
  • ~ Argument: Motorcycles are easy to learn and use.
  • Topic 2 - Cars
  • ~ Argument: Cars are a big deal - they are like a second home.
  • ~ Argument: It takes time to learn to become a good driver.

Body Paragraph 2 - FINANCES

  • Topic sentence: Cars are much more expensive than motorcycles
  • ~ Argument: You can buy a good motorcycle for under 300$.
  • ~ Argument: Fewer parts that are more accessible to fix.
  • ~ Argument: Parts and service are expensive if something breaks.
  • ~ Argument: Cars need more gas than motorcycles.

Body Paragraph 3 - CITY

  • Topic sentence: Cars are a better option for bigger cities with wider roads.
  • ~ Argument: Riding motorcycles in a big city is more dangerous than with cars.
  • ~ Argument: Motorcycles work great in a city like Rome, where all the streets are narrow.
  • ~ Argument: Big cities are easier and more comfortable to navigate by car.
  • ~ Argument: With a car, traveling outside of the city is much easier.
  • Sum up all you wrote in the article.

Block Method

  • Thesis — cover all areas of the essay in one sentence

Body Paragraph 1

  • Topic Sentence: Motorcycles are cheaper and easier to take care of than cars.
  • Aspect 1 - Lifestyle
  • Aspect 2 - Finances
  • ~ Argument: Fewer parts, easier to fix.
  • Aspect 3 - City
  • ~ Argument: Riding motorcycles in a big city is more dangerous than cars.

Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic sentence: Cars are more expensive but more comfortable for a big city and for travelling.
  • ~ Argument: Cars are a big deal—like a second home.
  • ~ Argument: With a car, traveling outside the city is much more comfortable.

Body Paragraph 3 ‍

Use the last paragraph to evaluate the comparisons and explain why they’re essential. Giving a lot of facts can be intense. To water it down, try to give the reader any real-life applications of these facts.

Depending on the structure selected, you can begin to create an outline for your essay. The typical comparison essay follows the format of having an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion — though, if you need to focus on each subject in more detailed ways, feel free to include an extra paragraph to cover all of the most important points.

To make your compare and contrast essay flow better, we recommend using special transition words and phrases. They will add variety and improve your paper overall.

For the section where you compare two subjects, you can include any of the following words: similarly, likewise, also, both, just like, similar to, the same as, alike, or to compare to. When contrasting two subjects, use: in contrast, in comparison, by comparison, on the other hand, while, whereas, but, to differ from, dissimilar to, or unlike.

Show Your Evidence

Arguments for any essay, including compare and contrast essays, need to be supported by sufficient evidence. Make good use of your personal experiences, books, scholarly articles, magazine and newspaper articles, movies, or anything that will make your argument sound credible. For example, in your essay, if you were to compare attending college on campus vs. distance-based learning, you could include your personal experiences of being a student, and how often students show up to class on a daily basis. You could also talk about your experience taking online classes, which makes your argument about online classes credible as well.

Helpful Final Tips

The biggest tip dissertation writing services can give you is to have the right attitude when writing a compare contrast essay, and actively engage the reader in the discussion. If you find it interesting, so will your reader! Here are some more compare and contrast essay tips that will help you to polish yours up:

types of writing

  • Compare and contrast essays need powerful transitions. Try learning more about writing transition sentences using the words we provided for you in the 'Compare and Contrast Structure and Outline' section.
  • Always clarify the concepts you introduce in your essay. Always explain lesser known information—don’t assume the reader must already know it.
  • Do not forget to proofread. Small mistakes, but in high quantities, can result in a low grade. Pay attention to your grammar and punctuation.
  • Have a friend or family member take a look at your essay; they may notice things you have missed.

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Now that you know everything there is to know about compare and contrast essays, let’s take a look at some compare and contrast examples to get you started on your paper or get a hand from our essay helper .

Different countries across the world have diverse cultural practices, and this has an effect on work relationships and development. Geert Hofstede came up with a structured way of comparing cultural dimensions of different countries. The theory explains the impacts of a community’s culture on the values of the community members, and the way these values relate to their behaviors. He gives scores as a way to help distinguish people from different nations using the following dimensions: long-term orientation, individualism, power distance, indulgence, necessity avoidance, and masculinity. Let us examine comparisons between two countries: the United Kingdom and China — based on Hofstede’s Six Dimensions of Culture.
Over the last two decades, the demand from consumers for organic foods has increased tremendously. In fact, the popularity of organic foods has exploded significantly with consumers, spending a considerably higher amount of money on them as compared to the amount spent on inorganic foods. The US market noted an increase in sales of more than 10% between 2014 and 2015 (Brown, n.p). The increase is in line with the views of many consumers that organic foods are safer, tastier, and healthier compared to the inorganic foods. Furthermore, considering the environmental effects of foods, organic foods present less risk of environmental pollution — compared to inorganic foods. By definition, organic foods are those that are grown without any artificial chemical treatment, or treatment by use of other substances that have been modified genetically, such as hormones and/or antibiotics (Brown, n.p).

Still feeling confused about the complexities of the compare and contrast essay? Feel free to contact our paper writing service to get a professional writing help.

Finding the Best Compare and Contrast Essay Topics For You

When choosing a topic for your comparison essay, remember that subjects cannot be drastically different, because there would be little to no points of comparison (similarities). The same goes for too many similarities, which will result in poor contrasts. For example, it is better to write about two composers, rather than a composer and a singer.

It is extremely important to choose a topic you are passionate about. You never want to come across something that seems dull and uninspiring for you. Here are some excellent ways to brainstorm for a topic from essay writer :

  • Find categories: Choose a type (like animals, films or economics), and compare subjects within that category – wild animals to farm animals, Star Wars to Star Trek, private companies to public companies, etc.
  • Random Surprising Fact: Dig for fun facts which could make great topics. Did you know that chickens can be traced back to dinosaurs?
  • Movie vs. Book: Most of the time, the book is better than the movie — unless it’s Blade Runner or Lord of the Rings. If you’re a pop culture lover, compare movies vs. books, video games, comics, etc.

Use our rewrite essay service when you need help from professionals.

How to Choose a Great Compare and Contrast Topic

College students should consider providing themselves with a chance to use all topic examples. With enough revision, an advantage is gained. As it will be possible to compare arguments and contrast their aspects. Also, discuss numerous situations to get closer to the conclusion.

For example:

  • Choose a topic from the field of your interests. Otherwise you risk failing your paper.
  • It is a good idea to choose a topic based upon the class subject or specialist subject. (Unless the requirements say otherwise.)
  • Analyze each argument carefully. Include every detail for each opposing idea. Without doing so, you can definitely lower grades.
  • Write a conclusion that summarizes both arguments. It should allow readers to find the answer they’re looking for.
  • It is up to you to determine which arguments are right and wrong in the final conclusion.
  • Before approaching the final conclusion, it’s important to discuss each argument equally. It is a bad idea to be biased, as it can also lower grades.

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150 Compare and Contrast Essay Topics to Consider

Choosing a topic can be a challenging task, but there are plenty of options to consider. In the following sections, we have compiled a list of 150 compare and contrast essay topics to help you get started. These topics cover a wide range of subjects, from education and technology to history and politics. Whether you are a high school student or a college student, you are sure to find a topic that interests you. So, read on to discover some great compare and contrast essay ideas.

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics For College Students

When attending a college, at any time your professor can assign you the task of writing this form of an essay. Consider these topics for college students from our team to get the grades you deserve.

  • Attending a College Course Vs. Distance-Based Learning.
  • Writing a Research Paper Vs. Writing a Creative Writing Paper. What are the differences and similarities?
  • The differences between a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree.
  • The key aspects of the differences between the US and the UK education systems.
  • Completing assignments at a library compared with doing so at home. Which is the most efficient?
  • The similarities and differences in the behavior among married and unmarried couples.
  • The similarities and differences between the EU (European Union) and ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations)?
  • The similarities and significant differences between American and Canadian English.
  • Writing an Internship Report Vs. Writing a Research Paper
  • The differences between US colleges and colleges in the EU?

Interesting Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Some topics for the compare and contrast essay format can be boring. To keep up motivation, doing a research , have a look at these topics. Maybe they can serve you as research paper help .

  • Public Transport Vs. Driving A Car. Which is more efficient?
  • Mandarin Vs. Cantonese: What are the differences between these Chinese languages?
  • Sports Cars Vs. Luxurious Family Cars
  • Wireless Technology Vs. Wired Devices
  • Thai Food Vs. Filipino Cuisine
  • What is the difference and similarities between a register office marriage and a traditional marriage?
  • The 2000s Vs. The 2010s. What are the differences and what makes them similar?
  • Abu Dhabi Vs. Dubai. What are the main factors involved in the differences?
  • What are the differences between American and British culture?
  • What does the New York Metro do differently to the London Underground?

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for High School Students

When writing essays for high school, it is good to keep them informative. Have a look at these compare and contrast sample topics.

  • Highschool Life Vs. College Life
  • Paying College Fees Vs. Being Awarded a Scholarship
  • All Night Study Sessions Vs. Late Night Parties
  • Teenager Vs. Young Adult Relationships
  • Being in a Relationship Vs. Being Single
  • Male Vs. Female Behavior
  • The similarities and differences between a high school diploma and a college degree
  • The similarities and differences between Economics and Business Studies
  • The benefits of having a part-time job, instead of a freelance job, in college
  • High School Extra Curricular Activities Vs. Voluntarily Community Services

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for Science

At some point, every science student will be assigned this type of essay. To keep things at flow, have a look at best compare and contrast essay example topics on science:

  • Undiscovered Species on Earth Vs. Potential Life on Mars: What will we discover in the future?
  • The benefits of Gasoline Powered Cars Vs. Electric Powered Cars
  • The differences of the Milky Way Vs. Centaurus (Galaxies).
  • Earthquakes Vs. Hurricanes: What should be prepared for the most?
  • The differences between our moon and Mars’ moons.
  • SpaceX Vs. NASA. What is done differently within these organizations?
  • The differences and similarities between Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox’s theories on the cosmos. Do they agree or correspond with each other?
  • Pregnancy Vs. Motherhood
  • Jupiter Vs. Saturn
  • Greenhouse Farming Vs. Polytunnel Farming

Sports & Leisure Topics

Studying Physical Education? Or a gym fanatic? Have a look at our compare and contrast essay topics for sports and leisure.

  • The English Premier League Compared With The Bundesliga
  • Real Madrid Vs. Barcelona
  • Football Vs. Basketball
  • Walking Vs. Eating Outside with Your Partner
  • Jamaica Team Vs. United States Team: Main Factors and Differences
  • Formula One Vs. Off-Road Racing
  • Germany Team Vs. Brazil Team
  • Morning Exercise Vs. Evening Exercise.
  • Manning Team Vs. Brazil Team
  • Swimming Vs. Cycling

Topics About Culture

Culture can have several meanings. If you’re a Religious Studies or Culture student, take a look at these good compare and contrast essay topics about culture.

  • The fundamental similarities and differences between Pope Francis and Tawadros II of Alexandria
  • Canadian Vs. Australian Religion
  • The differences between Islamic and Christian Holidays
  • The cultural similarities and differences between the Native Aboriginals and Caucasian Australians
  • Native American Culture Vs. New England Culture
  • The cultural differences and similarities between Italians and Sicilians
  • In-depth: The origins of Buddhism and Hinduism
  • In-depth: The origins of Christianity and Islam
  • Greek Gods Vs. Hindu Gods
  • The Bible: Old Testament Vs. New Testament

Unique Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

What about writing an essay which is out of the ordinary? Consider following these topics to write a compare and contrast essay on, that are unique.

  • The reasons why some wealthy people pay extortionate amounts of money for gold-plated cell phones, rather than buying the normal phone.
  • The differences between Lipton Tea and Ahmad Tea
  • American Football Vs. British Football: What are their differences?
  • The differences and similarities between France and Britain
  • Fanta Vs. 7Up
  • Traditional Helicopters Vs. Lifesize Drones
  • The differences and similarities between Boston Dynamics and the fictional equivalent Skynet (From Terminator Movies).
  • Socialism Vs. Capitalism: Which is better?
  • Curved Screen TVs’ Vs. Regular Flat Screen TVs’: Are they really worth big bucks?
  • Is it better to wear black or white at funerals?

Good Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Sometimes, it may be a requirement to take it back a notch. Especially if you’re new to these style of writing. Consider having a look at these good compare and contrast essay topics that are pretty easy to start off.

  • Is it a good idea to work on weekdays or weekends?
  • Black of White Coffee
  • Becoming a teacher or a doctor? Which career choice has more of an impact on society?
  • Air Travel Vs. Sea Travel: Which is better?
  • Rail Travel Vs. Road Travel: Which is more convenient?
  • What makes Europe far greater than Africa? In terms of financial growth, regulations, public funds, policies etc…
  • Eating fruit for breakfast Vs. cereals
  • Staying Home to Read Vs. Traveling the World During Holidays. Which is more beneficial for personal growth?
  • Japanese Vs. Brazilian Cuisine
  • What makes ASEAN Nations more efficient than African Nations?

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics About TV Shows, Music and Movies

We all enjoy at least one of these things. If not, all of them. Why not have a go at writing a compare and contrast essay about what you have been recently watching or listening to?

  • Breaking Bad Vs. Better Call Saul: Which is more commonly binge watched?
  • The differences between Dance Music and Heavy Metal
  • James Bond Vs. Johnny English
  • Iron Man Vs. The Incredible Hulk: Who would win?
  • What is done differently in modern movies, compared to old black and white movies?
  • Dumber and Dumber 2 Vs. Ted: Which movie is funnier?
  • Are Horror movies or Action Movies best suited to you?
  • The differences and similarities between Mozart and Beethoven compositions.
  • Hip Hop Vs. Traditional Music
  • Classical Music Vs. Pop Music. Which genre helps people concentrate?

Topics About Art

Sometimes, art students are required to write this style of essay. Have a look at these compare and contrast essay topics about the arts of the centuries.

  • The fundamental differences and similarities between paintings and sculptures
  • The different styles of Vincent Van Gogh and Leonardo Da Vinci.
  • Viewing Original Art Compared With Digital Copies. How are these experiences different?
  • 18th Century Paintings Vs. 21st Century Digitally Illustrated Images
  • German Art Vs. American Art
  • Modern Painting Vs. Modern Photography
  • How can we compare modern graphic designers to 18th-century painters?
  • Ancient Greek Art Vs. Ancient Egyptian Art
  • Ancient Japanese Art Vs. Ancient Persian Art
  • What 16th Century Painting Materials were used compared with the modern day?

Best Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Almost every student at any stage of academics is assigned this style of writing. If you’re lacking inspiration, consider looking at some of the best compare and contrast essay topics to get you on track with your writing.

  • The United States and North Korea Governmental Conflict: What is the reason behind this phenomenon?
  • In the Early Hours, Drinking Water is far healthier than consuming soda.
  • The United States Vs. The People’s Republic of China: Which economy is the most efficient?
  • Studying in Foreign Countries Vs. Studying In Your Hometown: Which is more of an advantage?
  • Toast Vs. Cereal: Which is the most consumed in the morning?
  • Sleeping Vs. Daydreaming: Which is the most commonly prefered? And amongst who?
  • Learning French Vs. Chinese: Which is the most straightforward?
  • Android Phones Vs. iPhones
  • The Liberation of Slaves Vs. The Liberation of Women: Which is more remembered?
  • The differences between the US Dollar and British Pound. What are their advantages? And How do they correspond with each other?

Easy Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

In all types of academics, these essays occur. If you’re new to this style of writing, check our easy compare and contrast essay topics.

  • The Third Reich Vs. North Korea
  • Tea Vs. Coffee
  • iPhone Vs. Samsung
  • KFC Vs. Wendy’s
  • Laurel or Yanny?
  • Healthy Lifestyle Vs. Obese Lifestyle
  • Forkes Vs. Sporks
  • Rice Vs. Porridge
  • Roast Dinner Vs. Chicken & Mushroom Pie
  • What’s the difference between apples and oranges?

Psychology Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Deciding upon good compare and contrast essay topics for psychology assignments can be difficult. Consider referring to our list of 10 psychology compare and contrast essay topics to help get the deserved grades.

  • What is a more severe eating order? Bulimia or Anorexia
  • Modern Medicine Vs. Traditional Medicine for Treating Depression?
  • Soft Drugs Vs. Hard Drugs. Which is more dangerous for people’s psychological well-being?
  • How do the differences between Lust and Love have an effect on people’s mindsets?
  • Ego Vs. Superego
  • Parents Advice Vs. Peers Advice amongst children and teens.
  • Strict Parenting Vs. Relaxed Parenting
  • Mental Institutions Vs. Stress Clinics
  • Bipolar Disorder Vs. Epilepsy
  • How does child abuse affect victims in later life?

Compare and Contrast Essay Topics for Sixth Graders

From time to time, your teacher will assign the task of writing a compare and contrast essay. It can be hard to choose a topic, especially for beginners. Check out our easy compare and contrast essay topics for sixth graders.

  • Exam Preparation Vs. Homework Assignments
  • Homeschooling Vs. Public Education
  • High School Vs. Elementary School
  • 5th Grade Vs. 6th Grade: What makes them different or the same?
  • Are Moms’ or Dads’ more strict among children?
  • Is it better to have strict parents or more open parents?
  • Sandy Beaches Vs. Pebble Beaches: Which beaches are more popular?
  • Is it a good idea to learn guitar or piano?
  • Is it better to eat vegetable salads or pieces of fruit for lunch?
  • 1st Grade Vs. 6th Grade

Funny Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Sometimes, it is good to have a laugh. As they always say : 'laughter is the best medicine'. Check out these funny compare and contrast essay topics for a little giggle when writing.

  • What is the best way to waste your time? Watching Funny Animal Videos or Mr. Bean Clips?
  • Are Pug Dogs or Maltese Dogs crazier?
  • Pot Noodles Vs. McDonalds Meals.
  • What is the difference between Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson?
  • Mrs. Doubtfire Vs. Mrs. Brown. How are they similar?
  • Which game is more addictive? Flappy Bird or Angry Birds?
  • Big Shaq Vs. PSY
  • Stewie Griffin Vs. Maggie Simpson
  • Quarter Pounders Vs. Big Macs
  • Mr. Bean Vs. Alan Harper

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Comparing and Contrasting: A Guide to Improve Your Essays

Walter Akolo

Walter Akolo

Comparing and contrasting in essays

Essays that require you to compare and contrast two or more subjects, ideas, places, or items are common.

They call for you to highlight the key similarities (compare) and differences (contrast) between them.

This guide contains all the information you need to become better at writing comparing and contrasting essays.

This includes: how to structure your essay, how to decide on the content, and some examples of essay questions.

Let’s dive in.

Compare and contrast definition

What Is Comparing and Contrasting?

Is compare and contrast the same as similarities and differences, what is the purpose of comparing and contrasting, can you compare and contrast any two items, how do you compare and contrast in writing, what are some comparing and contrasting techniques, how do you compare and contrast in college level writing, the four essentials of compare and contrast essays, what can you learn from a compare and contrast essay.

At their most basic, both comparing and contrasting base their evaluation on two or more subjects that share a connection.

The subjects could have similar characteristics, features, or foundations.

But while a comparison discusses the similarities of the two subjects, e.g. a banana and a watermelon are both fruit, contrasting highlights how the subjects or items differ from each other, e.g. a watermelon is around 10 times larger than a banana.

Any question that you are asked in education will have a variety of interesting comparisons and deductions that you can make.

Compare is the same as similarities.

Contrast is the same as differences.

This is because comparing identifies the likeness between two subjects, items, or categories, while contrasting recognizes disparities between them.

When you compare things, you represent them regarding their similarity, but when you contrast things, you define them in reference to their differences.

As a result, if you are asked to discuss the similarities and differences between two subjects, you can take an identical approach to if you are writing a compare and contrast essay.

In writing, the purpose of comparing and contrasting is to highlight subtle but important differences or similarities that might not be immediately obvious.

The purpose of comparing and contrasting

By illustrating the differences between elements in a similar category, you help heighten readers’ understanding of the subject or topic of discussion.

For instance, you might choose to compare and contrast red wine and white wine by pointing out the subtle differences. One of these differences is that red wine is best served at room temperature while white is best served chilled.

Also, comparing and contrasting helps to make abstract ideas more definite and minimizes the confusion that might exist between two related concepts.

Can Comparing and Contrasting Be Useful Outside of Academia?

Comparing enables you to see the pros and cons, allowing you to have a better understanding of the things under discussion. In an essay, this helps you demonstrate that you understand the nuances of your topic enough to draw meaningful conclusions from them.

Let's use a real-word example to see the benefits. Imagine you're contrasting two dresses you could buy. You might think:

  • Dress A is purple, my favorite color, but it has a difficult zip and is practically impossible to match a jacket to.
  • Dress B is more expensive but I already have a suitable pair of shoes and jacket and it is easier to move in.

You're linking the qualities of each dress to the context of the decision you're making. This is the same for your essay. Your comparison and contrast points will be in relation to the question you need to answer.

Comparing and contrasting is only a useful technique when applied to two related concepts.

To effectively compare two or more things, they must feature characteristics similar enough to warrant comparison.

In addition to this they must also feature a similarity that generates an interesting discussion. But what do I mean by “interesting” here?

Let’s look at two concepts, the Magna Carta and my third grade poetry competition entry.

They are both text, written on paper by a person so they fulfil the first requirement, they have a similarity. But this comparison clearly would not fulfil the second requirement, you would not be able to draw any interesting conclusions.

However, if we compare the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights, you would be able to come to some very interesting conclusions concerning the history of world politics.

To write a good compare and contrast essay, it’s best to pick two or more topics that share a meaningful connection .

The aim of the essay would be to show the subtle differences or unforeseen similarities.

By highlighting the distinctions between elements in a similar category you can increase your readers’ understanding.

Alternatively, you could choose to focus on a comparison between two subjects that initially appear unrelated.

The more dissimilar they seem, the more interesting the comparison essay will turn out.

For instance, you could compare and contrast professional rugby players with marathon runners.

Can You Compare and Contrast in an Essay That Does Not Specifically Require It?

As a writer, you can employ comparing and contrasting techniques in your writing, particularly when looking for ideas you can later apply in your argument.

You can do this even when the comparison or contrast is not a requirement for the topic or argument you are presenting. Doing so could enable you to build your evaluation and develop a stronger argument.

Note that the similarities and differences you come up with might not even show up in the final draft.

While the use of compare and contrast can be neutral, you can also use it to highlight one option under discussion. When used this way, you can influence the perceived advantages of your preferred option.

As a writing style, comparing and contrasting can encompass an entire essay. However, it could also appear in some select paragraphs within the essay, where making some comparisons serves to better illustrate a point.

What Should You Do First?

Before you compare two things, always start by deciding on the reason for your comparison, then outline the criteria you will use to compare them.

Words and phrases commonly used for comparison include:

Comparison words and phrases

In writing, these words and phrases are called transitions . They help readers to understand or make the connection between sentences, paragraphs, and ideas.

Without transition words writing can feel clumsy and disjointed making it difficult to read. ProWritingAid’s transition report highlights all of a documents transitions and suggests that 25% of any sentences in a piece include a transition.

ProWritingAid's Transition Report

Sign up for a free ProWritingAid account to use the Transitions Report.

So, how do you form all of this into a coherent essay? It's a good idea to plan first, then decide what your paragraph layout will look like.

Venn diagrams are useful tool to start generating ideas. The, for your essay, you need to choose between going idea by idea and going point by point.

Using a Venn Diagram

A Venn diagram helps you to clearly see the similarities and differences between multiple objects, things, or subjects.

The writing tool comprises two, or more, simple, overlapping circles in which you list down the things that are alike (within the overlapping area) and those that differ (outside the overlapping area).

It’s great for brainstorming ideas and for creating your essay’s outline. You could even use it in an exam setting because it is quick and simple.

Going Subject by Subject

Going subject by subject is a structural choice for your essay.

Start by saying all you have to say on the first subject, then proceed to do the same about the second subject.

Depending on the length of your essay, you can fit the points about each subject into one paragraph or have several sections per each subject, ending with a conclusion.

This method is best for short essays on simple topics. Most university-level essays will go point by point instead.

Going Point by Point

Going point by point, or alternating, is the opposite essay structure from going subject by subject. This is ideal when you want to do more direct comparing and contrasting. It entails discussing one comparison point at a time. It allows you to use a paragraph to talk about how a certain comparing/contrasting point relates to the subjects or items you are discussing.

Alternatively, if you have lots of details about the subject, you might decide to use a paragraph for each point.

Different ways to compare and contrast

An academic compare and contrast essay looks at two or more subjects, ideas, people, or objects, compares their likeness, and contrasts their differences.

It’s an informative essay that provides insights on what is similar and different between the two items.

Depending on the essay’s instructions, you can focus solely on comparing or contrasting, or a combination of the two.

