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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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how to do a compare and contrast essay

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

how to do a compare and contrast 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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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 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

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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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Walter Akolo is a freelance writer, internet marketer, trainer, and blogger for hire. He loves helping businesses increase their reach and conversion through excellent and engaging content. He has gotten millions of pageviews on his blog, FreelancerKenya, where he mentors writers. Check out his website walterakolo.com.

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  • Writing Tips

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay

  • 5-minute read
  • 9th March 2021

In a compare and contrast essay , you look at the similarities and differences between two subjects. How do you write one, though? Key steps include:

  • Pick two things to compare based on the assignment you were given.
  • Brainstorm the similarities and differences between your chosen subjects.
  • Choose a structure for your essay and plan how you will write it.
  • Write up your comparison and use evidence to support your argument.
  • Revise and proofread your essay to make sure it is perfect.

For more advice on each stage, check out our guide below.

1. Pick Two Subjects to Compare and Contrast

A compare and contrast assignment will ask you, unsurprisingly, to compare and contrast two things. In some cases, the assignment question will make this clear. For instance, if the assignment says “Compare how Mozart and Beethoven use melody,” you will have a very clear sense of what to write about!

Other times, you will have a choice of what to compare. In this case, you will want to pick two things that are similar enough to make a useful comparison.

For example, comparing Mozart and Beethoven makes sense because both are classical composers. This means there will be lots of points of comparison between them. But comparing Mozart to a Ferrari SF90 Stradale would just be confusing: one is a renowned composer and musician, the other is a high-end sports car, so they have very little in common that we could usefully compare.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

At the same time, the things you pick should be different enough that you can find points of contrast. Were you asked to compare the calorific content of two types of fast food, for example, it might not make sense to compare hamburgers and cheeseburgers as they are too similar. But you could compare hamburgers and pizzas since both are forms of fast food but they differ in other respects.

As such, if you need to pick the subjects of your essay, read your assignment question carefully and try to find two things that will produce a helpful comparison.

2. Brainstorm Their Similarities and Differences

The next step is to brainstorm similarities and differences between your chosen subjects. You can do this as a simple list, but you could also use a Venn diagram .

This is a set of overlapping circles, each of which represents one subject. You can then add characteristics to each circle, with anything your subjects have in common going in the overlapping bit in the middle.

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how to do a compare and contrast essay

Once you’ve listed characteristics, you’ll need to pick out the similarities and differences relevant to your essay. If you were assigned a question, use this to guide your choices. Otherwise, look for features that seem surprising or interesting and plan your essay around these. The key is to pick points of comparison that help us to understand each thing better, or where the similarities and differences show us something that we might not have expected or noticed otherwise.

3. Choose a Structure for Your Essay

As with any essay, you will want to start with a short introduction where you introduce your topic and what you will argue. Beyond this, most compare and contrast essays are structured in one of two ways. Decide which approach to take before you write your essay outline :

  • Divide by subject – Cover each subject in turn, looking at the key features you’ve identified in the previous step. You can then include a final section where you highlight what comparing the subjects tell us.
  • Divide by individual points – Break your essay down into a series of sections. Each section will then focus on one of the key features you’ve identified, explaining the similarities and differences between your chosen subjects.

For instance, if you were comparing two novels, you could write about each novel in turn and then compare them at the end. Alternatively, you could structure your essay so that each section covers an individual idea (e.g., one on structure, one on characters, one on language), looking at how each book uses these things.

In either case, you will want to end on a conclusion where you summarize what the comparison has shown us about the two subjects.

4. Use Supporting Evidence for Your Argument

It is important that you also back up your statements with supporting evidence. In some cases, this will simply involve pointing to the features of each subject that you’re discussing (e.g., citing specific parts of the novels you’re comparing).

However, you can also do extra research to back up your arguments. Were you comparing two countries’ economic performance, for example, you could use statistics from other studies or reports to show the similarities and differences.

5. Proofread Your Compare and Contrast Essay

Once you have a first draft of your compare and contrast essay, take a break. If you have time, leave it overnight. The aim is to come back to it with fresh eyes and reread it, looking for any areas you could improve. After this, you can redraft your essay to make sure your argument is clear, concise, and convincing.

It is also a good idea to have your essay proofread before submitting it. This will ensure your work is error free and help you get the marks you deserve.

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Compare & Contrast Essays How things are similar or different

Compare and contrast is a common form of academic writing, either as an essay type on its own, or as part of a larger essay which includes one or more paragraphs which compare or contrast. This page gives information on what a compare and contrast essay is , how to structure this type of essay, how to use compare and contrast structure words , and how to make sure you use appropriate criteria for comparison/contrast . There is also an example compare and contrast essay on the topic of communication technology, as well as some exercises to help you practice this area.

What are compare & contrast essays?

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how to do a compare and contrast essay

To compare is to examine how things are similar, while to contrast is to see how they differ. A compare and contrast essay therefore looks at the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences. This essay type is common at university, where lecturers frequently test your understanding by asking you to compare and contrast two theories, two methods, two historical periods, two characters in a novel, etc. Sometimes the whole essay will compare and contrast, though sometimes the comparison or contrast may be only part of the essay. It is also possible, especially for short exam essays, that only the similarities or the differences, not both, will be discussed. See the examples below.

  • Compare and contrast Newton's ideas of gravity with those proposed by Einstein ['compare and contrast' essay]
  • Examine how the economies of Spain and China are similar ['compare' only essay]
  • Explain the differences between Achaemenid Empire and Parthian Empire ['contrast' only essay]

There are two main ways to structure a compare and contrast essay, namely using a block or a point-by-point structure. For the block structure, all of the information about one of the objects being compared/contrasted is given first, and all of the information about the other object is listed afterwards. This type of structure is similar to the block structure used for cause and effect and problem-solution essays. For the point-by-point structure, each similarity (or difference) for one object is followed immediately by the similarity (or difference) for the other. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is easier to write, while the latter is generally clearer as it ensures that the similarities/differences are more explicit.

The two types of structure, block and point-by-point , are shown in the diagram below.

Compare and Contrast Structure Words

Compare and contrast structure words are transition signals which show the similarities or differences. Below are some common examples.

  • both... and...
  • not only... but also...
  • neither... nor...
  • just like (+ noun)
  • similar to (+ noun)
  • to be similar (to)
  • to be the same as
  • to be alike
  • to compare (to/with)
  • Computers can be used to communicate easily, for example via email. Similarly/Likewise , the mobile phone is a convenient tool for communication.
  • Both computers and mobile phones can be used to communicate easily with other people.
  • Just like the computer, the mobile phone can be used to communicate easily with other people.
  • The computer is similar to the mobile phone in the way it can be used for easy communication.
  • In contrast
  • In comparison
  • By comparison
  • On the other hand
  • to differ from
  • to be different (from)
  • to be dissimilar to
  • to be unlike
  • Computers, although increasingly small, are not always easy to carry from one place to another. However , the mobile phone can be carried with ease.
  • Computers are generally not very portable, whereas the mobile phone is.
  • Computers differ from mobile phones in their lack of portability.
  • Computers are unlike mobile phones in their lack of portability.

Criteria for comparison/contrast

When making comparisons or contrasts, it is important to be clear what criteria you are using. Study the following example, which contrasts two people. Here the criteria are unclear.

  • Aaron is tall and strong. In contrast , Bruce is handsome and very intelligent.

Although this sentence has a contrast transition , the criteria for contrasting are not the same. The criteria used for Aaron are height (tall) and strength (strong). We would expect similar criteria to be used for Bruce (maybe he is short and weak), but instead we have new criteria, namely appearance (handsome) and intelligence (intelligent). This is a common mistake for students when writing this type of paragraph or essay. Compare the following, which has much clearer criteria (contrast structure words shown in bold).

  • Aaron and Bruce differ in four ways. The first difference is height. Aaron is tall, while Bruce is short. A second difference is strength. Aaron is strong. In contrast , Bruce is weak. A third difference is appearance. Aaron, who is average looking, differs from Bruce, who is handsome. The final difference is intelligence. Aaron is of average intelligence. Bruce, on the other hand , is very intelligent.

Example essay

Below is a compare and contrast essay. This essay uses the point-by-point structure . Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. similarities, differences, and structure words. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary , as these repeat the comparisons and contrasts contained in the main body.

Title: There have been many advances in technology over the past fifty years. These have revolutionised the way we communicate with people who are far away. Compare and contrast methods of communication used today with those which were used in the past.