Examples of College Level Compare and Contrast Essay Questions

Here are eleven examples of compare and contrast essay questions that you might encounter at university:

Compare and contrast examples

  • Archaeology: Compare and contrast the skulls of homo habilis, homo erectus, and homo sapiens.
  • Art: Compare and contrast the working styles of any two Neoclassic artists.
  • Astrophysics: Compare and contrast the chemical composition of Venus and Neptune.
  • Biology: Compare and contrast the theories of Lamarck and Darwin.
  • Business: Compare and contrast 2 or more business models within the agricultural industry.
  • Creative writing: Compare and contrast free indirect discourse with epistolary styles.
  • English Literature: Compare and contrast William Wordsworth with Robert Browning.
  • Geography: Compare and contrast the benefit of solar panels with the benefit of wind turbines.
  • History: Compare and contrast WWI to WWII with specific reference to the causes and outcomes.
  • Medicine: Compare and contrast England’s health service with America’s health service.
  • Psychology: Compare and contrast the behaviorist theory with the psychodynamic theory.

So, the key takeaways to keep in mind are:

Have a basis for comparison. The two things need to have enough in common to justify a discussion about their similarities and disparities.

Don’t go back and forth when using the block method. The best way to write your essay is to begin with a paragraph discussing all the facets of the first topic. Then, move on to another paragraph and talk through all the aspects of the second subject.

You can use both alternating and blocking techniques. Combining the two approaches is also an option. You can apply the alternating method in some paragraphs, then switch and use the block method. This method will help you offer a much deeper analysis of the subjects.

Have a reason for comparing the two things. Only select the points of comparison that resonate with your purpose.

Compare and contrast, key takeaways

Comparing and contrasting are essential analytical skills in academic writing. When your professor issues you with such an essay, their primary goal is to teach you how to:

  • Engage in critical thinking
  • See and make connections between words or ideas
  • Move beyond mere descriptions or summaries to developing interesting analysis
  • Get a deeper understanding of the subjects or items under comparison, their key features, and their interrelationships with each other.

The benefits of comparing and contrasting

Ultimately, your essay should enlighten readers by providing useful information.

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The Comparative Essay

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What is a comparative essay?

A comparative essay asks that you compare at least two (possibly more) items. These items will differ depending on the assignment. You might be asked to compare

  • positions on an issue (e.g., responses to midwifery in Canada and the United States)
  • theories (e.g., capitalism and communism)
  • figures (e.g., GDP in the United States and Britain)
  • texts (e.g., Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth )
  • events (e.g., the Great Depression and the global financial crisis of 2008–9)

Although the assignment may say “compare,” the assumption is that you will consider both the similarities and differences; in other words, you will compare and contrast.

Make sure you know the basis for comparison

The assignment sheet may say exactly what you need to compare, or it may ask you to come up with a basis for comparison yourself.

  • Provided by the essay question: The essay question may ask that you consider the figure of the gentleman in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall . The basis for comparison will be the figure of the gentleman.
  • Developed by you: The question may simply ask that you compare the two novels. If so, you will need to develop a basis for comparison, that is, a theme, concern, or device common to both works from which you can draw similarities and differences.

Develop a list of similarities and differences

Once you know your basis for comparison, think critically about the similarities and differences between the items you are comparing, and compile a list of them.

For example, you might decide that in Great Expectations , being a true gentleman is not a matter of manners or position but morality, whereas in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall , being a true gentleman is not about luxury and self-indulgence but hard work and productivity.

The list you have generated is not yet your outline for the essay, but it should provide you with enough similarities and differences to construct an initial plan.

Develop a thesis based on the relative weight of similarities and differences

Once you have listed similarities and differences, decide whether the similarities on the whole outweigh the differences or vice versa. Create a thesis statement that reflects their relative weights. A more complex thesis will usually include both similarities and differences. Here are examples of the two main cases:

While Callaghan’s “All the Years of Her Life” and Mistry’s “Of White Hairs and Cricket” both follow the conventions of the coming-of-age narrative, Callaghan’s story adheres more closely to these conventions by allowing its central protagonist to mature. In Mistry’s story, by contrast, no real growth occurs.
Although Darwin and Lamarck came to different conclusions about whether acquired traits can be inherited, they shared the key distinction of recognizing that species evolve over time.

Come up with a structure for your essay

Note that the French and Russian revolutions (A and B) may be dissimilar rather than similar in the way they affected innovation in any of the three areas of technology, military strategy, and administration. To use the alternating method, you just need to have something noteworthy to say about both A and B in each area. Finally, you may certainly include more than three pairs of alternating points: allow the subject matter to determine the number of points you choose to develop in the body of your essay.

When do I use the block method? The block method is particularly useful in the following cases:

  • You are unable to find points about A and B that are closely related to each other.
  • Your ideas about B build upon or extend your ideas about A.
  • You are comparing three or more subjects as opposed to the traditional two.

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10.7 Comparison and Contrast

Learning objectives.

  • Determine the purpose and structure of comparison and contrast in writing.
  • Explain organizational methods used when comparing and contrasting.
  • Understand how to write a compare-and-contrast essay.

The Purpose of Comparison and Contrast in Writing

Comparison in writing discusses elements that are similar, while contrast in writing discusses elements that are different. A compare-and-contrast essay , then, analyzes two subjects by comparing them, contrasting them, or both.

The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. The purpose of conducting the comparison or contrast is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities. For example, if you wanted to focus on contrasting two subjects you would not pick apples and oranges; rather, you might choose to compare and contrast two types of oranges or two types of apples to highlight subtle differences. For example, Red Delicious apples are sweet, while Granny Smiths are tart and acidic. Drawing distinctions between elements in a similar category will increase the audience’s understanding of that category, which is the purpose of the compare-and-contrast essay.

Similarly, to focus on comparison, choose two subjects that seem at first to be unrelated. For a comparison essay, you likely would not choose two apples or two oranges because they share so many of the same properties already. Rather, you might try to compare how apples and oranges are quite similar. The more divergent the two subjects initially seem, the more interesting a comparison essay will be.

Writing at Work

Comparing and contrasting is also an evaluative tool. In order to make accurate evaluations about a given topic, you must first know the critical points of similarity and difference. Comparing and contrasting is a primary tool for many workplace assessments. You have likely compared and contrasted yourself to other colleagues. Employee advancements, pay raises, hiring, and firing are typically conducted using comparison and contrast. Comparison and contrast could be used to evaluate companies, departments, or individuals.

Brainstorm an essay that leans toward contrast. Choose one of the following three categories. Pick two examples from each. Then come up with one similarity and three differences between the examples.

  • Romantic comedies
  • Internet search engines
  • Cell phones

Brainstorm an essay that leans toward comparison. Choose one of the following three items. Then come up with one difference and three similarities.

  • Department stores and discount retail stores
  • Fast food chains and fine dining restaurants
  • Dogs and cats

The Structure of a Comparison and Contrast Essay

The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both and the reason for doing so. The thesis could lean more toward comparing, contrasting, or both. Remember, the point of comparing and contrasting is to provide useful knowledge to the reader. Take the following thesis as an example that leans more toward contrasting.

Thesis statement: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Here the thesis sets up the two subjects to be compared and contrasted (organic versus conventional vegetables), and it makes a claim about the results that might prove useful to the reader.

You may organize compare-and-contrast essays in one of the following two ways:

  • According to the subjects themselves, discussing one then the other
  • According to individual points, discussing each subject in relation to each point

See Figure 10.1 “Comparison and Contrast Diagram” , which diagrams the ways to organize our organic versus conventional vegetables thesis.

Figure 10.1 Comparison and Contrast Diagram

Comparison and Contrast Diagram

The organizational structure you choose depends on the nature of the topic, your purpose, and your audience.

Given that compare-and-contrast essays analyze the relationship between two subjects, it is helpful to have some phrases on hand that will cue the reader to such analysis. See Table 10.3 “Phrases of Comparison and Contrast” for examples.

Table 10.3 Phrases of Comparison and Contrast

Create an outline for each of the items you chose in Note 10.72 “Exercise 1” and Note 10.73 “Exercise 2” . Use the point-by-point organizing strategy for one of them, and use the subject organizing strategy for the other.

Writing a Comparison and Contrast Essay

First choose whether you want to compare seemingly disparate subjects, contrast seemingly similar subjects, or compare and contrast subjects. Once you have decided on a topic, introduce it with an engaging opening paragraph. Your thesis should come at the end of the introduction, and it should establish the subjects you will compare, contrast, or both as well as state what can be learned from doing so.

The body of the essay can be organized in one of two ways: by subject or by individual points. The organizing strategy that you choose will depend on, as always, your audience and your purpose. You may also consider your particular approach to the subjects as well as the nature of the subjects themselves; some subjects might better lend themselves to one structure or the other. Make sure to use comparison and contrast phrases to cue the reader to the ways in which you are analyzing the relationship between the subjects.

After you finish analyzing the subjects, write a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the essay and reinforces your thesis. See Chapter 15 “Readings: Examples of Essays” to read a sample compare-and-contrast essay.

Many business presentations are conducted using comparison and contrast. The organizing strategies—by subject or individual points—could also be used for organizing a presentation. Keep this in mind as a way of organizing your content the next time you or a colleague have to present something at work.

Choose one of the outlines you created in Note 10.75 “Exercise 3” , and write a full compare-and-contrast essay. Be sure to include an engaging introduction, a clear thesis, well-defined and detailed paragraphs, and a fitting conclusion that ties everything together.

Key Takeaways

  • A compare-and-contrast essay analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both.
  • The purpose of writing a comparison or contrast essay is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities between two subjects.
  • The thesis should clearly state the subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both, and it should state what is to be learned from doing so.

There are two main organizing strategies for compare-and-contrast essays.

  • Organize by the subjects themselves, one then the other.
  • Organize by individual points, in which you discuss each subject in relation to each point.
  • Use phrases of comparison or phrases of contrast to signal to readers how exactly the two subjects are being analyzed.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

  • Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

This section will help you determine the purpose and structure of comparison/contrast in writing.

The Purpose of Compare/Contrast in Writing

Comparison in writing discusses elements that are similar, while contrast in writing discusses elements that are different. A compare-and-contrast essay, then, analyzes two subjects by comparing them, contrasting them, or both.

The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. The purpose of conducting the comparison or contrast is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities. For example, if you wanted to focus on contrasting two subjects you would not pick apples and oranges; rather, you might choose to compare and contrast two types of oranges or two types of apples to highlight subtle differences. For example, Red Delicious apples are sweet, while Granny Smiths are tart and acidic. Drawing distinctions between elements in a similar category will increase the audience’s understanding of that category, which is the purpose of the compare-and-contrast essay.

Similarly, to focus on comparison, choose two subjects that seem at first to be unrelated. For a comparison essay, you likely would not choose two apples or two oranges because they share so many of the same properties already. Rather, you might try to compare how apples and oranges are quite similar. The more divergent the two subjects initially seem, the more interesting a comparison essay will be.

The Structure of a Compare/Contrast Essay

The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both and the reason for doing so. The thesis could lean more toward comparing, contrasting, or both. Remember, the point of comparing and contrasting is to provide useful knowledge to the reader. Take the following thesis as an example that leans more toward contrasting:

Thesis Statement: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Here the thesis sets up the two subjects to be compared and contrasted (organic versus conventional vegetables), and it makes a claim about the results that might prove useful to the reader.

You may organize compare-and-contrast essays in one of the following two ways:

  • According to the subjects themselves, discussing one then the other
  • According to individual points, discussing each subject in relation to each point

The organizational structure you choose depends on the nature of the topic, your purpose, and your audience.

Given that compare-and-contrast essays analyze the relationship between two subjects, it is helpful to have some phrases on hand that will cue the reader to such analysis.

Phrases of Comparison and Contrast

Writing an Compare/Contrast Essay

First choose whether you want to compare seemingly disparate subjects, contrast seemingly similar subjects, or compare and contrast subjects. Once you have decided on a topic, introduce it with an engaging opening paragraph. Your thesis should come at the end of the introduction, and it should establish the subjects you will compare, contrast, or both as well as state what can be learned from doing so.

The body of the essay can be organized in one of two ways: by subject or by individual points. The organizing strategy that you choose will depend on, as always, your audience and your purpose. You may also consider your particular approach to the subjects as well as the nature of the subjects themselves; some subjects might better lend themselves to one structure or the other. Make sure to use comparison and contrast phrases to cue the reader to the ways in which you are analyzing the relationship between the subjects.

After you finish analyzing the subjects, write a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the essay and reinforces your thesis.

Compare/Contrast Essay Example

Comparing and Contrasting London and Washington, DC

By Scott McLean in Writing for Success

Both Washington, DC, and London are capital cities of English-speaking countries, and yet they offer vastly different experiences to their residents and visitors. Comparing and contrasting the two cities based on their history, their culture, and their residents show how different and similar the two are.

Both cities are rich in world and national history, though they developed on very different time lines. London, for example, has a history that dates back over two thousand years. It was part of the Roman Empire and known by the similar name, Londinium. It was not only one of the northernmost points of the Roman Empire but also the epicenter of the British Empire where it held significant global influence from the early sixteenth century on through the early twentieth century. Washington, DC, on the other hand, has only formally existed since the late eighteenth century. Though Native Americans inhabited the land several thousand years earlier, and settlers inhabited the land as early as the sixteenth century, the city did not become the capital of the United States until the 1790s. From that point onward to today, however, Washington, DC, has increasingly maintained significant global influence. Even though both cities have different histories, they have both held, and continue to hold, significant social influence in the economic and cultural global spheres.

Both Washington, DC, and London offer a wide array of museums that harbor many of the world’s most prized treasures. While Washington, DC, has the National Gallery of Art and several other Smithsonian galleries, London’s art scene and galleries have a definite edge in this category. From the Tate Modern to the British National Gallery, London’s art ranks among the world’s best. This difference and advantage has much to do with London and Britain’s historical depth compared to that of the United States. London has a much richer past than Washington, DC, and consequently has a lot more material to pull from when arranging its collections. Both cities have thriving theater districts, but again, London wins this comparison, too, both in quantity and quality of theater choices. With regard to other cultural places like restaurants, pubs, and bars, both cities are very comparable. Both have a wide selection of expensive, elegant restaurants as well as a similar amount of global and national chains. While London may be better known for its pubs and taste in beer, DC offers a different bar-going experience. With clubs and pubs that tend to stay open later than their British counterparts, the DC night life tend to be less reserved overall.

Both cities also share and differ in cultural diversity and cost of living. Both cities share a very expensive cost of living—both in terms of housing and shopping. A downtown one-bedroom apartment in DC can easily cost $1,800 per month, and a similar “flat” in London may double that amount. These high costs create socioeconomic disparity among the residents. Although both cities’ residents are predominantly wealthy, both have a significantly large population of poor and homeless. Perhaps the most significant difference between the resident demographics is the racial makeup. Washington, DC, is a “minority majority” city, which means the majority of its citizens are races other than white. In 2009, according to the US Census, 55 percent of DC residents were classified as “Black or African American” and 35 percent of its residents were classified as “white.” London, by contrast, has very few minorities—in 2006, 70 percent of its population was “white,” while only 10 percent was “black.” The racial demographic differences between the cities is drastic.

Even though Washington, DC, and London are major capital cities of English-speaking countries in the Western world, they have many differences along with their similarities. They have vastly different histories, art cultures, and racial demographics, but they remain similar in their cost of living and socioeconomic disparity.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • A compare-and-contrast essay analyzes two subjects by either comparing them, contrasting them, or both.
  • The purpose of writing a comparison or contrast essay is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities between two subjects.
  • The thesis should clearly state the subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both, and it should state what is to be learned from doing so.
  • There are two main organizing strategies for compare-and-contrast essays.
  • Organize by the subjects themselves, one then the other.
  • Organize by individual points, in which you discuss each subject in relation to each point.
  • Use phrases of comparison or phrases of contrast to signal to readers how exactly the two subjects are being analyzed.
  • Provided by : Lumen Learning. Located at : http://lumenlearning.com/ . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Successful Writing. Provided by : Anonymous. Located at : http://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/successful-writing/s14-07-comparison-and-contrast.html . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Comparing and Contrasting London and Washington, DC. Authored by : Scott McLean. Located at : http://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/successful-writing/s14-07-comparison-and-contrast.html . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Table of Contents

Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)

  • Overview of Instructor Resources

An Overview of the Writing Process

  • Introduction to the Writing Process
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Your Role as a Learner
  • What is an Essay?
  • Reading to Write
  • Defining the Writing Process
  • Videos: Prewriting Techniques
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organizing an Essay
  • Creating Paragraphs
  • Conclusions
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
  • Peer Review Checklist
  • Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies

Using Sources

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
  • Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
  • APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

Definition Essay

  • Definitional Argument Essay
  • How to Write a Definition Essay
  • Critical Thinking
  • Video: Thesis Explained
  • Effective Thesis Statements
  • Student Sample: Definition Essay

Narrative Essay

  • Introduction to Narrative Essay
  • Student Sample: Narrative Essay
  • "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
  • "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
  • Video: The Danger of a Single Story
  • How to Write an Annotation
  • How to Write a Summary
  • Writing for Success: Narration

Illustration/Example Essay

  • Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
  • "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
  • "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
  • Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
  • Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay

Compare/Contrast Essay

  • Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
  • "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
  • "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
  • "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
  • Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay

Cause-and-Effect Essay

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
  • "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
  • Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
  • Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay

Argument Essay

  • Introduction to Argument Essay
  • Rogerian Argument
  • "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
  • "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
  • How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
  • Writing for Success: Argument
  • Student Sample: Argument Essay
  • Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
  • Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
  • Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
  • Mini-lesson: Fragments I
  • Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
  • Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
  • Mini-lesson: Parallelism
  • Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
  • Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
  • Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
  • De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
  • Style Exercise: Voice
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How to Write a Comparative Essay

Last Updated: May 19, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,680,322 times.

Perhaps you have been assigned a comparative essay in class, or need to write a comprehensive comparative report for work. In order to write a stellar comparative essay, you have to start off by picking two subjects that have enough similarities and differences to be compared in a meaningful way, such as two sports teams or two systems of government. Once you have that, then you have to find at least two or three points of comparison and use research, facts, and well-organized paragraphs to impress and captivate your readers. Writing the comparative essay is an important skill that you will use many times throughout your scholastic career.

Comparative Essay Outline and Example

comparing articles essay

How to Develop the Essay Content

Step 1 Analyze the question or essay prompt carefully.

  • Many comparative essay assignments will signal their purpose by using words such as "compare," "contrast," "similarities," and "differences" in the language of the prompt.
  • Also see whether there are any limits placed on your topic.

Step 2 Understand the type of comparison essay you are being asked to write.

  • The assignment will generally ask guiding questions if you are expected to incorporate comparison as part of a larger assignment. For example: "Choose a particular idea or theme, such as love, beauty, death, or time, and consider how two different Renaissance poets approach this idea." This sentence asks you to compare two poets, but it also asks how the poets approach the point of comparison. In other words, you will need to make an evaluative or analytical argument about those approaches.
  • If you're unclear on what the essay prompt is asking you to do, talk with your instructor. It's much better to clarify questions up front than discover you've written the entire essay incorrectly.

Step 3 List similarities and differences between the items you are comparing.

  • The best place to start is to write a list of things that the items you are comparing have in common as well as differences between them. [3] X Research source

Step 4 Evaluate your list to find your argument.

  • You may want to develop a system such as highlighting different types of similarities in different colors, or use different colours if you are using an electronic device.
  • For example, if you are comparing two novels, you may want to highlight similarities in characters in pink, settings in blue, and themes or messages in green.

Step 5 Establish the basis for your comparison.

  • The basis for your comparison may be assigned to you. Be sure to check your assignment or prompt.
  • A basis for comparison may have to do with a theme, characteristics, or details about two different things. [7] X Research source
  • A basis for comparison may also be known as the “grounds” for comparison or a frame of reference.
  • Keep in mind that comparing 2 things that are too similar makes it hard to write an effective paper. The goal of a comparison paper is to draw interesting parallels and help the reader realize something interesting about our world. This means your subjects must be different enough to make your argument interesting.

Step 6 Research your subjects of comparison.

  • Research may not be required or appropriate for your particular assignment. If your comparative essay is not meant to include research, you should avoid including it.
  • A comparative essay about historical events, social issues, or science-related topics are more likely to require research, while a comparison of two works of literature are less likely to require research.
  • Be sure to cite any research data properly according to the discipline in which you are writing (eg, MLA, APA, or Chicago format).

Step 7 Develop a thesis statement.

  • Your thesis needs to make a claim about your subjects that you will then defend in your essay. It's good for this claim to be a bit controversial or up for interpretation, as this allows you to build a good argument.

How to Organize the Content

Step 1 Outline your comparison.

  • Use a traditional outline form if you would like to, but even a simple list of bulleted points in the order that you plan to present them would help.
  • You can also write down your main points on sticky notes (or type them, print them, and then cut them out) so that you can arrange and rearrange them before deciding on a final order.

Step 2 Use a mixed paragraphs method.

  • The advantages of this structure are that it continually keeps the comparison in the mind of the reader and forces you, the writer, to pay equal attention to each side of the argument.
  • This method is especially recommended for lengthy essays or complicated subjects where both the writer and reader can easily become lost. For Example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X / Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 2: Stylishness of vehicle X / Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 3: Safety rating of vehicle X / Safety rating of vehicle Y

Step 3 Alternate the subjects in each paragraph.

  • The advantages of this structure are that it allows you to discuss points in greater detail and makes it less jarring to tackle two topics that radically different.
  • This method is especially recommended for essays where some depth and detail are required. For example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X Paragraph 2: Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 3: Stylishness of vehicle X Paragraph 4: Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 5: Safety rating of vehicle X Paragraph 6: Safety rating of vehicle Y

Step 4 Cover one subject at a time thoroughly.

  • This method is by far the most dangerous, as your comparison can become both one-sided and difficult for the reader to follow.
  • This method is only recommended for short essays with simplistic subjects that the reader can easily remember as (s)he goes along. For example: Paragraph 1: Engine power of vehicle X Paragraph 2: Stylishness of vehicle X Paragraph 3: Safety rating of vehicle X Paragraph 4: Engine power of vehicle Y Paragraph 5: Stylishness of vehicle Y Paragraph 6: Safety rating of vehicle Y

How to Write the Essay

Step 1 Write your essay out of order.

  • Body paragraphs first . Work through all that information you've been compiling and see what kind of story it tells you. Only when you've worked with your data will you know what the larger point of the paper is.
  • Conclusion second . Now that you've done all the heavy lifting, the point of your essay should be fresh in your mind. Strike while the iron’s hot. Start your conclusion with a restatement of your thesis.
  • Intro last . Open your introduction with a "hook" to grab the reader's attention. Since you've already written your essay, choose a hook that reflects what you will talk about, whether it's a quote, statistic, factoid, rhetorical question, or anecdote. Then, write 1-2 sentences about your topic, narrowing down to your thesis statement, which completes your introduction.

Step 2 Write the body paragraphs.

  • Organize your paragraphs using one of the approaches listed in the "Organizing the Content" part below. Once you have defined your points of comparison, choose the structure for the body paragraphs (where your comparisons go) that makes the most sense for your data. To work out all the organizational kinks, it’s recommended that you write an outline as a placeholder.
  • Be very careful not to address different aspects of each subject. Comparing the color of one thing to the size of another does nothing to help the reader understand how they stack up. [15] X Research source

Step 3 Write the conclusion...

  • Be aware that your various comparisons won’t necessarily lend themselves to an obvious conclusion, especially because people value things differently. If necessary, make the parameters of your argument more specific. (Ex. “Though X is more stylish and powerful, Y’s top safety ratings make it a more appropriate family vehicle .”)
  • When you have two radically different topics, it sometimes helps to point out one similarity they have before concluding. (i.e. "Although X and Y don't seem to have anything in common, in actuality, they both ....”)

Step 4 Write the introduction...

  • Even the best writers know editing is important to produce a good piece. Your essay will not be your best effort unless you revise it.
  • If possible, find a friend to look over the essay, as he or she may find problems that you missed.
  • It sometimes helps to increase or decrease the font size while editing to change the visual layout of the paper. Looking at the same thing for too long makes your brain fill in what it expects instead of what it sees, leaving you more likely to overlook errors.

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

  • The title and introduction really catch the reader's attention and make them read the essay. Make sure you know how to write a catchy essay title . Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1
  • Quotes should be used sparingly and must thoroughly complement the point they are being used to exemplify/justify. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 2
  • The key principle to remember in a comparative paragraph or essay is that you must clarify precisely what you are comparing and keep that comparison alive throughout the essay. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 2

comparing articles essay

  • Avoid vague language such as "people," "stuff," "things," etc. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
  • Avoid, at all costs, the conclusion that the two subjects are "similar, yet different." This commonly found conclusion weakens any comparative essay, because it essentially says nothing about the comparison. Most things are "similar, yet different" in some way. Thanks Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
  • Some believe that an "unbalanced" comparison - that is, when the essay focuses predominantly on one of the two issues, and gives less importance to the other - is weaker, and that writers should strive for 50/50 treatment of the texts or issues being examined. Others, however, value emphasis in the essay that reflects the particular demands of the essay's purpose or thesis. One text may simply provide context, or historical/artistic/political reference for the main text, and therefore need not occupy half of the essay's discussion or analysis. A "weak" essay in this context would strive to treat unequal texts equally, rather than strive to appropriately apportion space to the relevant text. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
  • Beware of the "Frying Pan Conclusion" in which you simply recount everything that was said in the main body of the essay. While your conclusion should include a simple summary of your argument, it should also emphatically state the point in a new and convincing way, one which the reader will remember clearly. If you can see a way forward from a problem or dilemma, include that as well. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1

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Write an Essay

  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/comparing-and-contrasting/
  • ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/specific-types-of-writing/comparative-essay
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/comparing-and-contrasting/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/how-write-comparative-analysis
  • ↑ https://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/style_purpose_strategy/compare_contrast.html
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/10-7-comparison-and-contrast/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
  • How to Structure Paragraphs in an Essay

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a comparative essay, start by writing an introduction that introduces the 2 subjects you'll be comparing. You should also include your thesis statement in the introduction, which should state what you've concluded based on your comparisons. Next, write the body of your essay so that each paragraph focuses on one point of comparison between your subjects. Finally, write a conclusion that summarizes your main points and draws a larger conclusion about the two things you compared. To learn how to do research for your essay, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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34 Compelling Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Topics cover education, technology, pop culture, sports, animals, and more.

comparing articles essay

Do your writers need some inspiration? If you’re teaching students to write a compare and contrast essay, a strong example is an invaluable tool. This round-up of our favorite compare and contrast essays covers a range of topics and grade levels, so no matter your students’ interests or ages, you’ll always have a helpful example to share. You’ll find links to full essays about education, technology, pop culture, sports, animals, and more. (Need compare-and-contrast essay topic ideas? Check out our big list of compare and contrast essay topics! )

What is a compare and contrast essay?

  • Education and parenting essays
  • Technology essays
  • Pop culture essays
  • Historical and political essays
  • Sports essays
  • Lifestyle essays
  • Healthcare essays
  • Animal essays

When choosing a compare and contrast essay example to include on this list, we considered the structure. A strong compare and contrast essay begins with an introductory paragraph that includes background context and a strong thesis. Next, the body includes paragraphs that explore the similarities and differences. Finally, a concluding paragraph restates the thesis, draws any necessary inferences, and asks any remaining questions.

A compare and contrast essay example can be an opinion piece comparing two things and making a conclusion about which is better. For example, “Is Tom Brady really the GOAT?” It can also help consumers decide which product is better suited to them. Should you keep your subscription to Hulu or Netflix? Should you stick with Apple or explore Android? Here’s our list of compare and contrast essay samples categorized by subject.

Education and Parenting Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Private school vs. public school.

Sample lines: “Deciding whether to send a child to public or private school can be a tough choice for parents. … Data on whether public or private education is better can be challenging to find and difficult to understand, and the cost of private school can be daunting. … According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, public schools still attract far more students than private schools, with 50.7 million students attending public school as of 2018. Private school enrollment in the fall of 2017 was 5.7 million students, a number that is down from 6 million in 1999.”

Read the full essay: Private School vs. Public School at U.S. News and World Report

Homeschool vs. Public School: How Home Schooling Will Change Public Education

Homeschool vs. Public School: How Home Schooling Will Change Public Education

Sample lines: “Home schooling, not a present threat to public education, is nonetheless one of the forces that will change it. If the high estimates of the number of children in home schools (1.2 million) is correct, then the home-schooling universe is larger than the New York City public school system and roughly the size of the Los Angeles and Chicago public school systems combined. … Critics charge that three things are wrong with home schooling: harm to students academically; harm to society by producing students who are ill-prepared to function as democratic citizens and participants in a modern economy; and harm to public education, making it more difficult for other parents to educate their children. … It is time to ask whether home schooling, charters, and vouchers should be considered parts of a broad repertoire of methods that we as a society use to educate our children.”

Read the full essay: Homeschool vs. Public School: How Home Schooling Will Change Public Education at Brookings

Which parenting style is right for you?

Sample lines: “The three main types of parenting are on a type of ‘sliding scale’ of parenting, with permissive parenting as the least strict type of parenting. Permissive parenting typically has very few rules, while authoritarian parenting is thought of as a very strict, rule-driven type of parenting.”

Read the full essay: What Is Authoritative Parenting? at Healthline

Masked Education? The Benefits and Burdens of Wearing Face Masks in Schools During the Pandemic

Sample lines: “Face masks can prevent the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2. … However, covering the lower half of the face reduces the ability to communicate. Positive emotions become less recognizable, and negative emotions are amplified. Emotional mimicry, contagion, and emotionality in general are reduced and (thereby) bonding between teachers and learners, group cohesion, and learning—of which emotions are a major driver. The benefits and burdens of face masks in schools should be seriously considered and made obvious and clear to teachers and students.”

Read the full essay: Masked Education? The Benefits and Burdens of Wearing Face Masks in Schools During the Pandemic at National Library of Medicine

To Ban or Not: What Should We Really Make of Book Bans?

To Ban or Not: What Should We Really Make of Book Bans?

Sample lines: “In recent years, book bans have soared in schools, reaching an all-time high in fall 2022. … The challenge of balancing parent concerns about ‘age appropriateness’ against the imperative of preparing students to be informed citizens is still on the minds of many educators today. … Such curricular decision-making  should  be left to the professionals, argues English/language arts instructional specialist Miriam Plotinsky. ‘Examining texts for their appropriateness is not a job that noneducators are trained to do,’ she wrote last year, as the national debate over censorship resurged with the news that a Tennessee district banned the graphic novel  Maus  just days before Holocaust Remembrance Day.”

Read the full essay: To Ban or Not: What Should We Really Make of Book Bans? at Education Week

Technology Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Netflix vs. hulu 2023: which is the best streaming service.

Sample lines: “Netflix fans will point to its high-quality originals, including  The Witcher ,  Stranger Things ,  Emily in Paris ,  Ozark , and more, as well as a wide variety of documentaries like  Cheer ,  The Last Dance ,  My Octopus Teacher , and many others. It also boasts a much larger subscription base, with more than 222 million subscribers compared to Hulu’s 44 million. Hulu, on the other hand, offers a variety of extras such as HBO and Showtime—content that’s unavailable on Netflix. Its price tag is also cheaper than the competition, with its $7/mo. starting price, which is a bit more palatable than Netflix’s $10/mo. starting price.”

Read the full essay: Netflix vs. Hulu 2023: Which is the best streaming service? at TV Guide

Kindle vs. Hardcover: Which is easier on the eyes?

Kindle vs. Hardcover: Which is easier on the eyes?

Sample lines: “In the past, we would have to drag around heavy books if we were really into reading. Now, we can have all of those books, and many more, stored in one handy little device that can easily be stuffed into a backpack, purse, etc. … Many of us still prefer to hold an actual book in our hands. … But, whether you use a Kindle or prefer hardcover books or paperbacks, the main thing is that you enjoy reading. A story in a book or on a Kindle device can open up new worlds, take you to fantasy worlds, educate you, entertain you, and so much more.”

Read the full essay: Kindle vs. Hardcover: Which is easier on the eyes? at Books in a Flash

iPhone vs. Android: Which is better for you?

Sample lines: “The iPhone vs. Android comparison is a never-ending debate on which one is best. It will likely never have a real winner, but we’re going to try and help you to find your personal pick all the same. iOS 17 and Android 14—the latest versions of the two operating systems—both offer smooth and user-friendly experiences, and several similar or identical features. But there are still important differences to be aware of. … Owning an iPhone is a simpler, more convenient experience. There’s less to think about. … Android-device ownership is a bit harder. … Yet it’s simultaneously more freeing, because it offers more choice.”

Read the full essay: iPhone vs. Android: Which is better for you? at Tom’s Guide

Cutting the cord: Is streaming or cable better for you?

Sample lines: “Cord-cutting has become a popular trend in recent years, thanks to the rise of streaming services. For those unfamiliar, cord cutting is the process of canceling your cable subscription and instead, relying on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu to watch your favorite shows and movies. The primary difference is that you can select your streaming services à la carte while cable locks you in on a set number of channels through bundles. So, the big question is: should you cut the cord?”

Read the full essay: Cutting the cord: Is streaming or cable better for you? at BroadbandNow

PS5 vs. Nintendo Switch

PS5 vs. Nintendo Switch

Sample lines: “The crux of the comparison comes down to portability versus power. Being able to migrate fully fledged Nintendo games from a big screen to a portable device is a huge asset—and one that consumers have taken to, especially given the Nintendo Switch’s meteoric sales figures. … It is worth noting that many of the biggest franchises like Call of Duty, Madden, modern Resident Evil titles, newer Final Fantasy games, Grand Theft Auto, and open-world Ubisoft adventures like Assassin’s Creed will usually skip Nintendo Switch due to its lack of power. The inability to play these popular games practically guarantees that a consumer will pick up a modern system, while using the Switch as a secondary device.”

Read the full essay: PS5 vs. Nintendo Switch at Digital Trends

What is the difference between Facebook and Instagram?

Sample lines: “Have you ever wondered what is the difference between Facebook and Instagram? Instagram and Facebook are by far the most popular social media channels used by digital marketers. Not to mention that they’re also the biggest platforms used by internet users worldwide. So, today we’ll look into the differences and similarities between these two platforms to help you figure out which one is the best fit for your business.”

Read the full essay: What is the difference between Facebook and Instagram? at SocialBee

Digital vs. Analog Watches—What’s the Difference?

Sample lines: “In short, digital watches use an LCD or LED screen to display the time. Whereas, an analog watch features three hands to denote the hour, minutes, and seconds. With the advancement in watch technology and research, both analog and digital watches have received significant improvements over the years. Especially in terms of design, endurance, and accompanying features. … At the end of the day, whether you go analog or digital, it’s a personal preference to make based on your style, needs, functions, and budget.”

Read the full essay: Digital vs. Analog Watches—What’s the Difference? at Watch Ranker

AI Art vs. Human Art: A Side-by-Side Analysis

Sample lines: “Art has always been a reflection of human creativity, emotion, and cultural expression. However, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a new form of artistic creation has emerged, blurring the lines between what is created by human hands and what is generated by algorithms. … Despite the excitement surrounding AI Art, it also raises complex ethical, legal, and artistic questions that have sparked debates about the definition of art, the role of the artist, and the future of art production. … Regardless of whether AI Art is considered ‘true’ art, it is crucial to embrace and explore the vast possibilities and potential it brings to the table. The transformative influence of AI art on the art world is still unfolding, and only time will reveal its true extent.”

Read the full essay: AI Art vs. Human Art: A Side-by-Side Analysis at Raul Lara

Pop Culture Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Christina aguilera vs. britney spears.

Christina Aguilera vs. Britney Spears- compare and contrast essay example

Sample lines: “Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera was the Coke vs. Pepsi of 1999 — no, really, Christina repped Coke and Britney shilled for Pepsi. The two teen idols released debut albums seven months apart before the turn of the century, with Britney’s becoming a standard-bearer for bubblegum pop and Aguilera’s taking an R&B bent to show off her range. … It’s clear that Spears and Aguilera took extremely divergent paths following their simultaneous breakout successes.”

Read the full essay: Christina Aguilera vs. Britney Spears at The Ringer

Harry Styles vs. Ed Sheeran

Sample lines: “The world heard our fantasies and delivered us two titans simultaneously—we have been blessed with Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles. Our cup runneth over; our bounty is immeasurable. More remarkable still is the fact that both have released albums almost at the same time: Ed’s third, Divide , was released in March and broke the record for one-day Spotify streams, while Harry’s frenziedly anticipated debut solo, called Harry Styles , was released yesterday.”

Read the full essay: Harry Styles versus Ed Sheeran at Belfast Telegraph

The Grinch: Three Versions Compared

Sample lines: “Based on the original story of the same name, this movie takes a completely different direction by choosing to break away from the cartoony form that Seuss had established by filming the movie in a live-action form. Whoville is preparing for Christmas while the Grinch looks down upon their celebrations in disgust. Like the previous film, The Grinch hatches a plan to ruin Christmas for the Who’s. … Like in the original Grinch, he disguises himself as Santa Claus, and makes his dog, Max, into a reindeer. He then takes all of the presents from the children and households. … Cole’s favorite is the 2000 edition, while Alex has only seen the original. Tell us which one is your favorite.”

Read the full essay: The Grinch: Three Versions Compared at Wooster School

Historical and Political Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Malcolm x vs. martin luther king jr.: comparison between two great leaders’ ideologies .

Sample lines: “Although they were fighting for civil rights at the same time, their ideology and way of fighting were completely distinctive. This can be for a plethora of reasons: background, upbringing, the system of thought, and vision. But keep in mind, they devoted their whole life to the same prospect. … Through boycotts and marches, [King] hoped to end racial segregation. He felt that the abolition of segregation would improve the likelihood of integration. Malcolm X, on the other hand, spearheaded a movement for black empowerment.”

Read the full essay: Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King Jr.: Comparison Between Two Great Leaders’ Ideologies  at Melaninful

Contrast Between Obama and Trump Has Become Clear

Contrast Between Obama and Trump Has Become Clear

Sample lines: “The contrast is even clearer when we look to the future. Trump promises more tax cuts, more military spending, more deficits and deeper cuts in programs for the vulnerable. He plans to nominate a coal lobbyist to head the Environmental Protection Agency. … Obama says America must move forward, and he praises progressive Democrats for advocating Medicare for all. … With Obama and then Trump, Americans have elected two diametrically opposed leaders leading into two very different directions.”

Read the full essay: Contrast Between Obama and Trump Has Become Clear at Chicago Sun-Times

Sports Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Lebron james vs. kobe bryant: a complete comparison.

Sample lines: “LeBron James has achieved so much in his career that he is seen by many as the greatest of all time, or at least the only player worthy of being mentioned in the GOAT conversation next to Michael Jordan. Bridging the gap between Jordan and LeBron though was Kobe Bryant, who often gets left out of comparisons and GOAT conversations. … Should his name be mentioned more though? Can he compare to LeBron or is The King too far past The Black Mamba in historical rankings already?”

Read the full essay: LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant: A Complete Comparison at Sportskeeda

NFL: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Rivalry Comparison

NFL: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Rivalry Comparison

Sample lines: “Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were largely considered the best quarterbacks in the NFL for the majority of the time they spent in the league together, with the icons having many head-to-head clashes in the regular season and on the AFC side of the NFL Playoffs. Manning was the leader of the Indianapolis Colts of the AFC South. … Brady spent his career as the QB of the AFC East’s New England Patriots, before taking his talents to Tampa Bay. … The reality is that winning is the most important aspect of any career, and Brady won more head-to-head matchups than Manning did.”

Read the full essay: NFL: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Rivalry Comparison at Sportskeeda

The Greatest NBA Franchise Ever: Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers?

Sample lines: “The Celtics are universally considered as the greatest franchise in NBA history. But if you take a close look at the numbers, there isn’t really too much separation between them and their arch-rival Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, you can even make a good argument for the Lakers. … In 72 seasons played, the Boston Celtics have won a total of 3,314 games and lost 2,305 or a .590 winning mark. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Lakers have won 3,284 of 5,507 total games played or a slightly better winning record of .596. … But while the Lakers have the better winning percentage, the Celtics have the advantage over them in head-to-head competition.”

Read the full essay: The Greatest NBA Franchise Ever: Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers? at Sport One

Is Soccer Better Than Football?

Sample lines: “Is soccer better than football? Soccer and football lovers have numerous reasons to support their sport of choice. Both keep the players physically fit and help to bring people together for an exciting cause. However, soccer has drawn more numbers globally due to its popularity in more countries.”

Read the full essay: Is Soccer Better Than Football? at Sports Brief

Lifestyle Choices Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Mobile home vs. tiny house: similarities, differences, pros & cons.

Mobile Home vs. Tiny House: Similarities, Differences, Pros & Cons

Sample lines: “Choosing the tiny home lifestyle enables you to spend more time with those you love. The small living space ensures quality bonding time rather than hiding away in a room or behind a computer screen. … You’ll be able to connect closer to nature and find yourself able to travel the country at any given moment. On the other hand, we have the mobile home. … They are built on a chassis with transportation in mind. … They are not built to be moved on a constant basis. … While moving the home again *is* possible, it may cost you several thousand dollars.”

Read the full essay: Mobile Home vs. Tiny House: Similarities, Differences, Pros & Cons at US Mobile Home Pros

Whole Foods vs. Walmart: The Story of Two Grocery Stores

Sample lines: “It is clear that both stores have very different stories and aims when it comes to their customers. Whole Foods looks to provide organic, healthy, exotic, and niche products for an audience with a very particular taste. … Walmart, on the other hand, looks to provide the best deals, every possible product, and every big brand for a broader audience. … Moreover, they look to make buying affordable and accessible, and focus on the capitalist nature of buying.”

Read the full essay: Whole Foods vs. Walmart: The Story of Two Grocery Stores at The Archaeology of Us

Artificial Grass vs. Turf: The Real Differences Revealed

Sample lines: “The key difference between artificial grass and turf is their intended use. Artificial turf is largely intended to be used for sports, so it is shorter and tougher. On the other hand, artificial grass is generally longer, softer and more suited to landscaping purposes. Most homeowners would opt for artificial grass as a replacement for a lawn, for example. Some people actually prefer playing sports on artificial grass, too … artificial grass is often softer and more bouncy, giving it a feel similar to playing on a grassy lawn. … At the end of the day, which one you will choose will depend on your specific household and needs.”

Read the full essay: Artificial Grass vs. Turf: The Real Differences Revealed at Almost Grass

Minimalism vs. Maximalism: Differences, Similarities, and Use Cases

Minimalism vs. Maximalism: Differences, Similarities, and Use Cases- compare and contrast essay example

Sample lines: “Maximalists love shopping, especially finding unique pieces. They see it as a hobby—even a skill—and a way to express their personality. Minimalists don’t like shopping and see it as a waste of time and money. They’d instead use those resources to create memorable experiences. Maximalists desire one-of-a-kind possessions. Minimalists are happy with duplicates—for example, personal uniforms. … Minimalism and maximalism are about being intentional with your life and belongings. It’s about making choices based on what’s important to you.”

Read the full essay: Minimalism vs. Maximalism: Differences, Similarities, and Use Cases at Minimalist Vegan

Vegetarian vs. Meat Eating: Is It Better To Be a Vegetarian?

Sample lines: “You’ve heard buzz over the years that following a vegetarian diet is better for your health, and you’ve probably read a few magazine articles featuring a celeb or two who swore off meat and animal products and ‘magically’ lost weight. So does ditching meat automatically equal weight loss? Will it really help you live longer and be healthier overall? … Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure  and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease. But if your vegetarian co-worker is noshing greasy veggie burgers and fries every day for lunch, is he likely to be healthier than you, who always orders the grilled salmon? Definitely not!”

Read the full essay: Vegetarian vs. Meat Eating: Is It Better To Be a Vegetarian? at WebMD

Healthcare Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Similarities and differences between the health systems in australia & usa.

Sample lines: “Australia and the United States are two very different countries. They are far away from each other, have contrasting fauna and flora, differ immensely by population, and have vastly different healthcare systems. The United States has a population of 331 million people, compared to Australia’s population of 25.5 million people.”

Read the full essay: Similarities and Differences Between the Health Systems in Australia & USA at Georgia State University

Universal Healthcare in the United States of America: A Healthy Debate

Universal Healthcare in the United States of America: A Healthy Debate

Sample lines: “Disadvantages of universal healthcare include significant upfront costs and logistical challenges. On the other hand, universal healthcare may lead to a healthier populace, and thus, in the long-term, help to mitigate the economic costs of an unhealthy nation. In particular, substantial health disparities exist in the United States, with low socio-economic status segments of the population subject to decreased access to quality healthcare and increased risk of non-communicable chronic conditions such as obesity and type II diabetes, among other determinants of poor health.”

Read the full essay: Universal Healthcare in the United States of America: A Healthy Debate at National Library of Medicine

Pros and Cons of Physician Aid in Dying

Sample lines: “Physician aid in dying is a controversial subject raising issues central to the role of physicians. … The two most common arguments in favor of legalizing AID are respect for patient autonomy and relief of suffering. A third, related, argument is that AID is a safe medical practice, requiring a health care professional. … Although opponents of AID offer many arguments ranging from pragmatic to philosophical, we focus here on concerns that the expansion of AID might cause additional, unintended harm through suicide contagion, slippery slope, and the deaths of patients suffering from depression.”

Read the full essay: Pros and Cons of Physician Aid in Dying at National Library of Medicine

Animals Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

Compare and contrast paragraph—dogs and cats.

Compare and Contrast Paragraph—Dogs and Cats- compare and contrast essay example

Sample lines: “Researchers have found that dogs have about twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortexes than what cats have. Specifically, dogs had around 530 million neurons, whereas the domestic cat only had 250 million neurons. Moreover, dogs can be trained to learn and respond to our commands, but although your cat understands your name, and anticipates your every move, he/she may choose to ignore you.”

Read the full essay: Compare and Contrast Paragraph—Dogs and Cats at Proofwriting Guru via YouTube

Giddyup! The Differences Between Horses and Dogs

Sample lines: “Horses are prey animals with a deep herding instinct. They are highly sensitive to their environment, hyper aware, and ready to take flight if needed. Just like dogs, some horses are more confident than others, but just like dogs, all need a confident handler to teach them what to do. Some horses are highly reactive and can be spooked by the smallest things, as are dogs. … Another distinction between horses and dogs … was that while dogs have been domesticated , horses have been  tamed. … Both species have influenced our culture more than any other species on the planet.”

Read the full essay: Giddyup! The Differences Between Horses and Dogs at Positively Victoria Stilwell

Exotic, Domesticated, and Wild Pets

Sample lines: “Although the words ‘exotic’ and ‘wild’ are frequently used interchangeably, many people do not fully understand how these categories differ when it comes to pets. ‘A wild animal is an indigenous, non-domesticated animal, meaning that it is native to the country where you are located,’ Blue-McLendon explained. ‘For Texans, white-tailed deer, pronghorn sheep, raccoons, skunks, and bighorn sheep are wild animals … an exotic animal is one that is wild but is from a different continent than where you live.’ For example, a hedgehog in Texas would be considered an exotic animal, but in the hedgehog’s native country, it would be considered wildlife.”

Read the full essay: Exotic, Domesticated, and Wild Pets at Texas A&M University

Should Zoos Be Banned? Pros & Cons of Zoos

Should Zoos Be Banned? Pros & Cons of Zoos

Sample lines: “The pros and cons of zoos often come from two very different points of view. From a legal standard, animals are often treated as property. That means they have less rights than humans, so a zoo seems like a positive place to maintain a high quality of life. For others, the forced enclosure of any animal feels like an unethical decision. … Zoos provide a protected environment for endangered animals, and also help in raising awareness and funding for wildlife initiatives and research projects. … Zoos are key for research. Being able to observe and study animals is crucial if we want to contribute to help them and repair the ecosystems. … Zoos are a typical form of family entertainment, but associating leisure and fun with the contemplation of animals in captivity can send the wrong signals to our children.”

Read the full essay: Should Zoos Be Banned? Pros & Cons of Zoos at EcoCation

Do you have a favorite compare and contrast essay example? Come share in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, if you liked these compare and contrast essay examples check out intriguing compare and contrast essay topics for kids and teens ..

A good compare and contrast essay example, like the ones here, explores the similarities and differences between two or more subjects.

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5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

A compare and contrast essay selects two or more items that are critically analyzed to demonstrate their differences and similarities. Here is a template for you that provides the general structure:

compare and contrast essay format

A range of example essays is presented below.

Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

#1 jean piaget vs lev vygotsky essay.

1480 Words | 5 Pages | 10 References

(Level: University Undergraduate)

paget vs vygotsky essay

Thesis Statement: “This essay will critically examine and compare the developmental theories of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, focusing on their differing views on cognitive development in children and their influence on educational psychology, through an exploration of key concepts such as the role of culture and environment, scaffolding, equilibration, and their overall implications for educational practices..”

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Thesis Statement: “The thesis of this analysis is that, despite the efficiency and control offered by authoritarian regimes, democratic systems, with their emphasis on individual freedoms, participatory governance, and social welfare, present a more balanced and ethically sound approach to governance, better aligned with the ideals of a just and progressive society.”

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#5 Dogs vs Cats Essay

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How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

I’ve recorded a full video for you on how to write a compare and contrast essay:

Get the Compare and Contrast Templates with AI Prompts Here

In the video, I outline the steps to writing your essay. Here they are explained below:

1. Essay Planning

First, I recommend using my compare and contrast worksheet, which acts like a Venn Diagram, walking you through the steps of comparing the similarities and differences of the concepts or items you’re comparing.

I recommend selecting 3-5 features that can be compared, as shown in the worksheet:

compare and contrast worksheet

Grab the Worksheet as Part of the Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Pack

2. Writing the Essay

Once you’ve completed the worksheet, you’re ready to start writing. Go systematically through each feature you are comparing and discuss the similarities and differences, then make an evaluative statement after showing your depth of knowledge:

compare and contrast essay template

Get the Rest of the Premium Compare and Contrast Essay Writing Pack (With AI Prompts) Here

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

Compare and contrast thesis statements can either:

  • Remain neutral in an expository tone.
  • Prosecute an argument about which of the items you’re comparing is overall best.