Before the advent of computers and modern technology, people communicating over long distances used traditional means such as letters and the telephone. Nowadays we have a vast array of communication tools which can complete this task, ranging from email to instant messaging and video calls. While the present and previous means of communication are similar in their general form , they differ in regard to their speed and the range of tools available . One similarity between current and previous methods of communication relates to the form of communication. In the past, both written forms such as letters were frequently used, in addition to oral forms such as telephone calls. Similarly , people nowadays use both of these forms. Just as in the past, written forms of communication are prevalent, for example via email and text messaging. In addition, oral forms are still used, including the telephone, mobile phone, and voice messages via instant messaging services. However , there are clearly many differences in the way we communicate over long distances, the most notable of which is speed. This is most evident in relation to written forms of communication. In the past, letters would take days to arrive at their destination. In contrast , an email arrives almost instantaneously and can be read seconds after it was sent. In the past, if it was necessary to send a short message, for example at work, a memo could be passed around the office, which would take some time to circulate. This is different from the current situation, in which a text message can be sent immediately. Another significant difference is the range of communication methods. Fifty years ago, the tools available for communicating over long distances were primarily the telephone and the letter. By comparison , there are a vast array of communication methods available today. These include not only the telephone, letter, email and text messages already mentioned, but also video conferences via software such as Skype or mobile phone apps such as WeChat, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. In conclusion, methods of communication have greatly advanced over the past fifty years. While there are some similarities, such as the forms of communication , there are significant differences, chiefly in relation to the speed of communication and the range of communication tools available . There is no doubt that technology will continue to progress in future, and the advanced tools which we use today may one day also become outdated.

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Below is a checklist for compare and contrast essays. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

There is a downloadable graphic organiser for brainstorming ideas for compare and contrast essays in the writing resources section.

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Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

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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.

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How to Start a Compare and Contrast Essay

Last Updated: January 23, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. 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 439,337 times.

Compare and contrast essays are often assigned to students because they promote critical thinking, analytical reasoning and organized writing. A compare and contrast essay should look at a subject in a new way, with fresh insight, using the similarities and the differences between two topics or two perspectives on one topic.

Sample Outline

how to do a compare and contrast essay

Brainstorming Your Topic

Step 1 Understand the structure of a compare and contrast essay.

  • If your instructor has already given you your topic, you may be contrasting two things that could go into the same category, but are different from each other. For example, cats and dogs are both animals, but they are different from each other in many ways. The pro-life view on abortion, and the pro-choice view on abortion could both fit under the category of a human rights issue, but they are two very distinct views or positions.

Step 2 Make a list of similarities and differences.

  • Try to write as many similarities and differences you can think of. For example: cats and dogs are both domesticated animals. But cats have different temperaments than dogs, and cats are known to be indoor pets, while dogs tend to need to be walked and played with outside on a constant basis.
  • Think about at least one or two meaningful differences and similarities between the two subjects. For example, a compare and contrast between abortion rights could lead to meaningful notes like: The pro-life stance views fetuses are full formed humans and are often based in religious beliefs, while the pro-choice stance views fetuses as undeveloped eggs and are often based in scientific beliefs.
  • To focus your list, choose categories (or possible supporting points for your paper) to classify the similarities and differences between the two subjects. For example, for the abortion rights topic, you may choose categories like: legal details, women's rights, scientific stance, and religious beliefs. You can then separate each item on the list into these categories.

Step 3 Create a Venn diagram of your topic.

  • Once you are done listing 10-15 differences and 5-7 similarities, circle the most important items in each list. Then, match at least three opposites from one circle to the other circle.
  • Review the list and look for three different categories that describe these traits. For example, for the abortion rights topic, you may have “scientific studies of the fetus” on the pro-choice side, and “belief in life of the fetus” on the pro-life side. One possible category could then be the debate of the life of a fetus.

Step 4 Answer the 5 W's and H questions.