To write an argumentative thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay, try this AI Prompts:

💡 AI Prompt to Generate Ideas I am writing a compare and contrast essay that compares [Concept 1] and [Concept2]. Give me 5 potential single-sentence thesis statements that pass a reasonable judgement.

Ready to Write your Essay?

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Take action! Choose one of the following options to start writing your compare and contrast essay now:

Read Next: Process Essay Examples

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Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 50 Durable Goods Examples
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  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 30 Globalization Pros and Cons
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10 Easy Steps: How to Write a Comparative Analysis of Two Articles

10 Easy Steps How to Write a Comparative Analysis of Two Articles

Writing a comparative analysis of two articles may seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach and a clear understanding of the process, it can be a rewarding and enlightening experience. In this article, we will guide you through 10 easy steps to help you write a comprehensive and insightful comparative analysis.

Step 1: Choose Your Articles

step 1  choose your articles

The first step in writing a comparative analysis is to select two articles that are relevant to your topic. Look for articles that discuss similar themes or present contrasting viewpoints. Ensure that the articles are credible and well-researched to provide a solid foundation for your analysis .

Choosing relevant articles

When choosing articles for your comparative analysis, consider their relevance to your topic. Look for articles that address similar issues or provide different perspectives on the same subject. This will allow you to compare and contrast the ideas presented in each article.

Step 2: Read and Understand the Articles

step 2  read and understand the articles

Before you can begin your analysis, it is crucial to thoroughly read and understand the articles. Take notes as you read, highlighting key points, arguments, and evidence presented by the authors. This will help you identify the main ideas and arguments in each article.

Active reading and note-taking

When reading the articles, actively engage with the text by taking notes. This will help you remember important details and make it easier to compare and contrast the articles later. Highlight key points, arguments, and evidence presented by the authors to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the material.

Step 3: Identify the Main Arguments

step 3  identify the main arguments

Once you have read and understood the articles, identify the main arguments presented by each author. Look for the central ideas or claims that the authors are making and consider how they support these arguments with evidence or examples.

Identifying main arguments

To identify the main arguments in each article, ask yourself what the authors are trying to prove or persuade the reader of. Look for statements that express a clear position or claim and consider how the authors support these arguments with evidence or reasoning.

Step 4: Analyze the Structure and Organization

step 4  analyze the structure and organization

Next, analyze the structure and organization of each article. Consider how the authors present their ideas, the order in which they present information, and the overall flow of the articles. This will help you understand how the authors structure their arguments and present their evidence.

Structural analysis

When analyzing the structure of the articles, consider the following questions:

  • How do the authors introduce their topic?
  • What is the main thesis or argument of each article?
  • How do the authors support their arguments?
  • What evidence or examples do they provide?
  • How do the authors conclude their articles?

By answering these questions, you will gain a deeper understanding of how the articles are organized and how the authors present their ideas.

Step 5: Compare and Contrast the Articles

step 5  compare and contrast the articles

Now that you have analyzed the main arguments and the structure of each article, it's time to compare and contrast them. Look for similarities and differences in the authors' viewpoints, arguments, evidence, and conclusions.

Comparing and contrasting

When comparing and contrasting the articles, consider the following aspects:

  • Are the authors presenting similar or opposing viewpoints?
  • Do they use similar or different evidence to support their arguments?
  • Are there any common themes or ideas in both articles?
  • Do the authors reach similar or different conclusions?

By examining these aspects, you will be able to identify the similarities and differences between the articles and gain a deeper understanding of the topic.

Step 6: Evaluate the Strengths and Weaknesses

step 6  evaluate the strengths and weaknesses

After comparing and contrasting the articles, it's important to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Consider the effectiveness of the authors' arguments, the quality of their evidence, and the overall persuasiveness of their writing.

Evaluating strengths and weaknesses

When evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the articles, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the authors' arguments logical and well-supported?
  • Do they provide sufficient evidence to back up their claims?
  • Are there any weaknesses or gaps in their reasoning?
  • Is the writing style clear and engaging?

By critically evaluating the articles, you will be able to assess their overall quality and credibility.

Step 7: Formulate Your Thesis Statement

step 7  formulate your thesis statement

Based on your analysis and evaluation of the articles, formulate a clear and concise thesis statement that summarizes your main findings. Your thesis statement should express your overall assessment of the articles and provide a roadmap for your comparative analysis.

Formulating a thesis statement

When formulating your thesis statement, consider the following guidelines:

  • State your main findings or conclusions about the articles.
  • Highlight the key similarities and differences between the articles.
  • Provide a brief overview of your analysis and evaluation.

By following these guidelines, you will create a strong and focused thesis statement that sets the direction for your comparative analysis.

Step 8: Organize Your Analysis

With your thesis statement in place , it's time to organize your comparative analysis. Create an outline that outlines the main sections and sub-sections of your analysis, ensuring a logical flow of ideas and a clear structure

Organizing your analysis

When organizing your analysis, consider the following structure:

  • Introduction: Introduce the topic, provide background information , and present your thesis statement.
  • Main Body: Divide your analysis into sections based on the main points or themes you want to discuss. Within each section, compare and contrast the articles, providing evidence and examples to support your analysis.
  • Conclusion: Summarize your main findings, restate your thesis statement, and provide a final assessment of the articles.

By organizing your analysis in this way, you will ensure a clear and coherent presentation of your ideas.

Step 9: Write Your Comparative Analysis

step 9  write your comparative analysis

Now that you have organized your analysis, it's time to write your comparative analysis. Start by writing an engaging introduction that provides context and introduces your thesis statement. Then, proceed to the main body of your analysis, where you compare and contrast the articles in detail. Finally, conclude your analysis by summarizing your main findings and providing a final assessment of the articles.

Writing your comparative analysis

When writing your comparative analysis, consider the following tips:

  • Use clear and concise language to convey your ideas.
  • Provide evidence and examples to support your analysis.
  • Use transitional words and phrases to ensure a smooth flow of ideas.
  • Refer back to your thesis statement to maintain focus and coherence.

By following these tips, you will be able to write a well-structured and insightful comparative analysis.

Writing a comparative analysis of two articles may seem challenging at first, but by following these 10 easy steps, you can approach the task with confidence and produce a high-quality analysis. Remember to choose relevant articles, read and understand them thoroughly, identify the main arguments, analyze the structure and organization, compare and contrast the articles, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, formulate a clear thesis statement, organize your analysis, and finally, write your comparative analysis. By following these steps, you will be able to write a comprehensive and insightful comparative analysis that showcases your analytical skills and understanding of the topic.

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What is a comparative analysis of two articles?

A comparative analysis of two articles is a type of academic writing that involves critically examining and comparing two different articles on a similar topic. It requires analyzing the similarities and differences between the articles, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and drawing meaningful conclusions.

How do I start writing a comparative analysis of two articles?

To start writing a comparative analysis of two articles, begin by carefully reading and understanding both articles. Take notes on the main ideas, arguments, evidence, and any other relevant information. Then, create an outline to organize your analysis, focusing on the key points you want to compare and contrast. Finally, write your analysis, making sure to provide clear explanations and examples to support your points.

What should I include in a comparative analysis of two articles?

In a comparative analysis of two articles, you should include an introduction that provides background information on the articles and states your thesis or main argument. Then, compare and contrast the articles based on specific criteria, such as their research methods, theoretical frameworks, findings, or arguments. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each article and discuss their implications. Finally, conclude by summarizing your analysis and offering your own insights or recommendations.

Asim Akhtar

Asim Akhtar

Asim is the CEO & founder of AtOnce. After 5 years of marketing & customer service experience, he's now using Artificial Intelligence to save people time.

101 Compare and Contrast Essay Topics

Great Ideas for Essays

  • Teaching Resources
  • An Introduction to Teaching
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Policies & Discipline
  • Community Involvement
  • School Administration
  • Technology in the Classroom
  • Teaching Adult Learners
  • Issues In Education
  • Becoming A Teacher
  • Assessments & Tests
  • Elementary Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Special Education
  • Homeschooling
  • M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Florida
  • B.A., History, University of Florida

Compare and contrast essays are taught in school for many reasons. For one thing, they are relatively easy to teach, understand, and format. Students can typically understand the structure with just a short amount of instruction. In addition, these essays allow students develop critical thinking skills to approach a variety of topics.

Brainstorming Tip

One fun way to get students started brainstorming their compare and contrast essays is to create a Venn diagram , where the overlapping sections of the circle contain similarities and the non-overlapping areas contain the differing traits.

Following is a list of 101 topics for compare and contrast essays that you are welcome to use in your classroom. As you look through the list you will see that some items are academic in nature while others are included for interest-building and fun writing activities.

  • Apple vs. Microsoft
  • Coke vs. Pepsi
  • Renaissance Art vs. Baroque Art
  • Antebellum Era vs. Reconstruction Era in American History
  • Childhood vs. Adulthood
  • Star Wars vs. Star Trek
  • Biology vs. Chemistry
  • Astrology vs. Astronomy
  • American Government vs. British Government (or any world government)
  • Fruits vs. Vegetables
  • Dogs vs. Cats
  • Ego vs. Superego
  • Christianity vs. Judaism (or any world religion )
  • Republican vs. Democrat
  • Monarchy vs. Presidency
  • US President vs. UK Prime Minister
  • Jazz vs. Classical Music
  • Red vs. White (or any two colors)
  • Soccer vs. Football
  • North vs. South Before the Civil War
  • New England Colonies vs. Middle Colonies OR vs. Southern Colonies
  • Cash vs. Credit Cards
  • Sam vs. Frodo Baggins
  • Gandalf vs. Dumbledore
  • Fred vs. Shaggy
  • Rap vs. Pop
  • Articles of Confederation vs. U.S. Constitution
  • Henry VIII vs. King Louis XIV
  • Stocks vs. Bonds
  • Monopolies vs. Oligopolies
  • Communism vs. Capitalism
  • Socialism vs. Capitalism
  • Diesel vs. Petroleum
  • Nuclear Power vs. Solar Power
  • Saltwater Fish vs. Freshwater Fish
  • Squids vs. Octopus
  • Mammals vs. Reptiles
  • Baleen vs. Toothed Whales
  • Seals vs. Sea Lions
  • Crocodiles vs. Alligators
  • Bats vs. Birds
  • Oven vs. Microwave
  • Greek vs. Roman Mythology
  • Chinese vs. Japanese
  • Comedy vs. Drama
  • Renting vs. Owning
  • Mozart vs. Beethoven
  • Online vs. Traditional Education
  • North vs. South Pole
  • Watercolor vs. Oil
  • 1984 vs. Fahrenheit 451
  • Emily Dickinson vs. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • W.E.B. DuBois vs. Booker T. Washington
  • Strawberries vs. Apples
  • Airplanes vs. Helicopters
  • Hitler vs. Napoleon
  • Roman Empire vs. British Empire
  • Paper vs. Plastic
  • Italy vs. Spain
  • Baseball vs. Cricket
  • Jefferson vs. Adams
  • Thoroughbreds vs. Clydesdales
  • Spiders vs. Scorpions
  • Northern Hemisphere vs. Southern Hemisphere
  • Hobbes vs. Locke
  • Friends vs. Family
  • Dried Fruit vs. Fresh
  • Porcelain vs. Glass
  • Modern Dance vs. Ballroom Dancing
  • American Idol vs. The Voice
  • Reality TV vs. Sitcoms
  • Picard vs. Kirk
  • Books vs. Movies
  • Magazines vs. Comic Books
  • Antique vs. New
  • Public vs. Private Transportation
  • Email vs. Letters
  • Facebook vs. Twitter
  • Coffee vs. an Energy Drink
  • Toads vs. Frogs
  • Profit vs. Non-Profit
  • Boys vs. Girls
  • Birds vs. Dinosaurs
  • High School vs. College
  • Chamberlain vs. Churchill
  • Offense vs. Defense
  • Jordan vs. Bryant
  • Harry vs. Draco
  • Roses vs. Carnations
  • Poetry vs. Prose
  • Fiction vs. Nonfiction
  • Lions vs. Tigers
  • Vampires vs. Werewolves
  • Lollipops vs. popsicles
  • Summer vs. Winter
  • Recycling vs. Landfill
  • Motorcycle vs. Bicycle
  • Halogen vs. Incandescent
  • Newton vs. Einstein
  • . Go on vacation vs. Staycation
  • Rock vs. Scissors
  • Write a Compare and Contrast Essay
  • Beef Up Critical Thinking and Writing Skills: Comparison Essays
  • How to Teach the Compare and Contrast Essay
  • Topical Organization Essay
  • Writing About Literature: Ten Sample Topics for Comparison & Contrast Essays
  • Comparing and Contrasting in English
  • 25 Essay Topics for American Government Classes
  • Expository Essay Genre With Suggested Prompts
  • Venn Diagrams to Plan Essays and More
  • Teaching Comparative and Superlative Forms to ESL Students
  • Cause and Effect Essay Topics
  • Comparative and Superlatives for Beginners
  • How to Teach Topic Sentences Using Models
  • Exercise in Using the Comparative and Superlative Forms of Adjectives
  • Climate in the Northern vs Southern Hemispheres
  • Miss Nelson Is Missing Lesson Plan

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Exploring an A+ Language Analysis Essay Comparing Two Articles

April 25, 2019

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Updated 19/01/2021

Ah, language analysis. It’s that time of year again, which sees us trade our novels and films for newspapers and blog articles, and our knowledge of characters and themes for the never-ending list of persuasive language devices which we will soon begin to scour our texts in search of.

Once again we must put ourselves in the mind of an author, only this time it’s a little different. No longer are we searching for hidden meanings within the text, instead we search for techniques and appeals to emotions which our daring author uses to persuade us to stand in solidarity with their view. My, how times change. Just when we think we’re getting the hang of something, VCE English throws us a curveball. Typical VCAA.

There's a lot that goes into a strong Analysing Argument response and it can be difficult to know where to start, so here's a specific breakdown of an A+ essay to help you elevate the quality of your own writing! Just before we get started, if you'd like to find out more about Language Analysis, head here for a comprehensive overview of this area of study.

Alright, let's get into it!

The following post refers to two articles, ‘ Australia’s offshore detention regime is a brutal and obscene piece of self-delusion ,’ by Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, and ‘ Stand in solidarity with people seeking asylum this holiday season, ’ by Kon Karapanagiotidis.

Step 1: Planning Your Essay

Now, before you get too deep into this step - and I know how eager you must be to dive into that juicy analysis – you first need to decide on a structure. In this particular case of Language Analysis, we are comparing two articles, meaning we have a couple of different structures to choose from. That is, we now need to decide whether we will be separating the analysis of each article into its own individual paragraph, or rather, integrating the analysis and drawing on similar ideas from each of the texts to compare them within one paragraph. Tough decisions, eh?

While most examiners prefer integrated paragraphs, as it shows a higher level of understanding of the texts, sometimes the articles make implementing this structure a little difficult. For example, maybe one article focuses more on emotional appeals, while the other uses factual evidence such as statistics to persuade the reader. What do we do then? If none of the arguments are similar, but we still want to use that amazing integration technique, what can we do?

Well first of all, remember that we are comparing two articles. Comparisons don’t always have to be about similar things, in fact, the true spirit of comparison should take into account the articles’ differences too. So what does this mean for us? We can still integrate our paragraphs, however, we will be focusing on how two contrasting techniques seek to achieve the same result of persuading the audience.

Next, now that we’ve got structure out of the way, we can work on the actual analysis part of planning. That is, scouring through the articles for those various language devices the author has used to turn this article from an exposition to a persuasive text, and then deciding on how we shall be using this in our essay.

I absolutely cannot stress this enough, but: PLAN YOUR ESSAYS! Yes, I happened to be one of those students who never planned anything and preferred to jump straight into the introduction, hoping all my thoughts would fall into place along the way. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: that was a notoriously bad idea. My essays always turned out as garbled, barely legible messes and I always managed to talk myself into circles. Trust me, planning is crucial to an A+ essay.

It is also crucial that you know what exactly should be going into the planning process. There are two main aspects of planning that you need to focus on for a Language Analysis essay: analysis and implementation . I know that might not make much sense right now, but allow me to explain:

This includes reading through your articles and picking out all the pieces that seem like persuasive techniques. For example, you might find a paragraph using inclusive language such as "our problem” to convince the reader that this is an issue that they need to be directly concerned about, or perhaps you may find a sentence describing the “excess of funds” being poured into the initiative that demonstrates to the audience how big of a problem it is. This step typically includes underlining areas of interest in the articles, making arrows between similar arguments which you think should be linked and doodling in the margins of the paper with all your immediate thoughts so you don’t forget them later. This part is the lengthiest and it may take you some time to fully understand all of the article.

Next, comes implementation.

Implementation

This is the part where we make ourselves an actual essay plan, in which we decide how to implement all the new information we’ve collected. That is, deciding which arguments or language devices we will analyse in paragraph 1, paragraph 2 and so on. This part is largely up to you and the way in which you prefer to link various ideas.

Below is an example of how you might choose to plan your introduction and body paragraph. It may seem a bit wordy, but this is the recommended thought process you should consider when mapping out your essay, as explained in the following sections of this blog post. You may want to skip ahead and read those first so you know what we’re talking about when you see CCTAP (explained in Step 2: Introduction ) or TEEL (explained in Step 3: Body Paragraphs ), but otherwise it’s pretty straight forward. With enough practice you may even be able to remember some of these elements in your head, rather than writing it out in detail during each SAC or exam (it might be a little time consuming).

Sample Introduction Plan

Note: Sentences in quotation marks ('') represent where the information has been implemented in the actual introduction.

Article 1 (by Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson) :

Context : Detention of Asylum Seekers is currently a popular topic of discussion, 'issue regarding the treatment and management of asylum seekers'.

Contention : Methods must be revaluated, 'better solution must be sought'.

Tone : Accusatory, 'accusatory tone'.

Audience : Regular readers, 'regular readers of the popular news publication site'.

Purpose : Incite critical conversation, 'persuade readers to be similarly critical of the initiative'.

Article 2 (by Kon Karapanagiotidis) :

Context: Detention of Asylum Seekers is currently a popular topic of discussion, 'issue regarding the treatment and management of asylum seekers'.

Contention: Detention of Asylum Seekers is wrong, 'detention as a whole is inhumane'.

Tone: Conviction, 'tone of conviction'.

Audience: Those in favour of Asylum Seekers, 'supporters of his resource centre'.

Purpose: Allow Asylum Seekers into the country, '[barring them from entering the country]…should be ceased immediately'.

Sample Body Paragraph Plan

Topic: Inhumanity of detention

Evidence : Article 1’s Emotive Language

          Example : 'harsh', 'brutal regime', 'needlessly cruel' to invoke discomfort.

Evidence : Article 1’s Expert Opinions

          Example : Amnesty International, UN, etc. 'repeatedly criticised'.

Evidence : Article 1’s Humanisation of Asylum Seekers

          Example : Depicts as individuals who’ve been 'arbitrarily punished'.

Evidence : Article 2’s Invitation to Empathise

          Example : Writes he 'cannot imagine the horrors', inviting readers to try too.

Evidence : Article 2’s Emotive Language

          Example : 'pain', 'suffering', 'deprivation of hope' to invoke sympathy.

Evidence : Article 2’s Placing of Blame

          Example : Blames Australian Government for the 'suffering inflicted'.

Link: Restate topic sentence in relation to entire essay

Step 2: Introduction

Now that you’ve got all the planning out of the way, next comes beginning the essay and writing up your introduction. Having a top notch introduction not only sets the standard for the rest of your language analysis, but it gives you a chance to set yourself apart from the crowd. Your teacher or examiner will be reading heaps of these kinds of essays within a short period of time and no doubt it’ll begin to bore them. Thus, having a punchy introduction is bound to catch their attention.

In addition to having a solid beginning, there are a few other things you need to include in your intro, namely, CCTAP. What does CCTAP stand for and why is it so important, you may ask? Well, the nifty little acronym stands for C ontext, C ontention, T one, A udience and P urpose, which are the five key pieces of information you need to include about both of your articles within your introduction. In addition to all the various language devices we collected during planning, you will need to scan through the articles to find this information in order to give the reader of your essay the brief gist of your articles without ever having read them.  

For an example on how you would accomplish this all in one paragraph, here’s my introduction:

In recent years, the issue regarding the treatment and management of asylum seekers has become a topic of interest for many Australian citizens, with the debate focusing centrally on the ethics of their indefinite detention, and the reliability of this initiative as a working solution. Many articles intending to weigh-in on the debate depict the Australian Government’s favoured solution in various tones, with two pieces, written by news source, The Guardian, by authors Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, and activist Kon Karapanagiotidis, respectively, asserting that the initiative is the wrong approach to a growing problem. In their piece, 'Australia’s offshore detention regime is a brutal and obscene piece of self destruction', the former of the authors speaks with an accusatory tone to their audience of regular readers of the popular news publication site and debates the practicality of the 'arbitra[y]' detention of these asylum seekers, as well as calls into question the humanity of the act and assesses whether it is an effective use of Australia’s wealth, intending to persuade readers to be similarly critical of the initiative. Likewise, the author of the open letter, 'Stand in solidarity with people seeking asylum this holiday season', writes to supporters of his resource centre in a tone of conviction, asserting that asylum seekers deserve the safety of asylum within Australia, that detaining or barring them from entering the country is inhumane and the root of much suffering, and that overall, it is morally wrong, and thus should be ceased immediately. Both articles contend that Australia’s current solution to the growing issue is incorrect, with Doherty and Davidson specifically believing that there is a better solution that must be sought, and Karapanagiotidis believing that detention as a whole is inhumane and should not be further employed by the government. ‍

‍ Step 3: Body Paragraphs ‍

And now we reach the meat of your essay - the body paragraphs. A typical essay should have at least three of these, no less, although some people might feel the need to write four or five. While this may seem like a good idea to earn those extra marks, you should never feel pressured to do so if you already have three good paragraphs planned out. You have limited time to write your essay and getting as many words on the page as possible won’t always improve your score, especially if you traded quality for quantity. What your teachers and examiners are really looking for is a comprehensive understanding of the texts and the way in which you organise your ideas into paragraphs. So sure, writing an extra paragraph may be useful if you have the time and technique, but never feel pressured to expend the effort on one if it costs you time to the point where you’re turning in an unfinished essay. You can achieve an A+ essay with only three paragraphs, so don’t stress.

Now, onto writing the actual paragraphs. There are various little acronyms to help you through this process, such as TEEL, PEEL or MEAT. Some of these you may have already heard of before and you might even have a preference as to which one you will use. But regardless of what you choose, it is important that you add all the correct elements, as leaving any of them out may cost you vital marks. Make sure you include a T opic sentence, E vidence, E xample and L ink (TEEL). Once you have the structure down pat, there’s one other thing you need to consider during a Language Analysis essay: don’t forget to analyse the picture.

Seriously, it’s pretty crucial. A requirement of this kind of essay is to analyse imagery, whether it be the newspaper’s header, a cartoon or an actual photograph. This step may involve analysing the image for what it is, or linking the imagery with an already existing argument within the article. Whatever you deduce it to mean, just make sure you slip it into one of the paragraphs in your essay. [Note: an analysis of imagery is not included in following paragraph].

Here is an example of an integrated paragraph ( learn more about integrated vs. bridge vs. block structures here ):

While both articles make very different arguments on the same topic, in one particular case they give voice to the same issue, namely, the inhumanity of detaining refugees, in which both articles become advocates for the abolition of offshore detention. Authors for The Guardian write that it is 'needlessly cruel', 'harsh', and a 'brutal regime', using emotive language to give weight to their argument and invoke a sense of discomfort within their readers, particularly towards the government’s chosen solution. They call on the opinions of a number of other sources who have 'repeatedly criticised', the operation, such as the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, among other similar experts on the matter. The authors depict Asylum Seekers as individuals who are 'arbitrarily punished offshore', and who 'have been accused of no crime', and are therefore, by the judgement of the authors, being treated immorally. In agreement, Karapanagiotidis writes of the abuse endured by asylum seekers in detention, including their separation from loved ones, their arbitrary incarceration, and stating that he, himself, 'cannot begin to imagine the personal toll detention has had on [them]', implying further damage has been done and inviting his audience to similarly place themselves into the figurative shoes of an asylum seeker. The author writes that the offshore detention of asylum seekers causes 'pain', and 'suffering', as well as the 'depriv[ation] of [their] hope', using emotive language to invoke sympathy and understanding within his readers. Karapanagiotidis hands the blame for such 'suffering inflicted', on the Australian government, a similar tactic which The Guardian employed throughout their piece. Overall, both articles use a range of language devices and expert sources to agree that the act of detention is inhumane, and the root of much suffering. ‍ ‍

If you'd like to see more sample A+ body paragraphs and essays, all with annotations to see exactly what makes them high-scoring, check out our How To Write A Killer Language Analysis ebook for an in-depth guide to nailing your Language Analysis.

Step 4: Conclusion

You’ll be glad to know that this is the final part of your essay, hooray! And some might argue it is in fact the easiest, because now all you need to do is summarise all of those body paragraphs into a concise little one. Simple right?

Conclusions typically don’t even have to be all that long, I mean, you’re only restating what you’ve already written down, so there’s no new thinking involved. Under no circumstances should you be using your conclusion to add in any new information, so just make sure you give a brief description of your previous arguments and you should be good to go!

And one more thing: never start your conclusions with 'In conclusion'. Seriously, that may have worked in Year 8, but we’re writing for a whole different standard these days and starting your conclusions off like that just isn’t going to cut it. Be sure to check out 5 Tips for a Mic-Drop Worthy Essay Conclusion if conclusions are something you struggle with.

Here’s mine:

The two articles, in their discussion of Australia’s offshore detention initiative, bring light to several key points. Authors for The Guardian use various appeals, emotive phrases and evidence of reported monetary statistics to sway the reader to share their opinion, as well as arguments regarding the lack of reliability the initiative provides in its ability to deter boats, the sheer cost of the program, and the morality of the issue. Similarly, Karapanagiotidis, the author of the open letter, uses a humanising image, appeals to the values of the readers, and employs phrases with pre-existing connotations known to the audience, to assert main contentions: that asylum seekers deserve asylum, that barring them from settling in the country is the root of much suffering, and that their indefinite detention is not only inhumane, but morally wrong.  

Good luck with your own essays!

Get our FREE VCE English Text Response mini-guide

Now quite sure how to nail your text response essays? Then download our free mini-guide, where we break down the art of writing the perfect text-response essay into three comprehensive steps. Click below to get your own copy today!

comparing articles essay

Access a FREE sample of our How To Write A Killer Language Analysis study guide

  • Learn LSG's unique SIMPLICITY and SPECIFICITY strategy which has helped hundreds of students achieve A+
  • Includes annotated sample A+ essays (including responses to past VCAA exams)
  • Learn how to analyse single articles and visuals , and comparative analysis (analysing 2 or 3 articles/visuals together)
  • Different types of essay structures broken down so you understand what to do and what not to do with confidence

comparing articles essay

For many VCE Students, Language Analysis is most commonly their ‘weakest’ section out of all three parts of VCE English. Throughout my years of tutoring, when I’ve asked these students  why  they struggle, they usually blame the difficulty in grasping the  most  important component of Language Analysis:

Understanding  how   the author  intends  to persuade their readers.  

You’ll see that I have italicised the words, ‘how’ and ‘intends’ in the above statement to highlight where your focus needs to be. If you’re currently trying to get your head around Language Analysis, or if you don’t understand where you’re going wrong, don’t worry. We’re going to look at the incorrect assumptions students make about Language Analysis, how to avoid it and also what you  should  do instead! So first, let’s have a look at a couple of common student errors. Students (including yourself perhaps) may believe that:

1. Language Analysis is about  finding  language techniques that persuade readers.

Stop right there! This certainly isn’t a treasure hunt ( but that would be pretty awesome right? ). If an essay was just about identifying language techniques, everyone would get an A+ ( we wish! ). Once you’ve had some practice under your belt, you’ll notice that anyone can find rhetorical questions, inclusive language and statistics, so there is a lot more to it than simply pointing out language techniques. Also, steer clear from throwing in all the possible language techniques you’ve found in an article too, because it’s not a competition about who can find the most techniques and even if you did, it doesn’t guarantee you an amazing score on your essay.

2. Language analysis is about  if  authors successfully persuade their readers.

Sorry to tell you, but this definitely isn’t it either. Our job as the student isn’t to figure out whether or not the author successfully persuades their reader. You can’t really speak for all the people reading an article if they do or do not agree with the author’s contention. Just like if you see an advertisement on television for MacDonalds, you can’t tell if the next person who watches the ad will be persuaded to go out and buy a Big Mac meal. That’s why at the end of the day, it’s not up to you to figure out the extent to which the author persuades their readers. So in that case, what should you be doing instead?

The ultimate goal is to demonstrate your understanding of how the author attempts to persuade the reader to agree with his or her contention.

Let’s break up the essential parts of analysing language so we can pinpoint exactly the part that is most problematic and also how we can finally get a strong grasp of how to be successful in this area:

The  TEE  rule

—Technique  – what  persuasive technique  is used?

—Example  – which  text  that shows it?

—Effect  – what is the  intended impact  on readers’ attitudes?

1. Technique 

There are so many persuasive techniques around, once you’ve got your hands on a bunch of language technique lists then you’re pretty much set in this area. Be wary however, as I have mentioned in the past (and above)  how simply ‘labelling’ language techniques is not enough for you to do well in language analysis.

This is quite frankly, the easiest part of Language Analysis! All you need to do is quote your evidence! Straightforward? If quoting is not your forte, you can check out:  how to embed quotes in your essay like a boss

3.  Effect 

Ok, this is the core of most students’ issues. We already know that the author is trying to persuade readers but here, we’re going to look how their choice of words or phrases creates a certain  effect  on readers so that they will be encouraged to agree with the author. When thinking about the effect, the best way is to put yourself in the reader’s shoes – you are after all, a reader! So in order to understand the effect think about the following three points:

  • What readers may feel – emotions
  • What readers may think – thoughts
  • And what readers may want – wishes

Example 1: “You are my smartest friend, I’m really stuck on this question and I need help!”

—Think about it realistically. If someone said this to you, how would you feel? There must’ve been a time where you were complimented (whether it be about your clothes, how you did something well, or how friendly you are with others), and you used this experience to your advantage. Each time you analyse a language technique, contemplate on what emotions, thoughts or wishes emerge as a result. When someone gives you a compliment, you probably feel flattered, or maybe even proud. And this is exactly what you need to include in your analysis! You should garner these everyday experiences as a trigger to help you understand how readers may respond to a certain technique. So if we broke it down via the TEE formula:

T echnique: Compliment

—E xample: “You are my smartest friend, I’m really stuck on this question and I need help!”

— E ffect: You feel feel proud and as a result want to assist your friend.

And let’s put it all together coherently and concisely:

Analysis: The compliment, “You are my smartest friend, I’m really stuck on this question and I need help!” encourages the listener to feel a sense of pride and this in turn, may encourage them to assist their friend.

Example 2: “The pet puppy was stuck inside a car on a 32 degree summer day, with no windows left open, and no room for fresh air.”

Again, think about the three points – how do you feel? What do you think of this scenario? What do you want as a result? You probably feel sorry for the puppy and want to save it from this situation.

—T echnique: Appeal to sympathy

—E xample: “The pet puppy was stuck inside a car on a 32 degree summer day, with no windows left open, and no room for fresh air.”

— E ffect: You may feel that it is unfair for the puppy to be in such a horrendous and potentially life-threatening situation.

Analysis: Through the appeal to sympathy, “the pet puppy was stuck inside a car on a 32 degree summer day, with no windows left open, and no room for fresh air”, readers may believe that it is unfair for the puppy to be subjected to such a horrendous and potentially life-threatening situation and thus, may be persuaded to take action to prevent further harm to pets.

Ultimately, focus on the potential effect language can have on the reader and as a result, how this may encourage the reader to agree with the author. If you do that, then you’re definitely on the right track. If this study guide has helped you gain further insight into Language Analysis, then you may be interested in my upcoming workshop where I spend a few hours offering advanced advice on Language Analysis! No matter what scores you have been attaining in Language Analysis, whether high or low, my workshop is loaded with tips which will undoubtedly help you achieve the best you possibly can. You are welcome to register here:  VCE English Intensive Spring Break Workshop . Join the Facebook event  here  today to keep updated on all the latest information in the lead up to the workshop and invite your friends!

Let’s briefly discuss the background of the article before we dive into the analysis…

  • So, the background information tells us that “Biodiversity is the term used to describe life on Earth — the variety of living things, the places they inhibit and the interactions between them.”
  • The article at hand is a transcript of a speech given by Professor Chris Lee at the International Biodiversity Conference 2010.
  • The purpose of this conference is to review the progress made towards achieving the target and to look beyond 2010.

comparing articles essay

Now, let’s analyse the opening of the speech. Take a second to read through Lee’s speech opener...

comparing articles essay

Firstly, we can analyse the way in which Lee addresses his audience. Rather than using a phrase like "Hi everyone" or a similar greeting, he actually refers to his audience as his "fellow delegates" which allows him to speak in a particularly candid and honest manner. He wants to be transparent about the reality of the situation with his peers, rather than trying to impress an audience or something similar.

comparing articles essay

Overall, this anecdote appeals to the emotions of the audience and plays on an apparent devotion/commitment presumably made to the environment by the delegates of a Biodiversity conference. Lee uniquely seeks to persuade his audience by using the information he knows about them – their past commitments.
More specifically, we can dive into the pejorative mood of the adjectives he uses to describe the second scene, which is one of destruction, especially compare to the images he presents first. The "lush jungle" with a variety of "interesting flora and fauna" on the banks of a "clear river" appears particularly idyllic in juxtaposition with the images of the "scorched earth", "gooey mudslide", "sepia tinge" and "barren sticks hopelessly groping for life."
In the last sentence, the repetition of the word "gone" reminds Lee's "fellow delegates" of what will be lost if action on biodiversity is not taken.

Now, we know that in any given Language Analysis article, there are so many things to analyse, which I’ve demonstrated with all of the things we managed to focus on in that single paragraph.

Often, students will be able to identify lots of techniques and as such, lots of elements to analyse, but they struggle to choose between these techniques when it comes to writing their responses.

I’d highly recommend that you download a free sample of my eBook, How To Write A Killer Language Analysis which talks about techniques you can use to pick what to write about in your essays. We won’t have enough time to talk about those techniques today, so we’ve written them down for you in the eBook.

Now that we’ve looked at how Lee has started his speech, let’s skip forward to a later section of the article. Take a second to read through the section.

comparing articles essay

One of the first things that may jump out at you is this repetition of inclusive language; "we are", "we have". However, this is way too obvious! For an upper level response, we want to steer clear of the cliche techniques and analyse ones that have more value and show off our own perspective of the article.
Utilising the statements, "everyone in the lecture theatre knows this" and "clearly, it is our lack of unity", Lee includes the audience and holds all of the delegates accountable through declaring the reasons for failure as simple matters of fact.
Here, Lee trivializes the actions of the organisation in creating "glossy brochures" with "wonderful words" as marketing tools to create the impression that meaningful action is being taken. Lee exposes such actions as deceitful and calls for "real action", seeking to persuade his audience into putting their effort into actual gains in the biodiversity fight.

Want to know more? I'd highly recommend checking out LSG's FREE Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis for more great tips, resources and advice.

And that’s it! I hope this has been helpful in showing how to analyse a speech as a Language Analysis prompt.

Be sure to check out the free sample of my eBook below for more!

Hey everyone! This is Part 2 in a series of videos I will release on VCE Study Guides. The content goes through the sample VCAA Chickens Range Free article which you can find  here . Feel free to analyse it yourself, then check out how I’ve analysed the article!

I’m super excited to share with you my  first  ever online tutorial course for VCE English/EAL students on  How to achieve A+ for Language Analysis !!!

I created this course for a few reasons:

Language Analysis is often the  key weakness  for VCE English/EAL students, after my workshops, students always wish we had spent  even   more  time on Language Analysis, many of you have come to me seeking private tuition however since I am fully booked out, I wanted to still offer you a chance to gain access to my ‘breakthrough’ method of tutoring Language Analysis,I am absolutely confident in my  unique  and  straightforward  way of teaching Language Analysis which has lead to my students securing exceptional A graded SAC and exam scores!

Are you a student who:

struggles to identify language techniques?

finds it difficult to identify which tones are adopted in articles?

has no idea explaining  HOW  the author persuades?

finds it difficult to structure your language analysis essay?

becomes even more unsure when comparing 2 or 3 articles?

feels like your teacher at school never explained language analysis properly?

prefers learning when it’s enjoyable and easy to understand?

wants to stand out from other students across the cohort?

wants to know the secrets of 45+ English high achievers?

wants to know what examiners are looking for?

sees room for improvement whether you’re an average student or a pro?

wants to get a head start and maximise your potential in VCE?

This is what you will accomplish by the end of the course:

Be able to successfully identify language techniques in articles and images

Be able to successfully identify tones adopted in articles and images

Be able to analyse a single article or image

Be able to analyse 2 or more articles and/or images

Be able to apply your new skills coherently and clearly in essay writing

You will be able to accurately describe HOW an author uses language to persuade

You will be able to plan and write a language analysis essay structure (single article/image)

You will be able to plan and write a language analysis essay structure (2 or more articles/images)

You will understand common pitfalls and how to avoid these in language analysis

Be confident when approaching your SACs and exam

Know exactly what examiners are looking for and how to ‘WOW’ them

Know how to distinguish yourself from other students

Have unlimited help in course forum from myself and other VCE students

You will become a better VCE English language analysis student!

To find out more, you can check out the full details of the course   here !

See you in the course!

Wondering what VCAA examiners might be looking for in a high-scoring essay? Each year, the VCE EAL Examination Reports shed light on some of the features that examiners are looking for in  high-scoring responses for the Listening and Language Analysis sections of the EAL exams. Let's go through 5 key points from the reports so that you know how to achieve a 10/10 yourself.

For advice on how you can apply the VCE EAL Examination Reports to strengthen your skills in the listening section, see Tips on EAL Listening .

Tip #1 Analyse How the Overall Argument Was Structured 

Let’s take the 2017 VCAA EAL Examination Report as an example: 

‘The highest-scoring responses analysed argument use and language in an integrated way. Some responses used a comparative approach that analysed arguments and counter arguments from both texts in the same paragraph. However, only comparatively few responses focused on how the overall argument was structured .’

So how do we write about/analyse ‘how the overall argument was structured’? 

To save time during the exam, we can adopt templates that can help us transfer our thoughts into words in a fast and efficient way.  You can construct your own templates, and you may want to have various templates for various scenarios or essays. Below, I have provided a sample template and I’ll show you how you can use this template in your own essays.

Sample Template

(AUTHOR)’s manner of argument is proposed in real earnest in an attempt to convince the readers of the validity of his/her proposal of...by first…and then supplying solutions to...(DIFFICULTIES), thus structuring it in a logical and systematic way.

The above template ONLY applies to opinion pieces that satisfy these 2 rules:

  • The opinion piece commences by presenting the ‘bad effect/consequence/situation’ of the topic 
  • The opinion piece supplies the solution to resolve the ‘bad effect/consequence/situation’ of the topic 

For example, say the author, John White, contends that plastic bags should be banned and does so by:

  • commencing the piece with the fact that plastic bags can travel long distances by wind and water. They litter our landscapes, float around in waterways, and can eventually end up in the oceans, ultimately polluting the ocean and posing a threat to marine animals
  • then supplies solution to ban plastic bags 

When we use our template here, the intro may look like this - note that I’ve bolded the ‘template’ parts so you can clearly see how the template has been used:

John White’s manner of argument, proposed in real earnest in an effect to convince the readers of the validity of his proposal of banning plastic bags by first exposing the deleterious nature of these bags to our environment and natural habitat and then supplying solutions to ban plastic bags, putting it in effect in a logical and systematic way.

Head to Introductions for EAL Language Analysis for more templates and guidance on how to nail your Language Analysis Introduction. 

Tip #2 Keep the Listening Answer Succinct 

The 2019 VCAA EAL Examination Report states: 

‘Students are encouraged to use the key words in the questions as a focus for their listening...Short-answer questions require concise and precise answers. Responses that demonstrated understanding provided what was asked for without including extraneous information .’

Some students tend to add unnecessary information in their answers. Although the answers are correct, they will NOT earn you any extra marks. Listening answers should NOT be a mini essay. Writing irrelevant information will not only waste time but may also compromise the accuracy and overall expression of your response. 

Tip #3 Practice Makes Perfect

The examination reports frequently point out that students struggle with identifying and describing the tone and delivery. For example, the 2017 VCAA EAL Examination Report states:

‘Identifying tone and delivery is challenging for students and emphasis on this is needed...Students are encouraged to use the key words in the questions as a focus for their listening’. 

The good news is, just like most skills, listening and identifying the tone can both be improved with practice. In fact, VCAA acknowledges the importance of daily practice as well. 

‘Students need to develop their critical listening skills both in and outside of the classroom. They are encouraged to listen, in English, to anything that interests them – current affairs, news, documentaries and podcasts can all be useful.’ (2017 VCAA EAL Examination Report)

Practicing listening does not necessarily mean sitting down and doing Section A questions; it can be as simple as talking with classmates, teachers, neighbours, friends from work, church, etc. 

Take a look at our EAL Listening Practice and Resources for a comprehensive list of external resources for practicing listening and a step-by-step guide on how to use them!

Tip #4 How To Formulate a Cohesive Response?

VCAA encourages us to write answers that make sense to the reader and are grammatically correct. Make sure you do address, and ONLY address, what the question is asking, because marks will not be rewarded for redundant information. 

‘Short answer questions require concise and precise answers. Responses that demonstrated understanding provided what was asked for without including extraneous information . Expression skills need to be sufficiently controlled to convey meaning accurately. ’ ( 2017-2019 VCAA EAL Examination Report )

HINT: This may sound super simple, but a lot of EAL students struggle with it. If you do, you are definitely not alone. Some students seek to use complicated words and/or sentence structures, but we should not compromise clarity over complexity.  

Tip #5 Use a Range of Precise Vocabulary 

VCAA acknowledges the importance of sophisticated vocabulary. This phrase ‘a nalysis expressed with a range of precise vocabulary’ has been repeatedly used to describe high-scoring essays in the examination reports from 2017 onwards

Below is a list of commonly misspelled, misused and mispronounced words. If you don’t know the meaning of a word, check out Collins Online Dictionary for definitions OR you can use a physical copy of the Collins Dictionary (which you are allowed to bring into the exam and SACs).

Words That Look the Same/Have Super Similar Spelling:

  • Abroad vs. Aboard
  • Adapt vs. Adopt vs. Adept
  • Affect vs. Effect
  • Altar vs. Alter
  • Angel vs. Angle
  • Assent vs. Ascent vs. Accent
  • Aural vs. Oral
  • Baron vs. Barren
  • Beam vs. Bean
  • Champion vs. Champagne vs. Campaign
  • Chef vs. Chief
  • Chore vs. Chord
  • Cite vs. Site
  • Compliment vs. Complement
  • Confirm vs. Conform
  • Contact vs. Contrast vs. Contract
  • Contend vs. Content
  • Context vs. Content
  • Costume vs. Custom
  • Counsel vs. Council vs. Consul
  • Crow vs. Cow vs. Crown vs. Clown
  • Dairy vs. Diary
  • Decent vs. Descent vs. Descend
  • Dessert vs. Desert
  • Dose vs. Doze
  • Drawn vs. Draw vs. Drown
  • Extensive vs. Intensive
  • Implicit vs. Explicit
  • In accord with vs. In accordance with
  • Later vs. Latter
  • Pray vs. Prey
  • Precede vs. Proceed
  • Principal vs. Principle
  • Sweet vs. Sweat
  • Quite vs. Quiet

For an overview of the EAL study design plus tips and tricks for reading comprehension, time management and more, check out The Ultimate Guide to EAL .

Hey everyone!

Language Analysis is often the  key weakness  for VCE English/EAL students,after my  intensive workshops , students always wish we had spent  even   more  time on Language Analysis,many of you have come to me seeking private tuition however since I am fully booked out, I wanted to still offer you a chance to gain access to my ‘breakthrough’ method of tutoring Language Analysis,I am absolutely confident in my  unique  and  straightforward  way of teaching Language Analysis which has lead to my students securing exceptional A graded SAC and exam scores!

Have a go at analysing it yourself first, then see how I've interpreted the article below! For a detailed guide on Language Analysis including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis .

Information

Author:  Professor Chris Lee

Type of article:  Speech

Publisher:  None

Date of publication:  25 – 27th October, 2010

Contention:  We, as humans must consider our impact on biodiversity and take action to change our lifestyles before we damage the world beyond repair.

Number of article(s):  1

Number of image(s):  2

Source:  VCAA website

Note: Persuasive techniques can be interpreted in many ways. The examples given below are not the single correct answer. Only a selected number of persuasive techniques have been identified in this guide.

Taking Stock Analysis

Persuasive technique:  Reputable Source

Example:  ‘United Nations stated: “It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity in our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity”.’

Analysis:   The use of a reputable source indicates that 1) the author has done his research and is therefore credible, 2) his opinion is supported by an expert group, thus strengthening his reasoning and opinion in regards to biodiversity.

Persuasive technique:  Rhetorical questions

Example:  ‘Has this been a year of celebration of life on earth? Has this, in fact, been a year of action?’

Analysis:  The use of rhetorical questions aims to portray to listeners that the answer is obvious, that humans have not done enough to help biodiversity. As a result, listeners are manipulated into agreeing with the author since if they were to refute the answer; it will appear as though they are nonsensical.

Persuasive technique:  Personal approach

Example:  ‘It is with great pleasure – though not without a tinge of sadness’

Analysis:  By introducing himself with ‘it is with great pleasure’, listeners are invited to reciprocate the feeling of welcome for Lee and hence be open to his opinion. His subsequent, ‘though not without a tinge of sadness’ suggests to listeners that he is disappointed with the current state of biodiversity, which may persuade listeners to feel as though they should help fix the situation.

Persuasive technique:  Statistics

Example:  ‘35% of mangroves, 40% of forests and 50% of wetlands.’

Analysis:  The incorporation of the apparently reliable and credible statistics testifies for Lee’s opinion and thus may persuade listeners to believe that it is indeed, ‘too late for [species]’.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to sense of guilt

Example:  ‘Due to our own thoughtless human actions, species are being lost at a rate that is estimated to be up to 100 times the natural rate of extinction.’

Analysis:  Since the destruction of biodiversity is ‘due to our own thoughtless human actions’, Lee aims to incite a sense of guilt as listeners appear to be selfish, which may urge them to agree that they need to cease being inconsiderate and do more to improve biodiversity.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to humanity

Example:  ‘Reversing this negative trend is not only possible, but essential to human wellbeing.’

Analysis:  The appeal to humanity, ‘essential to human wellbeing’ encourages listeners to support Lee since it is our instinctive for humans to nurture ourselves and others.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to sense of pride

Example:  ‘We are, in truth, the most educated generation of any to date. We have no excuse for inaction.’

Analysis:  Through the appeal to a sense of pride, Lee aims to coax listeners into believing that they have ‘no excuse for inaction’ since only those who are ‘intelligent’ would understand and agree with his stance.

Persuasive technique:  Attack on the listener

Example:  ‘YOUR country – actually done since 2002 to contribute to the achievement of our goals?’

Analysis:  The attack aims to leave listeners in a state of vulnerability since it is clear that many have failed to ‘achieve…[the] goals’. Once in this state, listeners may be more inclined to accept Lee’s stance.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal for sympathy

Example:  ‘Biodiversity loss undermines the food security, nutrition and health of the rural poor and even increases their vulnerability. ‘

Analysis:   Though the reference to ‘the rural poor,’ Lee aims to appeal to listeners’ sympathy and may invite support since it is instinctive to wish for the best for humanity, rather than to see the poor experience a lack of ‘food security, nutrition and health.’

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to pride

Example:  ‘As leaders in the area of biodiversity’

Analysis:   The appeal to pride through positioning listeners as ‘leaders’ invites support since it is innate for humans to wish to be thought of as a person who is respected and powerful.

Persuasive technique:  Inclusive Language

Example:  ‘we know what damage our lifestyle is doing to our world’

Analysis:  The use of inclusive language aims to involve listeners with the issue, thus encouraging support since listeners may feel responsible for the future outcome of biodiversity.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to sense of urgency

Example:  ‘The time for talk is over: now, truly, is the time for serious action.

Analysis:  By appealing to a sense of urgency, Lee aims to urge listeners to take responsibility since it appears as though the damage to biodiversity will be too late if we fail to take ‘serious action…now.’

Persuasive technique:  A sense of responsibility

Example:  2010 with outlines of nature

Analysis:  The incorporation of a background of ‘2010’ with outlines of animals, plants and humans aims to demonstrate to listeners that earth is shared by all species, with none dominating another in an attempt to gain listeners’ sense of responsibility since they are part of the biodiversity issue, yet can also be the solution to the problem.

Persuasive technique:  Pun

Example:  ‘Taking Stock’

Analysis:  The first meaning used for the pun suggests to listeners that they need to ‘take stock’ or in other words, scrutinise the dire situation of biodiversity in call for much needed attention to the issue. Through referring to the second meaning of ‘stock’ as animals, Lee intends to appeal to a sense of guilt since he projects the idea that humans are cruelly annihilating the environment by ‘taking’ whatever ‘stock’ for their own self-centered purposes.

Persuasive technique:  Appeal to responsibility

Example:  ‘earth is in our hands’

Analysis:  By placing the ‘earth…in our hands,’ Lee aims to urge a sense of responsibility on behalf of the listeners which in turn, may cause them to agree with the notion to take ‘serious action’ in the name of biodiversity.

Persuasive technique:  Use of reputable source

Example:  ‘Biodiversity is the greatest treasure we have . . . Its diminishment is to be prevented at all costs. Thomas Eisner’

Analysis:  The reference to ecologist, Thomas Eisner attempts to persuade listeners to support Lee since experts in the field of biodiversity recommend that the earth needs to be cherished.