  • If you're compare and contrasting two historical periods or events, you may ask: When did they occur (the dates and the duration)? What happened or changed during each event? Why are they significant? Who were the important people involved? How did the events occur, and what consequences did they have later in history?
  • If you're compare and contrasting two ideas or theories, you may ask: What were they about? How did they originate? Who created them? What is the central focus, claim, or goal of each theory? How do the theories apply to situations/people/things, etc.? What kind of evidence is used to support each theory?
  • If you're compare and contrasting two pieces of art, you may ask: What does each piece of art describe or depict? What is their tone or mood? What themes do they address? Who created them? When were they created? How do the creators of the artworks describe their own work? Why do you think the artworks were created as they were?
  • If you're compare and contrasting two people, you may ask: Where is each person from? How old are they? What, if anything, are they known for? How do they identify themselves in terms of gender, race, class, etc? Do the two people have any relationship to each other? What does each person do? Why is each person interesting? What are the defining features of each person?

Step 5 Note any gaps in your knowledge or research.

  • Your instructor may also ask for a discussion of more than one similarity and difference between the two topics or two perspectives. Identify any gaps in your knowledge and prepare to do research so you can better compare and contrast the two topics in your essay.

Creating an Outline

Step 1 Compose your thesis...

  • Your thesis should note the key similarities and differences of both subjects. For example: “Dogs and cats are both seen as ideal, domesticated pets, but their temperaments and breeding set them apart.”
  • Your thesis should also be able to answer the question, “So what? Why should anyone care about the positives and the negatives of owning a cat or a dog?” A reader may also wonder why you chose to look at cats and dogs, and not other domesticated pets like birds, reptiles, or rabbits. Your thesis statement is much stronger if you address these questions, and a stronger thesis can lead to a stronger essay.
  • The revised thesis may look like: “Dogs and cats are both considered ideal, domesticated pets, and prove more popular than other domesticated animals like birds or rabbits, but the low maintenance and particular temperament of cats makes them better pets for a variety of households.” A more concise thesis, which allows for a more open discussion of both options, may look like: “Both cats and dogs make excellent domesticated pets, but an appropriate choice depends on the pet owner's lifestyle, finances, and living accommodations.”

Step 2 Organize your paper by the block method.

  • Introduction: Introduce the general topic, then introduce the two specific topics. End with your thesis, which addresses what is going to be covered in the essay.
  • Leads into Aspect 1: Lifestyle, with at least two details. For example, how cats do not have to watched during the day, and are easier to get care if the owner travels or is often not home.
  • Leads into Aspect 2: Cost, with at least two details. For example, how food and healthcare are less expensive for cats and how cats are less likely to cause property damage to the owner's home.
  • Leads into Aspect 3: Living accommodations, with at least two details. For example, how cats do not take up a lot of space and they are less intrusive as they do not require daily walks or constant play.
  • End the paragraph with a transition sentence.
  • Body paragraph 2 will follow the same structure, with three Aspects and two supporting details for each aspect.
  • Body paragraph 3 can follow the same structure as Body paragraph 2 and 3. Or it can be a paragraph that develops the comparison made in the previous two paragraphs. You can use scientific data, crowd sourced feedback, or a personal experience. For example, you may have been in a position where you had to compare and contrast adopting a dog or a cat and made your decision based on your lifestyle, finances, and living situation. This could serve as a personal experience to back up your previous arguments.
  • Conclusion: Contains a summary of your main points, a restating of your thesis, an evaluation of your analysis and any future developments that may sway your compare and contrast to one topic over the other.

Step 3 Use a point by point structure.

  • Introduction: Introduce the general topic, then introduce the two specific topics. End with your thesis, which addresses what is going to covered in the essay.
  • Leads into Topic 1, Aspect 1: Cats, with two details supporting cats in the argument. For example, how cats do not have to watched during the day, and are easier to get care if the owner travels or is often not home.
  • Leads into Topic 2, Aspect 1: Dogs, with two details contrasting dogs to the previous argument. For example, how dogs are pack animals and shouldn't be left alone for long periods of time, and how it can be difficult to find care for a dog when the owner is away.
  • Ends with a transition sentence.
  • Body paragraph 2 will follow the same structure, with a discussion of Topic 1 and Topic 2 in relation to Aspect 2, for example: “Cats are less expensive to own and care for.” There should be two supporting details for each topic.
  • Body paragraph 3 will follow the same structure, with a discussion of Topic 1 and Topic 2 in relation to Aspect 3, for example: “Cats need less special house accommodations than dogs.” There should be two supporting details for each topic.

Writing an Introduction

Step 1 Be assertive and clear.

  • You should also avoid announcing your intentions in a straightforward and formal way. For example, skip statements like “In this paper, I will” or “The purpose of this essay is to”.
  • Instead, your reader should be able to perceive the purpose of your essay through the first two sentences in your beginning paragraph.

Step 2 Create a hook for your first sentence.

  • An interesting or surprising example: This could be a personal experience of when a cat proved to be a better pet than a dog, or a scientific study that shows the differences between cats and dogs.
  • A provocative quotation: This could be from a source you used for your essay or one that feels relevant to your topic.
  • A vivid anecdote: An anecdote is a very short story that carries moral or symbolic weight. Think of an anecdote that might be a poetic or powerful way to start your essay. You can also look through your research for your essay for any note worthy anecdotes.
  • A thought provoking question: Think of a question that will get your reader thinking and engaged in your topic. For example: “Did you always wish you had a cat but ended up with a dog when you were growing up?”

Step 3 Revise your introduction once you complete the essay.

  • The writing process can be an important way to organize your ideas, think through certain points, and refine your thoughts. Writing or revising the introduction once you are done your essay will ensure the introduction matches the body of your essay.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Ask a friend, advisor or classmate to read your introduction and thesis. Having someone provide feedback before you get into the body of your compare and contrast essay can help you ensure you have a well written, thorough and purposeful start to your paper. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://www.kellogg.edu/upload/eng151/chapter/writing-for-success-comparecontrast/index.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/comparing-and-contrasting/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/comparing-and-contrasting/
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/compare-contrast/
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/10-7-comparison-and-contrast/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/introductions/

About This Article

Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA

To start a compare and contrast essay, start by making a list of similarities and differences between your subjects. Once you have a clearer idea of how your subjects work in relation to each other, you can work on your introduction. Think about ways to hook or grab your reader’s attention with your opening, like giving a surprising or interesting fact or a vivid anecdote. You can also ask a thought-provoking question or use a provocative quotation. Then, introduce your general topic. Once you give your reader a bit of context, you can discuss your two specific subjects in a bit more detail before stating your thesis. Your thesis should note the main similarities and differences between both subjects. For example, “Dogs and cats are both seen as ideal domestic pets, but their temperaments and breeding set them apart.” To learn how to organize your compare and contrast essay, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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  • 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

Comparison and Contrast Guide

Comparison and Contrast Guide

About this Interactive

Related resources.

This interactive guide provides an introduction to the basic characteristics and resources that are typically used when students compose comparison and contrast essays. The Comparison and Contrast Guide includes an overview, definitions and examples. The Organizing a Paper section includes details on whole-to-whole (block), point-by-point, and similarities-to-differences structures. In addition, the Guide explains how graphic organizers are used for comparison and contrast, provides tips for using transitions between ideas in comparison and contrast essays, and includes a checklist, which matches an accompanying rubric .

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This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.

Students explore picture books to identify the characteristics of four types of conflict. They then write about a conflict they have experienced and compare it to a conflict from literature.

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How to write a compare and contrast essay, by luisa brenton.

As a student, you’ve got to write a lot of different essays and writing assignments, which all have different requirements and expectations. To get the best grade possible, it is important that you understand these differences and make use of them as best you can. In this way, you don’t spend time barking up the wrong tree.

Now, it would be great if we could deal with each and every essay expectations. That would make for a rather unwieldy blog post. So, instead, here we’re going to look at one of the most popular forms, which is the compare and contrast essay.

Recognizing the compare and contrast essay

Often they’re not actually that hard to spot. Some will even have the word ‘compare’ and ‘contrast’ in the title. For example, you might have ‘compare two romantic poets and explore the differences between them’ or ‘contrast the first and the Second World War and the political reasons for them’. Other words that you might see are such words as ‘differences’, ‘similarities’ or other words like that.

But it doesn’t always work out that easily. Sometimes you’re going to find questions that are far more subtle. For example, ‘take a major literary theme and explore how Virginia Wolfe and F Scott Fitzgerald dealt with them’ or ‘How does liberty evolve from the 15 th  to the 16 th  century?’

Yet, the idea though they might not use the words ‘compare’ and ‘contrast’ you can still find it between the lines.