1. List of Listening Resources That You Can Access For Free 2. How To Use These Free Resources (a Step-by-Step Guide) 3. Let Me Walk You Through How I approach These Listening Exercises 4. Time to Test Your Listening Skills

The listening tasks of the EAL exam are worth 20% of the total exam marks.  Since this section was introduced to the exam fairly recently, limited past exam questions are available for students to practice. In this blog, you will find a comprehensive list of external resources that are accessible for free. Although they are not designed specifically for the purpose of VCAA exams, they can still boost your marks if used wisely. I will offer some advice that helped me receive a perfect study score in EAL and give you a step-by-step guide on how to use these listening resources to better prepare for EAL listening.

1. List of Listening Resources That You Can Access For Free:

ABC Radio National

  • ‍ The art of 'adulting' - Mornings - ABC Radio
  • ‍ Our future shaped and changed by Covid 19 - Big Ideas - ABC Radio National
  • ‍ The New Laws of Robotics and what they might mean for AI - Future Tense - ABC Radio National
  • ‍ Urban pandemic – isolation and inequality - Future Tense - ABC Radio National
  • ‍ Will this new vaccine be a game changer? - 7.30 (abc.net.au)
  • ‍ Borders starting to open up across the country - 7.30 (abc.net.au) ‍

Randall’s Listening Lab

  • ‍ General Listening Quizzes
  • ‍ Summer Camp | Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab (esl-lab.com)
  • ‍ Check out this inspiration speech from Lisa Tran, our founder of Lisa’s Study Guide
  • ‍ Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | Tim Urban - YouTube
  • ‍ Intermediate English Listening - Nelson Mandela (esolcourses.com)
  • ‍ Online English - Martin Luther King Jr Video Listening Quiz (esolcourses.com)

ABC 5 minutes more (this is super fun and easy one to listen to, perfect for times when we feel a bit lazy)

  • ‍ Umbrellas Up! Umbrellas Down! : ABC iview
  • ‍ The Friendly Caterpillar : ABC iview

BBC The Newsroom

  • ‍ How to Vaccinate the World - Episode 3 - BBC Sounds
  • ‍ Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address - YouTube
  • ‍ Bill Gates Harvard Commencement Address 2007 - YouTube
  • ‍ In case you missed my Tulane speech, watch it here! - YouTube
  • ‍ Natalie Portman Harvard Commencement Speech | Harvard Commencement 2015 - YouTube

And for my fellow Chinese friends, I recommend 可可英语 . It pretty much includes all major news sources worldwide including the Voice of America, CNN, ABC, National Public Radio, NBC News, BBC, The Economist and National Geography. I particularly love the fact that both the website and its free app offer English transcription and Chinese translation side by side.

2. How To Use These Free Resources (a Step-by-Step Guide)

I recommend you listen to the audio three times. Below, I have broken down what you should pay attention to during each listening exercise.

1st Time Listening

Step 1: read and annotate background information  .

  • Read the background information if available. This mimics the ‘Background Information’ given at the very start of each question in the VCAA exam. In most cases, it provides a general introduction to the speakers and gives you a brief idea of what to expect in the upcoming audio. 
  • Highlight the name of the speakers.
  • Underline important information.

Step 2:  Read and Annotate the Questions

  • Familiarise yourself with the questions during reading time and annotate them. 
  • Develop an annotation system that works well for you personally.

1. I usually underline key information that gives me information on  ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ (refer to the table in Step 4 below for definitions for these ‘W’ words).

2. Highlight the main person/subject that the question is referring to. This will help you during note taking and formulating your answer. Under the stress of exams, we might lose track of which speaker is talking, especially when the two speakers sound similar. By highlighting the name of the speaker in the question, it reminds us which speaker to pay attention to when answering the question.

comparing articles essay

  • If you are playing the audio clips by yourself for practice, make sure you give yourself time to analyse the questions before hitting play! If you have a friend or family member who can act as your ‘exam facilitator’, as soon as reading time ends, highlight or underline the keywords before your exam facilitator plays the audio clips! 

Step 3:  Listen to the Audio Only (Without the Visual)

This is pretty self-explanatory!

Step 4: Write Down Side Notes

  • Write down as much information as you can to practice speed writing
  • Some ‘W’ words (see table below) may not apply to all audio clips so free feel to only use the ‘W’ words that are relevant

comparing articles essay

2nd Time Listening 

Step 1: Fill in the blanks and try to be aware of words you don’t quite ‘get’.

Step 2: Note down how the speakers convey their attitude, feeling, ideas, etc.

Step 3: Interaction between speakers. 

There will typically be a question that asks you to describe the interaction between the speakers, such as , ‘Suggest 2 words to describe the interaction between A and B’. The answer you need to provide will typically be a two-word answer. I would encourage you to learn the adjectives used to describe a range of interactions, for example: 

Words to describe positive interactions include:

  • Friendly, respectful
  • Professional, formal, polite
  • Relaxed, warm
  • Amicable, sanguine

Words to describe negative interactions include:

  • Embarrassed
  • Teasing, childish
  • Tense, unpleasant, disappointed
  • Confrontational

3rd Time Listening  

Listen to the audio while you read the transcript if available.

3. Let Me Walk You Through How I approach These Listening Exercises

Now that you know the steps, let’s see them in action. Below, I will demonstrate the step-by-step process of how you can make full use of the listening resources above.  

We’ll use this video clip from ABC Life Matters as an example: Is the internet becoming more 'ethical'?

Download this worksheet so that you can work through this listening task on your own too!

Step 1: Read and Annotate Background Information

comparing articles essay

Step 3: Listen to the Audio (Without the Visual)

Step 4 : write down side notes.

For practice, I recommend taking notes in a table format, using the ‘W’ words I mentioned above. We are going to designate a separate table for each speaker in the audio.

comparing articles essay

2nd Time Listening   

This is where you have the opportunity to fill in the blanks for the challenging words that you did not pick up in the first round. For example: Ubiquitous, monopolists, admirable, immersed, sophisticated and algorithm 

comparing articles essay

I will use ‘friendly’ and ‘polite’ to describe the interaction between the interviewer and Jocelyn Brewer. As you listen, see if you can identify why I have chosen these two words to describe the interaction. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer here as long as your choice of descriptive words suit the audio clip.

3rd Time Listening   

Usually I would read the transcript in this third and final step, however, since there is no transcript available for this piece, I will skip this step.

4. Time to Test Your Listening Skills

Using the same audio clip and worksheet , have a go at these VCAA-style questions that I wrote up, and then check out my sample answers to see how your own answers compare. You will probably notice that a lot of the information you gather from the  ‘W’ words actually provides you with the answers to the majority of the questions here.

Sample Questions:

  • What are the problems with internet use today? (2 marks)
  • What is it that can draw people in and what example does Brewer use in relation to this? (2 marks)
  • What is Beverley Wang’s opinion on some apps showing many ‘likes’? Support your answer with an example of word choice and language. (3 marks)
  • What are the costs people have to pay, as Brewer suggests, for the use of Internet? (2 marks)
  • What does Ecosia try to recognise? (2 marks)
  • Give the word that the company officer of Ecosia uses to describe Google’s dominant power over the search engine. (1 mark)
  • What are the two adjectives Beverely Wang uses to praise Ecosia? (2 marks)
  • What are the challenges faced by companies like Ecosia, according to Brewer? (2 marks)

Sample Answers: 

  • The problems of internet use lie in its prevalence in society and how powerful the technology is. The apps are designed to mimic the best psychological behaviours and maintain our interest. 
  • Users are drawn in by a range of psychological hacks employed by the app designers. For example, Facebook has adjusted the size of the font to keep us engaged and immersed. 
  • Beverley Wang expresses her opinions that some apps can foster addictive behaviours and can be scary by using a frustrated and alarmed tone. Additionally, by repeating the term ‘consuming’ four times in a row, delivered in a fast pace, Wang affirms the unethical and addictive nature of the apps.
  • Brewer suggests people have to pay with time and attention.
  • Firstly, Ecosia aims to be an ethically-orientated company by planting one tree for every 45 web searches. Secondly, it promises to be a ‘privacy-friendly’ platform and endeavours to expose the shameful motives of some search engines such as Google. 
  • ‘monopolists’
  • ‘noble’ and ‘admirable’
  • Since using Ecosia requires ‘people-poser’, the public need to be more aware of the benefits of switching from an ‘automatically-preferred’ search engine to Ecosia. Ecosia receives ‘56 enquiries every minute’ compared to ‘40 thousand’ enquiries on their competitor’s web engine. 

For further tips and tricks on tackling the EAL Listening Exam, check out How To ACE the EAL Listening Exam . For more advice and samples about listening practice, see EAL Listening Practice , Tips on EAL Listening and How To Take Speedy Notes During Listening Component of VCE EAL Exam .

Are you an EAL student worrying about the listening component of the new study design?

Are you worried? If you are, fear not, I am here to help!

Here are some extremely useful tips that I have acquired from completing both Japanese and Chinese listening exams. They are very applicable to the EAL exam and will hopefully make you feel more confident about this new component!

  • As EAL students we are allowed to bring bilingual dictionaries into the exam, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT! You will be amazed at how useful your dictionary can be.
  • Use your reading time efficiently! Take a close look at your listening tracks’ questions! Search your dictionary for tricky vocabularies that are embedded in the question. Make each second count!
  • Look out for the key question words! If you spot “when” and “why” in the question, then you know for sure that you need to listen out for location and time!
  • Pay attention to the tone.
  • Take note of any adjectives, phrases and words that express the character’s (in the listening track) thoughts, feelings and concerns.
  • There is a space in the exam paper for you to take notes, USE THAT SPACE! Write down all the key information you can possibility hear from the track! According to the examiner’s report those students who wrote notes in the space provided tend to score much more higher than those who don't.
  • Don't waste time wondering what the track just played! Listen carefully for the next sentence, missing out on one piece of information is better than two!

Misconception

Some of you out there might be thinking “Listening is easy! I just need to write down the correct answer, it's a piece of cake.” Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for EAL listening or any VCE Language listening SAC or exam. The VCAA examiners will look at the accuracy of your answer, grammar and spelling. They even look at how well you phrase your response!

If you are aiming for a perfect listening response you MUST take a look at my breakdown of the examiners’ marking criteria!

Marking Criteria

For the listening component of the exam/SAC the examiners (and your own teachers) will be marking your answers base on TWO main points

  • Your ability to understand and convey general and specific parts of the listening track
  • Your ability to convey information accurately and appropriately
  • Appropriateness of vocabulary
  • Accurate use of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Are you feeling more confident for the VCE EAL Listening section with a couple of handy hints in your pocket? I hope you are! Give it a go, it is not as scary as you think!

Last updated 20/10/19

Planning is an essential part of any successful text response essay. It helps you ensure that you’re answering the prompt, utilising enough quotes and writing the most unique and perceptive analysis possible! The hard part of this is that you only have about FIVE MINUTES to plan each essay in the Year 12 English exam… (more info on the best way to tackle that challenge in this video !)

So, I developed the FIVE TYPES of essay prompts to help students streamline their planning process and maximise every minute of their SACs and exams.

By identifying the type of prompt you’re being challenged with immediately, a number of parameters or guidelines are already set in place. For a specific type of prompt, you have specific criteria to meet – for example, in a metalanguage-based prompt , you immediately know that any evidence you brainstorm in your planning stage should be based around the literary techniques used in your given text.

If you’d like the full picture on our best FREE advice on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response here .

1. Theme-based prompt

‘Ambition in the play Macbeth leads to success.’ Discuss. ( Macbeth )

When you’re presented with a theme-based prompt, you can automatically shift your brainstorming and planning towards the themes mentioned in the prompt along with any others that you can link to the core theme in some way.

In regard to this Macbeth prompt, for example, you could explore the different ways the theme of ambition is presented in the text. Additionally, the themes of guilt and power are intimately related to ambition in the text, so you can use those other ideas to aid your brainstorming and get you a step ahead of the rest of the state come exam day.

2. Character-based prompt

‘Frankenstein’s hubris is what punishes him.’ Discuss. ( Frankenstein )

These prompts are pretty easy to spot – if you see a character’s name in the prompt, there you have it; you have a character-based prompt on your hands.

Once you know this, you can assume that each example you brainstorm has to be relevant to the specific character named in the prompt in some way. Also, you can explore how the actions of characters don’t occur in isolation – they’re almost always interrelated. Remember, however, that the actions of characters are always connected to the themes and ideas the author is trying to convey.

This type of prompt also grants you some freedoms that other types don’t give. For example, unlike a Theme-based prompt, a character-based prompt means that it’s perfectly fine to write about characters in the topic sentences of your body paragraphs.

3. How-based prompt

‘How does Grenville showcase Rooke’s inner conflict in The Lieutenant ?’ ( The Lieutenant )

Unlike other prompts, the ‘How’ positions you to focus more on the author’s writing intentions. This can be achieved by discussing metalanguage – language that describes language (read my blog post about it here ). These prompts tell you immediately that you need to be thinking about the literary techniques explored in the text and explain how they affect the narrative.

Rather than using specific techniques to frame your specific arguments, it’s best to use them as evidence to support arguments that attack the main themes/ideas mentioned in the prompt.

4. Metalanguage or film-technique-based prompt

‘Hitchcock’s use of film techniques offers an unnerving viewing experience’. Discuss. ( Rear Window )

This type of prompt is very similar to How-based prompts, specifically in the fact that the discussion of literary techniques is essential.

For this type of prompt specifically, however, the actual techniques used can form more of a basis for your arguments, unlike in How-based prompts .

5. Quote-based prompt

“Out, damned spot!” How does Shakespeare explore the burden of a guilty conscience in Macbeth ? ( Macbeth )

Countless students ask me every year, “What do I do when there’s a quote in the prompt?!” My reply to these questions is actually fairly straightforward!

There are two main things that you should do when presented with this type of prompt. Firstly, contextualise the quote in your essay and try to use it in your analysis in some way. Secondly, interpret the themes and issues addressed in the quote and implement these into your discussion. The best place to do both of these is in a body paragraph – it weaves in seamlessly and allows for a good amount of analysis, among other reasons!

When faced with unknown prompts in a SAC or your exam, it's reassuring to have a formulaic breakdown of the prompt so that your brain immediately starts categorising the prompt - which of the 5 types of prompts does this one in front of me fall into? To learn more about brainstorming, planning, essay structures for Text Response, read our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

The Erratics is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

‍ Setting is a literary element that refers to the context of where a story takes place, usually alluding to the time and location. Your expectations of a story that takes place in Victorian England would differ greatly from a story set in late 2000s Australia, showing us that the historical, social and geographical aspects of the setting shape the meaning of the text.

In the memoir The Erratics, the setting plays a vital role in Vicki Laveau-Harvie's storytelling. From the beginning of the novel, Laveau-Harvie uses both the title and prologue to foreground the importance of the Okotoks Erratic (a geographical phenomenon in Alberta, Canada) to establish the role that place and belonging have played in her life. Further reinforcing the importance of the setting, the memoir’s narrative follows Laveau-Harvie’s experience flying back to Alberta, Canada (her hometown), after having moved to and started a new life in Australia. 

Why Focus on Setting When Writing a Text Response?

The setting can be useful evidence to have in your repertoire as it helps you show that you not only have an understanding of the ideas of the text but also how those ideas are constructed . When looking at the criteria you will be marked against in the end-of-year exam you will see that to score a 7 and above in Section A you need to consider the ‘construction’ of the text ( read more here ). Construction refers to your ability to discuss the parts that make up a text through the use of metalanguage as evidence to support your views. The setting is just one of the ways you can address construction in The Erratics, but, as a text so focused on physical environments, it’s a good type of metalanguage to start with.

Famous for producing Justin Bieber and maple syrup, Canada has a similar history to Australia. Canada has an Indigenous population who inhabited the land for thousands of years before British and French expeditions came and colonised the land. In the 1700s, due to various conflicts, France ceded most of its North American colonies while the United Kingdom stayed. Over time the country gained greater autonomy and, like Australia, it is now a constitutional monarchy with a prime minister but recognises the British royal family as its sovereign. Further mirroring Australia, Canada also has a colonial past that it is still reckoning with as recent headlines about the human remains of hundreds of Indigenous people at a residential school reminds us. 

Vicki is specifically from Alberta, and the majority of the novel is about her experiences returning there after having moved to Australia (at the start of the memoir she had been estranged from her parents for 18 years). Known for its natural beauty and its nature reserves, Alberta is a part of Western Canada. Alberta is one of only two landlocked provinces in Canada which is interesting considering that Vicki leaves it for a country famous for its beaches and coastal cities. 

When annotating the text , highlight the descriptions of the setting. You’ll notice that when  Laveau-Harvie describes Alberta or Canada as a whole she presents the country as being dangerous and hostile. An example of this is the blunt statement that the ‘cold will kill you. Nothing personal’. However, Laveau-Harvie does find some solace in the landscape, observing the beauty of the ‘opalescent’ peaks and the comfort in predictable seasons. 

Vicki’s Parent’s Home

The first description Laveau-Harvie gives us of her family home is to call it ‘Paradise, [with] twenty acres with a ranch house on a rise, nothing between you and the sky and the distant mountains.’ The idyllic image foregrounds the natural landscape but is then immediately juxtaposed with the description of the home as a ‘time-capsule house sealed against the outside world for a decade’. This description heightens Vicki’s mother and father’s isolation from the outside world and alludes to the hostility of the home that is reaffirmed with the doors that ‘open to no one’. The family home becomes an extended metaphor for Vicki’s parents themselves, with the description of it as a ‘no-go zone’, hinting at the sisters’ estrangement from their parents who have shut them out. 

Moreover, the land the house sits on does not produce any crops despite it being such a large expanse of land, heightening the home’s disconnect from the natural world. This detachment from the natural world is furthered by her labelling her parents as ‘transplants from the city’ and contrasting them to locals who ‘still make preserves in the summer’. Vicki’s mother in particular is at odds with nature due to materialism, such as her wardrobes being full of fur coats.

The Erratics + Napi

In the prologue we are introduced to the Okotoks Erratic as being situated in ‘a landscape of uncommon beauty’ with the Erratic itself being something that ‘dominates the landscape, roped off and isolated, the danger it presents to anyone trespassing palpable’. The memoir then immediately shifts to Vicki’s experience in the hospital trying to convince the staff that she is her mother’s daughter, drawing a parallel between the dominating and dangerous landscape to the dominating and dangerous mother. In the memoir, the Erratic is an extended metaphor for the mother with both the land and the mother being described as ‘unsafe’, ‘dominat[ing]’ and a ‘danger’. Moreover, the structural choice of opening the novel with the Erratic makes its presence felt throughout the novel even though it is not mentioned again until the end of the text. 

In contrast to the prologue, the epilogue has a feeling of peace and reconciliation as the mother and what she has represented to her family is reconciled with the landscape. This is particularly pertinent as the geographical and spiritual origins of the rock revealed in the epilogue is a story of stability after a rupture. This alludes to the ability of Vicki’s family to heal after the trauma inflicted on them by the mother. The epilogue could also be understood as a reminder of humanity's insignificance in the face of nature and larger forces, as represented by Napi.

While Laveau-Harvie does not directly address Canada's colonial past in her memoir outside of the inclusion of Napi, the colonial presence is felt throughout the memoir through the setting of both Australia and Canada. These settings allude to how living on stolen land means that while individuals - particularly middle-class, white individuals - may not always recognise and address the colonial history of the land they live on, the fact that land was never ceded is still felt. 

As discussed before, Canada and Australia are similar as they are both former British colonies that are now constitutional monarchies, so why would Vicki want to move to a place that is similar to where she already lived and experienced trauma? 

There are a few potential answers, the first being the geographical distance. There are over 1300kms between Sydney and Alberta and, considering the trauma Vicki and her sister have experienced, it stands to reason that she would want to put distance between her childhood home and her adult life. This leads to the second reason, travelling to ‘Far flung places’ as a method to deal with trauma. While in Canada, Vicki reminisces about the ‘boozed-up Brits on Bondi’ that embodies her life in Australia. The evocative, alliterative image creates a stark contrast between warm and carefree Australia and cold and emotionally taxing Canada, reinforcing how travelling provides individuals with a means to survive their traumatic childhoods and create new lives for themselves. 

When writing about setting you do not need to be an expert in geography. As this blog post has shown, to understand Laveau-Harvie’s use of setting in The Erratics you only need to know about two countries, so next time you write a text response, consider using your understanding of setting to show your teacher or examiners that you’ve thought about the text’s construction.

If you'd like to dive deeper into this text, Zac breaks down key themes and quotes in The Erratics over on this blog .

Metalanguage is language that describes language. In films, we also need to consider cinematography – the technical side in the making of the film. For a detailed discussion, see  What is metalanguage?  

The prospect of writing a Text Response or Comparative essay on a film can be daunting—it’s difficult to know how to identify filmic devices let alone analyse why the director has used them to give meaning to particular scenes. To start us off, below are some filmic devices commonly used by directors that all students should be aware of when studying films.

Filmic devices

Camera shots.

This refers to the amount of space that is seen in one frame, which can be used to emphasise different aspects of the film’s setting or characters.

Example: An extreme close up of a character’s face to portray their emotions.

comparing articles essay

Camera angles

The way in which the audience is positioned to view the setting or character/s. This can enhance the audience’s understanding of the relationship between characters, or the way in which a character is feeling in a particular situation.

Example: a low camera angle can be used to demonstrate how a character is feeling empowered at a particular point in the film.

comparing articles essay

Any sound where the source of it can be seen in the scene (or is implied to be present) 

Example: Voices, are diegetic. Any sound that comes from outside the scene itself, for example, soundtrack, is non-diegetic. We can analyse the way in which sound enhances the mood of the film.

In the Made in Dagenham clip above, diegetic sound such as the pouring rain, spoons tapping on cups, radio in the background are all used to offer viewers a 'real' sense that we're in the cafe too.

The way in which the scene is lit can create interesting effects in what it suggest about the characters in the scene.

Example: if the main source of light comes from the side of the screen, lighting up one side of a character’s face, this can create a sense of mystery.

comparing articles essay

How a character is dressed in any given scene is very important; their clothes can say a lot about their present state of mind or their physical situation.

comparing articles essay

In-depth analysis using Mabo

Even once we know all this, it can still be difficult to use these devices as evidence to support our ideas in a text response essay. So let’s put our knowledge into practice and take a look at a few scenes from the film Mabo, directed by Rachel Perkins.

Opening scene:  Perkins uses a series of  long shots  of Murray Island in the opening scenes of the film, with  high camera angles . This is done to contextualise the setting, as well as foreshadow the great significance the land will have on the events of the film. The subsequent  low camera angle shots  of the trees on the island present them as being tall and majestic. Paired with the upbeat, vibrant native  music  (non-diegetic sound) that is playing, it is evident that Perkins is celebrating the beauty of the land and emphasising its importance, not just in the film, but in the islanders’ lives.

comparing articles essay

Benny Mabo and a young Eddie walking the beach: a  mid-shot  is initially used in this scene to show father and son walking in the water. This alludes to the strength of the connection that the Mabos have to the island in depicting them as being immersed in water. The subsequent  close ups  of their faces, conveying their contentment, with the waves of the ocean in the background, indicate that this connection to the land goes beyond the mere fact that they live there; the pair are shown to have a profound spiritual and emotional connection with the island. This is emphasised by the soft, peaceful  music  that plays alongside Benny’s recital of Malo’s law.  

comparing articles essay

Killoran exiles Eddie off Murray Island: side  lighting  is used in this scene to shadow some of Killoran’s face. This has a sinister effect. It suggests that his intentions toward Eddie are not honest, and further symbolises the corruption and lack of transparency in the Australian government in their dealings with the Indigenous. The cloud of cigarette smoke that surrounds him further highlights he toxicity of his presence on Murray Island, as does the solemn, foreboding  music  that plays throughout his conversation with Eddie. The  close up shots  of Eddie’s face convey the strength of his resolve in refusing to “[work] as a slave” for Killoran in penance for his crime.

comparing articles essay

Eddie on the railway tracks: this scene is all about Eddie’s internal conflict; his desire to return to his homeland, and the allure of the opportunities that the ‘mainland’ offers him (in particular, Bonita). The  high camera angle  is used to show him dancing across the railway tracks, which is heavy with symbolism, representing the choice between his old and new life. The  close ups  of his face as he sings his native  song  convey his emotional attachment to Murray Island and the depth of his despair at

comparing articles essay

not being able to return to it. His  costume  is comprised of old, dirty clothing, which is representative of his confused, weary and sorrowful state of mind. Yet the use of  backlighting  as he dances suggests that his decision to embrace his new life on the mainland will empower him. It further foreshadows the significance of this choice in enabling him to pursue the land rights case.

comparing articles essay

The Indigenous protest: Perkins deliberately uses  archival/stock footage  in this scene to enhance the viewer’s experience of the Indigenous’ protest at the Mayday march. By using real life footage from this actual historical event, Perkins adds authenticity to this scene, in order to effectively convey the importance of Eddie’s decision to participate. The  high angle shots , and  long shots , are used to show the sheer number of people who were fighting for change. The  music  quickens in pace to indicate a change, a turning point in Eddie’s life, in which he can no longer overlook the racism that his people have suffered. The  close ups  of his and his wife’s face during this scene express their passion and determination in supporting this cause, as well as their strong love for each other.

comparing articles essay

List of film techniques

comparing articles essay

These are just a few examples of the way in which you can use the techniques discussed to make your ideas more credible in text response essays. Some teachers may say that these filmic devices are a secondary source of evidence, but I believe they are equally as important as quotes in demonstrating a thorough understanding of the text—as long as you analyse why the director has chosen to include them.