Representing differences and similarities visually

When you’ve been asked to discuss the similarities or differences between two things (or three) then the best thing you can do is draw a Venn diagram. You know the one I’m talking about – where you draw as many circles as there are concepts (e.g. first world war and second world war) where they each overlap all the other circles?

Then you write the differences in the areas where the circles don’t overlap and the similarities in the areas where they do. In this way, you’ll have an easy time of knowing what the differences and similarities are.

Of course, don’t get carried away. Remember that you’re writing for a specific class, which means that you’re supposed to write about areas that fit within the structure thereof.

One trick that might work if you’re struggling to know what’s relevant is to include another circle in your diagram so that you can write those things that fall within the scope of the class inside of that circle and those that don’t outside of it.

Note that this strategy works a lot better if you’re only asked to compare two things, as when you’re asked to compare more it can get very confusing very quickly as there are just too many circles.

Decide what to write about

The next thing that you’ll need to decide on is what you’re going to include in your essay. The first things to focus on is what is absolutely essential to the argument you’re going to make. These points will need to be included no matter what.

If that alone does not fill up your essay, however, then it’s time to pull out a point system. Give things a score from one to five (or ten, if you’ve got a lot of topics and need the extra differentiation).

Things to base your score on:

  • Is it relevant to the class?
  • Is it interesting and informative?
  • Does it fit into the argument that you’re going to make or is it a tangent?
  • Is it a topic that the teacher or professor seems particularly interested in?
  • How obvious is it? (The more obvious, the less the need to include it)

Time to formulate your structure

The first thing that you want to do at this point is formulated your thesis. You probably already had a central argument outline above (otherwise you would have struggled to complete the last section) but now it’s time to put it down in words.

Don’t skip this part! Often you can realize where you’re making errors in your reasoning simply by writing down what you’re trying to argue. Also, always answer the most important question of all about your thesis and that is ‘why should I care about this particular question? Why is it relevant?’ That question will need to be answered somewhere in your essay.

That done, it’s time to create a structure. Return to your Venn diagram and take the pieces that you’ve ranked highest (as well as those that you decided are central to the question and your argument) and put them in order.

Make sure you start out with a whopper of an argument – something that’s engaging and interesting so that you draw in the reader. Take your second strongest argument and put it right at the end (this is important due to the peak and end effect, which states that we remember the end of things better than what comes in the middle).

Start writing

Now you’ve got everything worked out, all you’ve got to do is fill in the gaps. Now remember to use clear paragraphs and well-defined sentences. Also, remember to focus on good transitions, so that people can spot when you’re moving on from one area to another.

Now, if this is a struggle, don’t stress out too much. There are plenty of tools available to help you online – from other websites that deal with this kind of thing in more detail, to services that can help you with the process (check out the best sites for writing help).

And remember, if you’re struggling at this point, that doesn’t mean you always will. Essay writing (actually all writing) is something that you get better at over time, particularly if you pay attention to what your professors and teachers are saying and not just the grades they give you.

So with those thoughts, you should be much better prepared to deal with the contrast and comparison essay.  Let me know how it goes.

Luisa Brenton is an ex-marketer, present writer, and a future professor at the Chicago University. She has been working as an educational blogger for top websites.You can contact her on Twitter.

One comment on “How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay”

Hi Luisa, I was searching for the tips to write an perfect essay for my college and found this. Thanks for the wonderful tips, will apply it and let you know the results.

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34 Compelling Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

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

how to do a compare and contrast 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..”

#2 Democracy vs Authoritarianism Essay

democracy vs authoritarianism essay

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.”

#3 Apples vs Oranges Essay

1190 Words | 5 Pages | 0 References

(Level: 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade)

apples vs oranges essay

Thesis Statement: “While apples and oranges are both popular and nutritious fruits, they differ significantly in their taste profiles, nutritional benefits, cultural symbolism, and culinary applications.”

#4 Nature vs Nurture Essay

1525 Words | 5 Pages | 11 References

(Level: High School and College)

nature vs nurture essay

Thesis Statement: “The purpose of this essay is to examine and elucidate the complex and interconnected roles of genetic inheritance (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) in shaping human development across various domains such as physical traits, personality, behavior, intelligence, and abilities.”

#5 Dogs vs Cats Essay

1095 Words | 5 Pages | 7 Bibliographic Sources

(Level: 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade)

Thesis Statement: “This essay explores the distinctive characteristics, emotional connections, and lifestyle considerations associated with owning dogs and cats, aiming to illuminate the unique joys and benefits each pet brings to their human companions.”

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?

compare and contrast essay pack promotional image

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

Read Next: Process Essay Examples

compare and contrast examples and definition

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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]

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Humanities LibreTexts

8.6: Essay Type- Comparing and Contrasting Literature

  • Last updated
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  • Page ID 101138

  • Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

Compare and Contrast Essay Basics

The Compare and Contrast Essay is a literary analysis essay, but, instead of examining one work, it examines two or more works. These works must be united by a common theme or thesis statement. For example, while a literary analysis essay might explore the significance of ghosts in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, a compare/contrast essay might explore the significance of the supernatural in Hamlet and Macbeth .

Literary Analysis Thesis Statement:

While Horatio seems to think the ghost of Old Hamlet is a demon trying to lead Hamlet to death, and Gertrude and Claudius think it is a figment of Hamlet's insanity, Hamlet's status as an unreliable narrator and the ghost actually symbolizes the oppression of Catholics during Shakespeare's time period.

Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement:

The unreliable narrators paired with the ghosts in both Hamlet and Macbeth symbolize the oppression of Catholics in Shakespeare's time period.

Essay Genre Expectations

  • Use first-person pronouns sparingly (you, me, we, our)
  • Avoid colloquialisms
  • Spell out contractions
  • Use subject-specific terminology, such as naming literary devices
  • Texts: two or more
  • Avoid summary. Aim for analysis and interpretation
  • MLA formatting and citations

Organization

While the literary analysis essay follows a fairly simple argumentative essay structure, the compare and contrast essay is slightly more complicated. It might be arranged by:

  • Literary work (the block method)
  • Topics/subtopics (the point-by-point method)

In general, ensure each paragraph supports the thesis statement and that both literary works receive equal attention. Include as many body paragraphs as needed to build your argument.

First Option for Organization: The Block Method

In this first option for organization, you will need to discuss both literary works in the introduction and thesis statement, but then the body of the paper will be divided in half. The first half of the body paragraphs should focus on one literary work, while the second half of the body paragraphs should focus on the other literary work.

  • Background of topic
  • Background of works related to topic
  • Thesis Statement
  • Topic sentence
  • Introduction of evidence
  • Evidence from the first literary work
  • Explanation of evidence
  • Analysis of evidence
  • Evidence from the second literary work
  • Restatement of thesis in new words
  • Summary of essay arguments

Second Option for Organization: The Point-by-Point Method

With this second option for organization, you may decide to write about both literary works within the same body paragraph every time, or you may choose to consistently alternate back and forth between the literary works in separate body paragraphs.

  • Evidence from both literary works

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

Read our research on: Immigration & Migration | Podcasts | Election 2024

Regions & Countries

Race and lgbtq issues in k-12 schools, what teachers, teens and the u.s. public say about current curriculum debates.

Demonstrators outside a school board meeting in Glendale, California, on June 20, 2023. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand how public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.

The bulk of the analysis in this report is based on an online survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, 2023. The teachers surveyed are members of RAND’s American Teacher Panel, a nationally representative panel of public school K-12 teachers recruited through MDR Education. Survey data is weighted to state and national teacher characteristics to account for differences in sampling and response to ensure they are representative of the target population.

For the questions for the general public, we surveyed 5,029 U.S. adults from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16, 2023. The adults surveyed are members of the Ipsos KnowledgePanel, a nationally representative online survey panel. Panel members are randomly recruited through probability-based sampling, and households are provided with access to the Internet and hardware if needed. To ensure that the results of this survey reflect a balanced cross section of the nation, the data is weighted to match the U.S. adult population by gender, age, education, race and ethnicity and other categories.

For questions for teens, we conducted an online survey of 1,453 U.S. teens from Sept. 26 to Oct. 23, 2023, through Ipsos. Ipsos recruited the teens via their parents, who were part of its KnowledgePanel. The survey was weighted to be representative of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 who live with their parents by age, gender, race and ethnicity, household income, and other categories. The survey on teens was reviewed and approved by an external institutional review board (IRB), Advarra, an independent committee of experts specializing in helping to protect the rights of research participants.