Remember: the director only has a certain amount of time to tell the story, so every scene is important, and every technique is deliberate. That being said, don’t use these devices at the expense of quotations! 

This study guide is written by Gabrielle O'Hagen (Mabo examples), and Lisa Tran.

  • Plot Summaries
  • Textual Features Analysis
  • Themes (Convergent and Divergent Strategy)
  • LSG’s Bubble Tea (BBT) Strategy for Unique Strategies
  • Sample Essay Questions

Essay Topic Breakdown

For a detailed guide on Comparative, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative.

1. Plot Summaries

In Stasiland , Anna Funder, the author and first-person narrator , meets and listens to the ordinary people of East Germany : those who resisted the GDR dictatorship, those who were crushed by it, and those who diligently and remorselessly worked for it as Stasi informants or officers. As Anna speaks with those whose lives have been traumatised by the Stasi, she reflects on how the reunified Germany has dealt with (or ignored) its citizens' trauma and whether memory can be reconciled . Anna is an Australian working for a television station in Berlin in 1996. As an outsider Anna is uniquely positioned to ask East Germans about their experiences , as they do not have to battle with prior knowledge and experience to share their stories. She is interested in the former German Democratic Republic and what has happened to the East German people since the country reunified with West Germany. She became curious after learning that there are people putting together documents that were shredded by the Stasi.

Anna travels to Leipzig and visits the former headquarters of East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi, which is now a museum. The Stasi were the East German secret police and internal surveillance and defense force . Headed by Erich Mielke, they conducted surveillance on the East German population, aided by a vast number of civilian informants. While in Leipzig, Anna meets with a woman called Miriam Weber, who attempted to sneak out of East Germany when she was just a teenager. Miriam, sleep deprived and tortured, lied about receiving help from an organisation to cross the Wall and was sentenced to jail time. Her husband Charlie was also imprisoned by the Stasi and died while in custody. Miriam was told he committed suicide by hanging, but she suspects he was killed after the Stasi refused to show her his body and went to great lengths to hide Charlie during the funeral.

Returning to the apartment she rents in Berlin, Anna puts an advertisement in the paper calling for former Stasi agents and informers to share their stories with her. She meets with several ex-Stasi men, including Herr Winz, Herr Christian, Herr Bohnsack and Hagen Koch. She also visits and speaks to Karl-Eduard von Schitzler, a hateful man who hosted a propaganda-filled television program that criticised West Germany and gave false information about Communist success. In their discussions the former Stasi agents are concerned with justifying their involvement with the Stasi, although many also remain committed to communist ideals and await with anticipation the next revolution and restoration of the communist government.

Anna rents her apartment from an unpredictable and evasive young woman called Julia. Over time, Julia comes to trust Anna and shares her story of the Stasi cruelly interfering with her life. Anna also speaks with her rock musician friend Klaus Renft – East Germany’s Mick Jagger, and a woman named Frau Paul who was separated overnight from her sick infant son when the Berlin Wall went up and was later imprisoned for inflated charges of assisting people to escape East Germany.

After Anna’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, she goes home to Australia for 3 years, returning to Berlin to meet with some of the people she spoke with during her earlier stay, including Hagen Koch and Miriam. She also finally visits the ‘puzzlers’ in Nuremberg, whose story first sparked her interest in investigating the lives of East Germans affected by the Stasi. Anna is disappointed in the puzzlers, realising that their work is futile and there is no real effort put towards uncovering the lost information.

Almost all East Germans were left reeling at the sudden collapse of their government. For many, the collapse of the GDR took with it ideological security and made them nostalgic for the past. For others, being confronted with the level of the Stasi’s intrusion into their lives was deeply traumatic, as people realised they had been grievously betrayed by their fellow citizens, neighbours and even family members. The nostalgia for the regime that Funder witnesses shows how people cling to certainty and position and sometimes struggle with new freedoms. However, having spoken with so many individuals whose lives were ruined by the Stasi, Anna feels that the old regime was oppressive and authoritarian, and that the East Germans are better off with the challenges of their freedom, rather than stuck with the certainties of their oppression.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go is set in a dystopian alternative reality in England in the 1990s. The narrator, Kathy H, is a thirty-one-year-old 'carer' – a clone who looks after other clones who are donating their organs. Kathy is about to retire after a long career as a carer to become a donor herself, meaning she will soon 'complete' ( a euphemism for dying ). However, this premise is not immediately apparent to the reader . At the start of the novel, Kathy informs us she will be leaving her role as carer in a few months and has started to write down memories of her life, sorting through her time as a 'student' at Hailsham. However, at the start of the novel the reader is not aware that Kathy is a clone, although she appears to be addressing an insider from her world.

In the first third of the novel Kathy reflects on her childhood and teenage years at Hailsham . Hailsham is an institution where clones are looked after by 'guardians' and referred to as 'students', and which at first appears to be a private boarding school with a heavy focus on the arts and creativity. Their best works of painting, pottery, drawing or poetry were selected and taken away by a woman known as 'Madame', for what the students presume, and what is later confirmed to be, a gallery. The students know they are different from their guardians and the people who live outside Hailsham, referred to as 'normals', but the truth of what the clones are and their certain fate is not fully articulated until the characters are adults.

Kathy is close friends with a confident and controlling girl called Ruth and a boy named Tommy, whose work is never selected for the Gallery – an acknowledgement that defines status at the school. Tommy, teased and excluded, struggles to control his temper and often explodes into furies of rage. The students collect items and other students’ artwork for their own memory boxes , bought or traded at the school’s Exchanges and Sales. Kathy buys a cassette tape by a woman named Judy Bridgewater that contains a song called ‘Never Let Me Go’. This song makes Kathy emotional, and one day she is caught dancing to it by Madame, who Kathy is surprised to see is in tears watching her. Kathy presumes Madame is upset because she knows Kathy can never have children.

Ruth and Tommy start dating and Part Two sees the three friends reach early adulthood and move to a place known as the Cottages, to live with other clones from around the country and experience some freedom before beginning their donations or training to become a carer. When Rodney, another Cottage resident, believes he saw Ruth’s 'possible' – an original that one of the clones was modelled off – the three friends along with Rodney and his girlfriend Chrissie, take a trip to Norfolk to find her. Norfolk exists in the imagination of the Hailsham students as a 'lost corner', where things they have lost will be found. While the 'possible' is not Ruth’s original, Kathy and Tommy find a copy of the Judy Bridgewater tape that Kathy had lost. Ruth was secretly desperate to find her possible and hoped to find her working in an office. Ruth dreams of working in an office and her wish that her possible will be an office worker is one of the only suggestions we have that the clones secretly long for more from their lives and view their possibles as versions of them and what they are capable of. Back at the Cottages, Ruth continues to be manipulative and self-promoting, leading to a falling out with Kathy where she decides to leave early to begin training as a carer and falls out of contact with Ruth and Tommy.

Part Three encompasses Kathy’s time as a carer. Years after the time at the Cottages, Kathy organises to be Ruth’s carer and Ruth reconnects Kathy and Tommy, admitting she knew they loved each other and deliberately kept them apart. She hopes they will attempt to get a deferral from Madame. After Ruth 'completes', Kathy and Tommy finally become a couple. They visit Madame to ask for a deferral, who informs them there is no such thing. They learn from Madame that Hailsham was an attempt to reform the treatment of clones in their youth by proving they had souls . In most centers, clones are reared in deplorable, abusive conditions. They also learn that Hailsham had to be shut down. The normals became too uncomfortable with the reality of the clones’ souls but were not prepared to lose their organ supply. Never Let Me Go is a story about injustice and social stratification, where one group is made to suffer for the benefit of another. The 'normals' can deny their mortality while forcing the clones to confront their death sooner than their natural life span , and by shutting down schools like Hailsham, they do not need to think about the ethics of their choices.

Tommy dies and Kathy resigns herself to her fate as a donor. At the end of the novel, Kathy misses Tommy and Ruth, but consoles herself that she will always have her memories with her . Ishiguro explores the extent to which people accept their predetermined fate and how they can find meaning and love within those often-cruel limitations. 

2. Textual Features Analysis

A textual feature is a component of the text used by authors to give meaning to their work. It is necessary to engage with the actual construction of the texts and to discuss textual features using metalanguage (terms that describe and analyse language). To write a thorough and thoughtful essay, you need to understand the textual features and how they are connected to overall thematic ideas. Structural features and metalanguage can be used as evidence of authorial intent and deepen our understanding of how writers use literary techniques to develop ideas and create meaning. Let’s take a look at Genre . 

Stasiland is an example of creative nonfiction, meaning it tells a story of factual events and real people using literary and poetic techniques. The word ‘creative’ doesn’t give authors permission to exaggerate or dramatise the truth, instead this genre is one of factually accurate prose about real people and events that is told in a vivid and compelling way.

The reason Stasiland is classified as creative nonfiction and not under the genre of memoir is because although the events follow Anna Funder’s experiences in Berlin, they are not predominantly about her. A memoir is the writer’s own personal journey and life, whereas creative nonfiction generally has more public relevance and commentary. In Stasiland , Funder’s experiences in Berlin structure the chronology of the narrative but take a thematic backseat to the stories of the East Germans she meets and the historical events she relays . 

Never Let Me Go has elements of multiple genres: dystopian fiction, speculative historical fiction, science fiction and bildungsroman.

‘Dystopia’ means the opposite of ‘utopia’, but you’ll notice that most dystopian novels are set in societies where the ruling classes believe they are in a utopia. This is true of Never Let Me Go , as the clones pay with their lives and freedom for the utopian elimination of disease and extended life spans of the 'normals '. However, while clearly set in a horrific dystopian world, Never Let Me Go notably differs from other novels in the dystopian genre, as the oppressed clones never once consider rebelling against the status quo – the most Kathy and Tommy hope for is an extension before beginning their donations and 'completing'. Ishiguro has stated in multiple interviews that he was most interested in exploring why oppressed persons never consider rebelling against their fate – what leads them to passive acceptance of their position in society?  

In his exploration of this question, Ishiguro explores the development and growing up of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, trying to understand why they all submit without protest to their fate . In this sense the novel is a bildungsroman. Bildungsroman is a genre concerned with the psychological and moral development of a protagonist from childhood to adulthood, focusing on a person’s formation or coming of age. Never Let Me Go follows Kathy, Ruth and Tommy throughout their childhood and adolescence at Hailsham, their experience of limited freedom at the Cottages as young adults, and finally the reality of their short adult life as organ donors.

Of course, Never Let Me Go also fits into the category of speculative historical fiction and science fiction. The novel is set in an alternate historical reality where genetic science rapidly advanced after World War Two (significantly outstripping the real-world) and clones have been used to extend life in the UK for decades. However, Ishiguro does not give much narrative weight to describing the political reality of his fictional world , and neither does he offer much scientific explanation for the existence of clones. As we’ve already discussed, Ishiguro was vastly more interested in using these scientific and political circumstances to create conditions within which to explore characters and, by extension, human nature, so Never Let Me Go fits uneasily in these genres. 

3. Themes (Convergent and Divergent Strategy)

Now that we’ve looked closely at both Stasiland and Never Let Me Go , it’s time to discuss in depth the key themes and ideas. Themes are the big ideas about human experience that a text explores, and form part of the message the author is hoping to communicate. A sound knowledge of key themes is essential for developing a thoughtful essay. All essay topics will ask you to explore thematic ideas in one way or another. If you have a strong understanding of both texts’ themes and how they are communicated, you will be able to generate arguments for any essay topic with confidence.

I’ll be adhering to the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy. This guide doesn’t go into too much detail about using LSG’s CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy, so perhaps familiarise yourself with it by reading How to Write a Killer Comparative . 

Convergent Idea: The Importance of the Act of Remembering

Both Stasiland and Never Let Me Go illustrate the importance of remembering through the very construction of the text: in the narrative voice and narrative structure. Both narrators are looking into the past to try to make sense of history. For Kathy, this is a personal history whereas for Funder it is an act of witnessing a nation’s past and elevating the voices of the victims.

Stasiland is a compilation of the stories of all kinds of people involved and impacted by the GDR , including those who rebelled against the system, those who supported it and those crushed by it. Thus, ‘both sides’ of history are represented. Funder said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald after the publication of Stasiland that, 'When [Germans] read my book, people in the East are not proud of themselves. They'd rather not be reminded that other people were braver than they were. So there is a huge force to pretend that the Stasi regime was not as bad as it was.' This desire to forget the past so as to ignore confronting the terrible and terrifying truths contained within it is what Funder is working against by writing Stasiland . At one point in the text, she explicitly states what she’s doing: 

'I’m making portraits of people, East Germans, of whom there will be none left in a generation. And I’m painting a picture of a city on the old fault-line of east and west. This is working against forgetting, and against time' ( Stasiland , 147).

Julia explains the importance of these portraits, telling Anna 'For anyone to understand a regime like the GDR, the stories of ordinary people must be told. …You have to look at how normal people manage with such things in their pasts' (144). These 'things in their pasts' are not just trauma and hardship, but the knowledge that people just like them – their spouses, children, friends and neighbours – were capable of such cowardice, betrayal, self-interest and cruelty. It is this knowledge that Funder wants to preserve – that ordinary people are capable of both extraordinary courage and extraordinary cowardice .

Anna comes across a sobbing man 'I don’t want to be German anymore!...We are terrible…They are terrible. The Germans are terrible' ( Stasiland , 253-4). Anna reflects that East Germans were 'long used to thinking the bad Germans were on the other side of the Wall' and now he is forced to ask 'were his people, now broke or drunk, shamed or fled or imprisoned or dead, any good at all?' ( Stasiland , 254).

Although Kathy’s narration is entirely from her perspective , her act of remembering is also in many ways a political statement that forces us to consider the inhumanity people are capable of .

Kathy recollects and structures her memories of her childhood and relationships to understand them as a unified whole, essentially establishing her identity . More importantly, it is evident in phrases such as 'I don’t know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham…' ( NLMG , 13) and 'I’m sure you’ve heard it said plenty more' ( NLMG , 4) that Kathy is positing a reader for her writing. Assuming a reader places her autobiography in a social framework with the purpose of communicating her life , which turns it into a historical account that exists beyond the limit of her death. Kathy’s attempt to leave a legacy by writing down her experiences and structuring her identity is an act of protest against a society that believes she is sub-human , without feelings or motivations, and that her life meant nothing.

Divergent Idea: The Role and Value of Nostalgia

The way memory can be distorted is particularly clear in relation to the idea of nostalgia for a brutal past. This idea is explored differently in Stasiland and Never Let Me Go , with Funder condemning nostalgia as blinding people to the horrors of the past, and Ishiguro illustrating how drawing comfort from the past can help people through difficult times .

In Stasiland , many disaffected former East Germans tell Anna that things were 'so much better before' ( Stasiland , 251) the country’s reunification. Anna reflects: 

'I don’t doubt this genuine nostalgia, but I think it has coloured a cheap and nasty world golden; a world where they was nothing to buy, nowhere to go and anyone who wanted to do anything with their lives other than serve the Party risked persecution, or worse' ( Stasiland , 251-2).

Similarly, while working at the radio station on Ostalgie parties ( Ostalgie is nostalgia for life in Communist East Germany), Miriam observes 'a crazy nostalgia for the GDR – as if it had been a harmless welfare state that looked after people’s needs. Most of the people at these parties are too young to remember the GDR anyway. They are just looking for something to yearn for' ( Stasiland , 275). Funder is critical of nostalgia because it minimises past injustice .

Conversely, in Never Let Me Go , nostalgia and false memories are shown to be consolatory and even useful. Before Kathy begins to recount her childhood, she mentions a donor who was once under her care who 'knew he was close to completing' ( NLMG , 5). He asks Kathy to share memories of her childhood and 'What he wanted was not just to hear about Hailsham, but to remember Hailsham, just like it had been his own childhood. …so the line would blur between what were my memories and his' ( NLMG , 5). Although this man is falsifying his memories, he is not editing and revising history like some people in east Berlin , he is replacing them entirely to suppress the trauma of his own past. He is not yearning for a return to an idealised past the way some people in Stasiland do. For Kathy, nostalgia for her childhood helps her reconnect with her friends, creating a sense of belonging and identity. Her attachment to Hailsham strengthens her worldview, her relational bonds and gives meaning to her life. Nostalgic memory in Never Let Me Go brings comfort, although you could argue that it also fosters passivity and acceptance in the face of oppression .

4. LSG’s Bubble Tea (BBT) Strategy for Unique Strategies

Why is an interpretation important.

Your interpretation is what English is all about; it’s about getting you to think critically about the essay topic at hand, to formulate a contention (agree, disagree, or sit on the fence) and argue each of your points with the best pieces of evidence you can find - and it’s something you might already be starting to do naturally.

In this section, we aim to help you develop your own interpretation of the text, rather than relying on your teacher, tutor or even a study guide (including this one) author’s interpretation. By developing your own interpretation, you become a better English student by:

  • Writing with meaning. For a text to be interpreted, you need a text and an interpreter (i.e. you!). Whenever we read a new text, our interpretation of a text is shaped by our pre-existing beliefs, knowledge and expectations. This should be reassuring because it means that you can leverage your own life experiences in developing a unique interpretation of the text! We’ll show you how this works in the next point.
  • Remembering evidence (quotes or literary devices) more easily. If you know you admire a character for example (which is in itself an interpretation 😉), you can probably remember why you admire them. Perhaps the character’s selflessness reminds you of your Dad (see how you’re using real life experiences mentioned in Point 1 to develop an interpretation of the text?). You will then more easily recall something the character said or did in the text (i.e. evidence) that made you admire them.
  • Having an analysis ready to use alongside the evidence. As a result of Point 2 , you’ll be able to write a few sentences based on your own interpretation. Rather than memorising entire essays ( we’ve talked about this before ) and regurgitating information from teachers, tutors, study guides and other resources - which can be labour intensive and actually detract from the originality of your essay - you’re approaching the essay with your own thoughts and opinions (which you can reuse over and over again across different essay topics).

Let’s look on the flip side. What happens when you don’t have your own interpretation?

When you don’t take the time to actively think for yourself - i.e. to think through your own interpretations (we’ve talked about the importance of THINK in the THINK and EXECUTE strategy here ) - when it finally comes to writing an essay, you may find it difficult:

a) to get started - formulating a contention in response to the essay topic is challenging because you have no strong opinion about the text ,

b) complete the essay - writing up arguments and using evidence in paragraphs becomes challenging because you have no strong opinion about the text ,

c) to score higher marks - ultimately, you end up regurgitating other people’s ideas (your teacher’s, tutor’s or from study guides) because you have (you guessed it) no strong opinion on the text .

Having your own interpretation means that you’ll eliminate issues a, b and c from above. Overall, you’ll have opinions (and therefore contentions) ready for any prompt when you go into your SACs or exams, which means it’ll be easier not only to write a full essay, but an original and insightful one as well.

To overcome the issues above, you need to be confident with your own interpretation of the text. This doesn’t come naturally to a lot of students, and it makes sense why. After all, so many subjects reward specific answers (2 + 2 = 4), whereas English is tricky because there’s so much more flexibility in what constitutes a ‘correct answer’. It’s scary treading the sea of different possible interpretations because you’ll ask yourself questions like:

  • How do I know if my interpretation is correct?
  • How do I know if my evidence actually backs up what I’m arguing?
  • What if I disagree with my teacher, and they mark me down for a differing opinion?
  • Or worse - I’m not smart enough to come up with my own interpretation!

Let me say that you are absolutely smart enough to develop your own interpretation, and I’ll show you how to do so in A Killer Comparative Guide: Stasiland & Never Let Me Go with LSG’s unique strategy - the BUBBLE TEA (BBT) strategy . By following our step-by-step framework, you can be confident that your interpretation is valid, that it backs up your argument, and that most importantly, you won’t lose marks for it!

 5. Sample Essay Questions

1. ‘To conform is to be safe and to survive.’ Compare how this idea is examined in both texts.

2. 'The earlier years…blur into each other as a kind of golden time' ( Never Let Me Go ) 'I don’t doubt this genuine nostalgia, but I think it has coloured a cheap and nasty world golden.' ( Stasiland ) Compare what the two texts say about the dangers of willful ignorance.

3. 'For Miriam, the past stopped when Charlie died.' ( Stasiland ) '…I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, maybe even call…and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn’t sobbing…I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be.' ( Never Let Me Go ) What role do love and relationships play in helping people withstand persecution?

4. ‘It is impossible to be free when you are unaware of your confines.’ Compare how the two texts explore freedom and confinement.

4. ‘The past is always harder to access than we think’. Compare the ways in which Stasiland and Never Let Me Go depict the difficulties in uncovering the past.

As with all our essay topic breakdowns, we'll follow LSG's THINK and EXECUTE strategy , as taught in our How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide. The LSG's THINK and EXECUTE strategy follows three steps in the THINK phase - A nalyse, B rainstorm, and C reate a Plan. Learn more about this technique in this video:

'To remember or forget? Which is healthier? To demolish it or fence it off? To dig it up, or leave it to lie in the ground?' ( Stasiland ). 'What he wanted was not just to hear about Hailsham, but to remember Hailsham, just like it had been his own childhood' ( Never Let Me Go ). How does memory inform identity in Stasiland and Never Let Me Go ?

Step 1: Analyse

This quote-based prompt is constructed a bit like a theme-based prompt as it directs us to talk about memory’s role in forming identity. However, the quotes act as an additional hint in terms of what else we’re supposed to discuss. We need to identify where these quotes come from in the texts and why they might be significant. The Stasiland quote (from p. 52) comes from the question of what the nation should do with Hitler’s bunker. In the end the only decision was indecision, the mayor buried the bunker and hoped that people in 50 years might know what to do with it. Thus, this quote points to the difficulty countries have in creating a national identity when there is horror and trauma in their history. The Never Let Me Go quote (from p. 5) points towards an ill donor’s recreation of his identity using someone else’s memories. Therefore, this quote points to how memories, even false ones, can reconstruct individual identity.

Step 2: Brainstorm

Because of the direction of the two quotes, I am going to explore memory’s role in forming individual and group identity.

Individual identity:

  • Kathy and Julia develop greater self-insight through sharing their memories in a structured, logical narrative.
  • Kathy and Herr Koch fear that the loss of the physical presence of Hailsham and the Berlin Wall will undermine the significance of their memories of these places, which form a substantial part of their pasts and identities. They therefore pay much more attention to preserving their memories of these places to affirm their identity.

Group identity:

  • East Germany’s rewriting and erasure of history meant that they no longer identified as the same Germans responsible for Hitler’s regime.
  • The episode in which a distressed man sobs 'I don’t want to be German anymore!' reveals how difficult memories can generate confusion and internal conflict over an individual’s perception of their national identity.
  • In NLMG , the country’s determined forgetting of the circumstances of the clones allows them to preserve their own interests and maintain an uncomplicated, guilt-free, but false, innocent national identity.

Step 3: Create a Plan

P1: Both texts show that the degree to which one’s memories have been investigated and illuminated impacts how well they understand their identity.

  • Compare Kathy and Julia and the way they reconstruct their understanding of their identity by reflecting on their memories with the new information offered by hindsight.
  • Conversely, the ill donor that Kathy cares for at the beginning of the novel sought to purposefully suppress his own identity by replacing his memories. This speaks to the same idea that memories can evolve and shape identity but shows how that can be misaligned with reality and truth (note: this discussion of the donor is your opportunity to use the quote from the prompt, which is a requirement of a quote-based topic).

P2: Sometimes people hold on tightly to particular memories as a way to affirm their identity as losing those memories is akin to erasing or denying the legitimacy of their experiences.

  • Compare Hagen Koch’s obsession with the Berlin Wall and Kathy’s preoccupation with Hailsham.

P3: Choosing what gets remembered or forgotten in a nation’s ‘official history’ drastically impacts how their national identity is perceived and how well that identity aligns with reality.

  • 'History was so quickly remade, and so successfully, that it can truly be said that the easterners did not feel then, and do not feel now, that they were the same Germans as those responsible for Hitler’s regime'
  • 'I don’t want to be German anymore!'
  • 'To remember or forget? Which is healthier?'
  • 'The world didn’t want to be reminded how the donation program really worked.'
  • 'They preferred to believe these organs appeared from nowhere.'

If you'd like to see the sample A+ essay we wrote up for this essay topic, then you might want to check out our A Killer Comparative Guide: Stasiland & Never Let Me Go study guide !

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  • Key Differences

Know the Differences & Comparisons

Difference Between Article and Essay

article vs essay

An article is nothing but a piece of writing commonly found in newspapers or websites which contain fact-based information on a specific topic. It is published with the aim of making the reader aware of something and keeping them up to date.

An essay is a literary work, which often discusses ideas, experiences and concepts in a clear and coherent way. It reflects the author’s personal view, knowledge and research on a specific topic.

Content: Article Vs Essay

Comparison chart, definition of article.

An ‘article’ can be described as any form of written information which is produced either in a printed or electronic form, in newspaper, magazine, journal or website. It aims at spreading news, results of surveys, academic analysis or debates.

An article targets a large group of people, in order to fascinate the readers and engage them. Hence, it should be such that to retain the interest of the readers.

It discusses stories, reports and describes news, present balanced argument, express opinion, provides facts, offers advice, compares and contrast etc. in a formal or informal manner, depending upon the type of audience.

For writing an article one needs to perform a thorough research on the matter, so as to provide original and authentic information to the readers.

Components of Article

  • Title : An article contains a noticeable title which should be intriguing and should not be very long and descriptive. However, it should be such that which suggests the theme or issue of the information provided.
  • Introduction : The introduction part must clearly define the topic, by giving a brief overview of the situation or event.
  • Body : An introduction is followed by the main body which presents the complete information or news, in an elaborative way, to let the reader know about the exact situation.
  • Conclusion : The article ends with a conclusion, which sums up the entire topic with a recommendation or comment.

Definition of Essay

An essay is just a formal and comprehensive piece of literature, in which a particular topic is discussed thoroughly. It usually highlights the writer’s outlook, knowledge and experiences on that particular topic. It is a short literary work, which elucidates, argues and analyzes a specific topic.

The word essay is originated from the Latin term ‘exagium’ which means ‘presentation of a case’. Hence, writing an essay means to state the reasons or causes of something, or why something should be done or should be the case, which validates a particular viewpoint, analysis, experience, stories, facts or interpretation.

An essay is written with the intent to convince or inform the reader about something. Further, for writing an essay one needs to have good knowledge of the subject to explain the concept, thoroughly. If not so, the writer will end up repeating the same points again and again.

Components of the Essay

  • Title : It should be a succinct statement of the proposition.
  • Introduction : The introduction section of the essay, should be so interesting which instantly grabs the attention of the reader and makes them read the essay further. Hence, one can start with a quote to make it more thought-provoking.
  • Body : In the main body of the essay, evidence or reasons in support of the writer’s ideas or arguments are provided. One should make sure that there is a sync in the paragraphs of the main body, as well as they,  should maintain a logical flow.
  • Conclusion : In this part, the writer wraps up all the points in a summarized and simplified manner.

Key Differences Between Article and Essay

Upcoming points will discuss the difference between article and essay:

  • An article refers to a written work, published in newspapers, journals, website, magazines etc, containing news or information, in a specific format. On the other hand, an essay is a continuous piece of writing, written with the aim of convincing the reader with the argument or merely informing the reader about the fact.
  • An article is objective in the sense that it is based on facts and evidence, and simply describes the topic or narrate the event. As against, an essay is subjective, because it is based on fact or research-based opinion or outlook of a person on a specific topic. It analyses, argues and criticizes the topic.
  • The tone used in an article is conversational, so as to make the article easy to understand and also keeping the interest of the reader intact. On the contrary, an essay uses educational and analytical tone.
  • An article may contain headings, which makes it attractive and readable. In contrast, an essay does not have any headings, sections or bullet points, however, it is a coherent and organized form of writing.
  • An article is always written with a definite objective, which is to inform or make the readers aware of something. Further, it is written to cater to a specific niche of audience. Conversely, an essay is written in response to a particular assertion or question. Moreover, it is not written with a specific group of readers in mind.
  • An article is often supported by photographs, charts, statistics, graphs and tables. As opposed, an essay is not supported by any photographs, charts, or graphs.
  • Citations and references are a must in case of an essay, whereas there is no such requirement in case of an article.

By and large, an article is meant to inform the reader about something, through news, featured stories, product descriptions, reports, etc. On the flip side, an essay offers an analysis of a particular topic, while reflecting a detailed account of a person’s view on it.

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abstract vs introduction

Anna H. Smith says

November 15, 2020 at 6:21 pm

Great! Thank you for explaining the difference between an article and an academic essay so eloquently. Your information is so detailed and very helpful. it’s very educative, Thanks for sharing.

Sunita Singh says

December 12, 2020 at 7:11 am

Thank you! That’s quite helpful.

Saba Zia says

March 8, 2021 at 12:33 am

Great job!! Thank u for sharing this explanation and detailed difference between essay and article. It is really helpful.

Khushi Chaudhary says

February 7, 2021 at 2:38 pm

Thank you so much! It is really very easy to understand & helpful for my test.

Dury Frizza says

July 25, 2022 at 8:18 pm

Thanks a lot for sharing such a clear and easily understood explanation!!!!.

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Donald Trump again compares his criminal indictments to imprisonment and death of Putin’s top rival

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News Channel town hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Greenville, S.C., as moderator Laura Ingraham listens. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News Channel town hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Greenville, S.C., as moderator Laura Ingraham listens. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News Channel town hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump greets people after a Fox News Channel town hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump looks to Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., during a Fox News Channel town hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Donald Trump doubled down Tuesday on comparing his criminal indictments to the circumstances of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny , the top political opponent of Russia’s autocratic leader Vladimir Putin who died in a remote arctic prison after being jailed by the Kremlin leader.

Appearing on a Fox News Channel town hall pre-taped before a live audience in Greenville, South Carolina, Trump bemoaned Navalny’s death, which President Joe Biden and other Western leaders have blamed on Putin. Trump then pivoted to himself, repeating his assertions that the prosecutions against him are driven by politics despite no evidence that Biden or the White House ordered them.

“Navalny is a very sad situation and he’s very brave, he was a very brave guy,” Trump said in response to a question from Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham. “He went back, he could have stayed away, and frankly probably would have been a lot better off staying away and talking from outside of the country as opposed to having to go back in, because people thought that could happen, and it did happen.

“And it’s a horrible thing, but it’s happening in our country, too,” Trump continued, suggesting his criminal indictments — which include two cases stemming from his efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat — are proof that the U.S. is “turning into a communist country in many ways.”

FILE - Kristina Karamo speaks to Michigan Republican Party delegates Feb. 18, 2023, in Lansing, Mich. The Michigan GOP, long a bastion of traditional conservatism, is in a cash crunch and power struggle within its ranks. Some are openly alienating lifetime Republicans and undermining the party's work in key swing states. Allies of Pete Hoekstra, Trump's chosen state chairman, are in court trying to force out Karamo, who was elected last year. (AP Photo/Joey Cappelletti, File)

“I got indicted four times ... all because of the fact that I’m in politics,” Trump said. “They indicted me on things that are so ridiculous.”

He extended the comparison to his loss in a civil fraud trial last week, in which a New York judge ordered Trump to pay $355 million in penalties after finding he lied about his wealth for years. With interest, Trump owes the state about $454 million.

“It is a form of Navalny,” Trump said. “It is a form of communism, of fascism.”

He did not give a clear answer when asked whether he would post a bond covering the judgment, which is one way he’d be able to avoid having to pay the full amount while he appeals.

Trump made no mention of Putin, part of his longstanding pattern of refusing to denounce and often complimenting the Russian leader going back to when he was in the White House. But his remarks come as House Republicans have refused to provide more funding to Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s invasion and as many in the Republican Party grow more accepting of Russian expansionism.

Putin recently suggested he preferred Biden in the White House to Trump. U.S. intelligence assessments of both the 2016 and 2020 elections found that Russia was behind influence operations to boost Trump at the expense of his Democratic Party opponents.

Ingraham interrupted Trump at the town hall Tuesday to ask whether he believed he could become a “potential political prisoner” for the rest of his life like Navalny. Trump sidestepped the question.

“If I were losing in the polls, they wouldn’t even be talking about me and I wouldn’t have had any legal fees,” he answered. “If I were out, I think — although they hate me so much, I think if I got out they’d still, ‘let’s pursue this guy, we can’t stand this guy.’”

The Fox town hall, recorded Tuesday afternoon and broadcast during Ingraham’s primetime hour on the network, marked Trump’s first extended remarks about Navalny since Russian officials announced his death. The town hall came four days before Trump competes against Nikki Haley in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary.

Ingraham began the discussion by offering Trump, who has praised Putin for years as a strong leader, a chance to clarify his only previous public reference to Navalny’s demise. In a social media post 72 hours after Russian officials confirmed Navalny had died, Trump broke his silence without mentioning Putin or Navalny’s family.

“The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country,” he wrote before blasting “CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction” and repeating his false claims that U.S. elections are riddled with fraud.

Cooper reported from Phoenix.

BILL BARROW

Wednesday briefing: Trump’s Navalny comparison; Biden impeachment inquiry; Gaza cease-fire veto; California flooding; quasar; and more

comparing articles essay

Donald Trump and his allies are comparing Alexei Navalny’s plight to his own.

  • What ’ s happening: Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main political rival , died in prison last week. His mother is suing to retrieve his body . And his widow has vowed to fight on .
  • U.S. reaction: President Biden blamed Putin, and plans to levy “major sanctions.” Trump likened Navalny’s death — which he hasn’t condemned — to his own legal troubles.
  • In related news: A Russian military defector’s body, riddled with bullets , was found in Spain last week, Ukraine said.

Biden’s brother is set to be interviewed in an impeachment hearing today.

  • Why? As part of House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry , focused on Biden’s son Hunter’s business deals. They haven’t shown evidence of wrongdoing by the president.
  • What’s next? After James Biden’s testimony, Hunter Biden will have a closed-door interview next week.
  • In related news: An FBI informant, charged last week with lying about the Bidens, has claimed close ties to Russian intelligence .

The U.S. vetoed another U.N. proposal for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip .

  • Why? The proposal would “ send the wrong message to Hamas ” and undercut negotiations for a broader peace plan , it said. The U.S. is circulating a limited resolution instead.
  • This morning: The U.S. sided with Israel at a hearing before the U.N.’s top court about the legality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Two men were charged with murder in the Kansas City parade shooting.

  • The latest: The men could face life in prison for the incident that killed one woman and injured at least 22 other people last week at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl celebration .
  • What else to know: The men, who remain hospitalized, allegedly pulled guns during an altercation with others, prosecutors said yesterday. Two juveniles were charged last week .

A major cybercriminal group was disrupted by global law enforcement.

  • Which one? LockBit, one of the world’s most prolific ransomware gangs. Its software has been used to extort over $120 million from more than 2,000 victims, officials said.
  • The operation: An 11-nation task force infiltrated the group, believed to be operated from Russia , it said yesterday. It made arrests and froze 200 cryptocurrency accounts.

Flooding and mudslides are hitting California in a major storm.

  • What to know: The state has faced days of strong winds and heavy rains from an atmospheric river — a plume of moisture that carries precipitation from the tropics.
  • Today: The threat of additional flooding continues , with flood watches affecting millions of people. This evening could bring thunderstorms and hail.

Astronomers identified what might be the brightest object in the universe.

  • What you’re looking at: An artist’s rendering of a quasar — a dazzling whirlpool of fast-moving, ultra-hot gas produced by the fastest-growing black hole known to humans.
  • How bright is it? 500 trillion times more intense than our sun, scientists said this week. It’s so bright that if it were at the center of our galaxy, Earth would never again have night .

And now … keep getting lost? Here’s how to get the most from Google Maps .

Want to catch up quickly with “The 7” every morning? Download The Post’s app and turn on alert notifications for The 7 or sign up for the newsletter .

comparing articles essay

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Mother of george floyd's daughter calls tom sandoval's comparison 'stupid', george floyd daughter's mother calls 'scandoval' comparison 'stupid' tom's alive, george isn't, exclusive 41 2/22/2024 12:40 am pt.

Tom Sandoval 's comparison between George Floyd 's murder and his cheating scandal's not just drawing ire from fans ... it's also pissing off the mother of George's young daughter.

Roxie Washington , -- who shares 10-year-old Gianna with George -- tells TMZ ... she's not super familiar with "Vanderpump Rules" and doesn't even know who Tom Sandoval is ... she does say he has to be off his rocker to compare his own personal issues to Floyd's death.

ICYMI ... Sandoval sat down for an interview with the New York Times where he said, "I’m not a pop-culture historian really but I witnessed the O.J. Simpson thing and George Floyd and all these big things, which is really weird to compare this to that, I think, but do you think in a weird way it’s a little bit the same?"

Well, Roxie tells us she finds Sandoval's comment flat-out stupid ... adding he and his ex-GF, Ariana Madix , are still alive ... so him trying to compare his situation to George's just isn't reasonable, nor is it even in the same ballpark.

Even though she's not familiar with "Scandoval" ... Roxie says from what she can gather -- Tom's a grown-ass man who's just gone through a breakup ... not a child -- like her daughter, whose dad isn't coming home.

RW didn't just blast TS for comparing his situation to George's death either -- adding Nicole Brown Simpson 's dead too, so she finds it just as disrespectful for Sandoval to invoke her name as well.

Roxie says Tom needs to go repeat that "dumb s***" in a mirror ... telling us his comment reflects horrible things Gianna hears from some classmates. She also says this is on the same level of absurdity as comments Kanye West made in the past. So, yeah ... she's kinda comparing Tom to that.

Remember ... in 2022, Kanye claimed Floyd died from a drug overdose/preexisting conditions, and Roxie threatened to sue KW on behalf of her daughter -- though it's unclear if she ever filed a lawsuit.

FWIW ... Tom apologized for his remarks, calling the comparison "inappropriate and ignorant" -- but, Roxie says she's not accepting his apology explaining she and her daughter have been affected in a major way by this and people need to watch what they say in the future.

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Trump Breaks Silence on Navalny Death, but Doesn’t Condemn Putin

His winding social media post on Monday contained no reference to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, who has been widely condemned after the death of one of his most vocal critics, Aleksei A. Navalny.

  • Share full article

A picture of Aleksei A. Navalny sits on a memorial site, placed amid many flowers.

By Anjali Huynh

Days after the death of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny was first reported, Donald J. Trump broke his silence in a social media post on Monday that barely mentioned Mr. Navalny and that did not condemn President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Instead, he used Mr. Navalny’s death to suggest that his own legal battles amounted to political persecution.

It was a note he hit first on Sunday, when he shared screenshots of an opinion essay that compared his relationship with President Biden to the one between Mr. Navalny and Mr. Putin.

“The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country,” the former president wrote on Truth Social on Monday, using an alternative spelling of Mr. Navalny’s given name. He pointed to what he called “CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction.”

But the winding social media post contained no reference to Mr. Putin, who has drawn widespread condemnation from politicians in the United States and abroad amid speculation that he or the Russian government had a hand in Mr. Navalny’s death. Instead, Mr. Trump cited “Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions” in casting the U.S., in all capital letters, as a “nation in decline, a failing nation.”

Mr. Trump, who has been indicted in four criminal cases and is facing 91 felony counts , was ordered on Friday to pay about $450 million , after a New York judge found in his civil fraud case that he had conspired to manipulate his net worth. He has repeatedly tried to blame Mr. Biden for his legal problems, though Mr. Biden has no purview over the cases.

Nikki Haley, Mr. Trump’s rival in the Republican presidential primary and his former ambassador to the United Nations, attacked him over his response.

“Donald Trump could have condemned Vladimir Putin for being a murderous thug,” she wrote on Monday on the social media platform X . “Trump could have praised Navalny’s courage. Instead, he stole a page from liberals’ playbook, denouncing America and comparing our country to Russia.”

Ms. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has seized on Mr. Navalny’s death as a means to criticize Mr. Trump’s past remarks that praised Mr. Putin. She has called Mr. Navalny a “hero,” echoed claims that Mr. Putin had a hand in his death and said that Mr. Trump needed to “answer to that.”

The former president has a long history of complimenting Mr. Putin, calling him “pretty smart” even as Russia prepared to invade Ukraine. And he has at times favored the country over traditional U.S. allies, which Ms. Haley has sought to highlight. Shortly before Mr. Navalny died, Mr. Trump told voters in South Carolina that he would “encourage” Russia to attack NATO allies that failed to pay what they owed to the security alliance.

Mr. Navalny, who was one of Mr. Putin’s most vocal critics, was confirmed dead by his political allies on Saturday, after Russian officials said on Friday that he had died in a prison inside the Arctic Circle. Mr. Biden, addressing the news on Friday , said that while U.S. officials did not know the specifics surrounding Mr. Navalny’s death, he had “no doubt” that it “was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did.”

Until Monday, Mr. Trump had not commented explicitly on Mr. Navalny’s death, instead issuing posts that cast the world as more dangerous during Mr. Biden’s time in office.

Anjali Huynh , a member of the 2023-24 Times Fellowship class based in New York, covers national politics, the 2024 presidential campaign and other elections. More about Anjali Huynh

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Tom Sandoval Issues Apology After Comparing Scandoval to OJ Simpson & George Floyd

Tom Sandoval Issues Apology After Comparing Scandoval to OJ Simpson & George Floyd

Tom Sandoval has released a new statement following backlash on Tuesday (February 20).

The 40-year-old Vanderpump Rules reality star had a new interview with The New York Times drop that day, and in the feature, he compared Scandoval to that of the OJ Simpson trial and George Flood , which drew quite a lot of backlash on social media.

Following the reaction to his quote, Tom shared an apology and was intention behind what he said was.

Keep reading to find out more…

“My intentions behind the comments I made in New York Times Magazine were to explain the level of national media attention my affair received. The comparison was inappropriate and ignorant. I’m incredibly sorry and embarrassed,” he shared on his Instagram story.

If you missed it, in the NYT Magazine interview, Tom said, “I’m not a pop-culture historian really, but I witnessed the O.J. Simpson thing and George Floyd and all these big things, which is really weird to compare this to that, I think, but do you think in a weird way it’s a little bit the same?”

Find out more of what he said in the interview…

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  1. Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

    Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay | Tips & Examples Published on August 6, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023. Comparing and contrasting is an important skill in academic writing. It involves taking two or more subjects and analyzing the differences and similarities between them.

  2. Compare and Contrast Essays: The Ultimate Guide

    A compare-and-contrast essay is a style of essay that points out the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. It's ideal for showing what separates and unites related things or concepts, particularly if the subjects are often confused for each other or unjustly lumped together.

  3. Comparing and Contrasting

    One of the most common is the comparison/contrast essay, in which you focus on the ways in which certain things or ideas—usually two of them—are similar to (this is the comparison) and/or different from (this is the contrast) one another.

  4. Comparing and Contrasting

    Comparing and Contrasting The professor says to compare and contrast A and B ... Determining the Structure of your Essay: Determining the structure of your essay is the most important step towards conducting and presenting to the reader a well-developed comparison. Students are often asked to compare things in twos.

  5. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Comparing & Contrasting

    Use Clear Transitions. Transitions are important in compare and contrast essays, where you will be moving frequently between different topics or perspectives. Examples of transitions and phrases for comparisons: as well, similar to, consistent with, likewise, too. Examples of transitions and phrases for contrasts: on the other hand, however ...

  6. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

    1. Begin by Brainstorming With a Venn Diagram. The best compare and contrast essays demonstrate a high level of analysis. This means you will need to brainstorm before you begin writing. A Venn diagram is a great visual tool for brainstorming compare and contrast essay topics.

  7. Compare and Contrast Essay: Topics, Outline, Examples

    Compare and contrast essays are academic papers in which a student analyses two or more subjects with each other. To compare means to explore similarities between subjects, while to contrast means to look at their differences. Both subjects of the comparison are usually in the same category, although they have their differences.

  8. Writing Comparative Essays: Making Connections to Illuminate Ideas

    Writing Comparative Essays: Making Connections to Illuminate Ideas - The New York Times Writing Comparative Essays: Making Connections to Illuminate Ideas Breathing new life into a familiar...

  9. Comparing and Contrasting: A Guide to Improve Your Essays

    An academic compare and contrast essay looks at two or more subjects, ideas, people, or objects, compares their likeness, and contrasts their differences. It's an informative essay that provides insights on what is similar and different between the two items. Depending on the essay's instructions, you can focus solely on comparing or ...

  10. The Comparative Essay

    What is a comparative essay? A comparative essay asks that you compare at least two (possibly more) items. These items will differ depending on the assignment. You might be asked to compare positions on an issue (e.g., responses to midwifery in Canada and the United States) theories (e.g., capitalism and communism)

  11. 10.7 Comparison and Contrast

    Learn more 10.7 Comparison and Contrast Learning Objectives Determine the purpose and structure of comparison and contrast in writing. Explain organizational methods used when comparing and contrasting. Understand how to write a compare-and-contrast essay. The Purpose of Comparison and Contrast in Writing

  12. How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay (with Pictures)

    Article Summary X. To write a compare and contrast essay, try organizing your essay so you're comparing and contrasting one aspect of your subjects in each paragraph. Or, if you don't want to jump back and forth between subjects, structure your essay so the first half is about one subject and the second half is about the other.

  13. Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast

    The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. The purpose of conducting the comparison or contrast is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities.

  14. How to Write a Comparative Essay (with Pictures)

    2. Use a mixed paragraphs method. Address both halves of the comparison in each paragraph. This means that the first paragraph will compare the first aspect of each subject, the second will compare the second, and so on, making sure to always address the subjects in the same order.

  15. 34 Compelling Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

    What is a compare and contrast essay? When choosing a compare and contrast essay example to include on this list, we considered the structure. A strong compare and contrast essay begins with an introductory paragraph that includes background context and a strong thesis.

  16. 5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

    A compare and contrast essay selects two or more items that are critically analyzed to demonstrate their differences and similarities. Here is a template for you that provides the general structure: Here's an Editable Copy of This Template you can Have A range of example essays is presented below. Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

  17. 10 Easy Steps: How to Write a Comparative Analysis of Two Articles

    Step 1: Choose Your Articles The first step in writing a comparative analysis is to select two articles that are relevant to your topic. Look for articles that discuss similar themes or present contrasting viewpoints. Ensure that the articles are credible and well-researched to provide a solid foundation for your analysis.

  18. 101 Compare and Contrast Essay Ideas for Students

    Following is a list of 101 topics for compare and contrast essays that you are welcome to use in your classroom. As you look through the list you will see that some items are academic in nature while others are included for interest-building and fun writing activities. Apple vs. Microsoft Coke vs. Pepsi Renaissance Art vs. Baroque Art

  19. Exploring an A+ Language Analysis Essay Comparing Two Articles

    Evidence: Article 2's Invitation to Empathise. Example: Writes he 'cannot imagine the horrors', inviting readers to try too. Evidence: Article 2's Emotive Language. Example: 'pain', 'suffering', 'deprivation of hope' to invoke sympathy. Evidence: Article 2's Placing of Blame. Example: Blames Australian Government for the 'suffering ...

  20. Difference Between Article and Essay (with Comparison Chart)

    Key Differences Conclusion Comparison Chart Definition of Article An 'article' can be described as any form of written information which is produced either in a printed or electronic form, in newspaper, magazine, journal or website. It aims at spreading news, results of surveys, academic analysis or debates.

  21. Text Compare

    6 Hours Compare You can now compare two text documents by using the online text compare application. The content that you want to compare can be in different formats, and you get to see the highlighted difference in results within seconds.

  22. Comparing Articles Essay

    Comparing two newspaper articles, one from a tabloid and one from a broadsheet will convey the different techniques that tabloids and broadsheets use to present stories. Media in general, aim to inform and interest the audience which consist of many different types. Diverse emotions and ideas are created by the media; foremost tabloids.

  23. Trump compares his indictments to imprisonment and death of Navalny

    Updated 8:03 PM PST, February 20, 2024. GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Donald Trump doubled down Tuesday on comparing his criminal indictments to the circumstances of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, the top political opponent of Russia's autocratic leader Vladimir Putin who died in a remote arctic prison after being jailed by the Kremlin leader.

  24. Trump-Navalny Comparison: Insightful or Unhinged?

    In New York, President Joe Biden's chief rival, Donald Trump, was edged toward ruin when a judge fined him more than $350 million - the penalty could reach $450 million with interest - after ...

  25. The 7 things you need to know for Wednesday, February 21

    1. Donald Trump and his allies are comparing Alexei Navalny's plight to his own. What's happening: Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin's main political rival, died in prison last week ...

  26. Mother of George Floyd's Daughter Calls Tom Sandoval's Comparison ...

    Tom Sandoval's comparison between George Floyd's murder and his cheating scandal's not just drawing ire from fans ... it's also pissing off the mother of George's young daughter.. Roxie Washington ...

  27. Trump Breaks Silence on Navalny Death, but Doesn't Condemn Putin

    Feb. 19, 2024. Days after the death of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny was first reported, Donald J. Trump broke his silence in a social media post on Monday that barely mentioned ...

  28. Tom Sandoval Issues Apology After Comparing Scandoval to OJ Simpson

    Tom Sandoval has released a new statement following backlash on Tuesday (February 20).. The 40-year-old Vanderpump Rules reality star had a new interview with The New York Times drop that day, and ...

  29. Biden knocks Trump over Navalny comparison: 'Why does ...

    Rising: February 20, 2024. President Biden knocked former President Trump, his likely GOP rival in November, for his response to the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. "The ...