Here are the questions used for this report , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

Throughout the report, references to White, Black and Asian adults include those who are not Hispanic and identify as only one race. Hispanics are of any race. The views and experiences of teachers and teens who are Asian American or part of other racial and ethnic groups are not analyzed separately in this report due to sample limitations. Data for these groups is incorporated into the general population figures throughout the report.

All references to party affiliation include those who lean toward that party. Republicans include those who identify as Republicans and those who say they lean toward the Republican Party. Democrats include those who identify as Democrats and those who say they lean toward the Democratic Party.

Political leaning of school districts is based on whether the majority of those residing in the school district voted for Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Amid national debates about what schools are teaching , we asked public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public how they see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.

A pie chart showing that about 4 in 10 teachers say current debates about K-12 education have had a negative impact on their job.

A sizeable share of teachers (41%) say these debates have had a negative impact on their ability to do their job. Just 4% say these debates have had a positive impact, while 53% say the impact has been neither positive nor negative or that these debates have had no impact.

And 71% of teachers say teachers themselves don’t have enough influence over what’s taught in public schools in their area.

In turn, a majority of teachers (58%) say their state government has too much influence over this. And more say the federal government, the local school board and parents have too much influence than say they don’t have enough.

Most of the findings in this report come from a survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted Oct. 17-Nov. 14, 2023, using the RAND American Teacher Panel. 1 The survey looks at teachers’ views on:

  • Race and LGBTQ issues in the classroom ( Chapter 1 )
  • Current debates over what schools should be teaching and the role of key groups ( Chapter 2 )

It follows a fall 2022 survey of K-12 parents that explored similar topics.

This report also includes some findings from a survey of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 ( Chapter 3 ) and a survey of U.S. adults ( Chapter 4 ). For details about these surveys, refer to the Methodology section of this report. Among the key findings:

  • 38% of teens say they feel comfortable when topics related to racism or racial inequality come up in class (among those who say these topics have come up). A smaller share (29%) say they feel comfortable when topics related to sexual orientation or gender identity come up.
  • Among the American public , more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues than say the same about topics related to race (54% vs. 34%).

What do teachers think students should learn about slavery and gender identity?

A diverging bar chart showing that most teachers think students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects Black Americans today.

We asked public K-12 teachers what they think students should learn in school about two topics in particular:

  • Whether the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today.
  • Whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex at birth.

For these questions, elementary, middle and high school teachers were asked about elementary, middle and high school students, respectively.

The legacy of slavery

Most teachers (64%) say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today.

About a quarter (23%) say students should learn that slavery is part of American history but no longer affects the position of Black people in American society. Just 8% say students shouldn’t learn about this topic in school at all.

Majorities of elementary, middle and high school teachers say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still has an impact on the lives of Black Americans.

Gender identity

A diverging bar chart showing that most elementary school teachers say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity at school.

When it comes to teaching about gender identity – specifically whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex assigned at birth – half of public K-12 teachers say students shouldn’t learn about this in school.

A third of teachers think students should learn that someone can be a boy or a girl even if that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

A smaller share (14%) say students should learn that whether someone is a boy or a girl is determined by their sex at birth.

Views differ among elementary, middle and high school teachers. But teachers across the three levels are more likely to say students should learn that a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth than to say students should learn gender is determined by sex at birth.

Most elementary school teachers (62%) say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school. This is much larger than the shares of middle and high school teachers who say the same (45% and 35%).

What parents and teens say

Parents of K-12 students are more divided on what their children should learn in school about these topics.

In the 2022 survey , 49% of parents said they’d rather their children learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today, while 42% said they’d rather their children learn that slavery no longer affects Black Americans.

When it comes to gender identity, 31% of parents said they’d rather their children learn that gender can be different from sex at birth. An identical share said they would rather their children learn gender is determined by sex at birth. Another 37% of parents said their children shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.

Teens, like parents, are more divided than teachers on these questions. About half of teens (48%) say they’d rather learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black Americans today. Four-in-ten would prefer to learn that slavery no longer affects Black Americans.

And teens are about evenly divided when it comes to what they prefer to learn about gender identity. A quarter say they’d rather learn that a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth; 26% would prefer to learn that gender is determined by sex at birth. About half (48%) say they shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.

For more on teens’ views about what they prefer to learn in school about each of these topics, read Chapter 3 of this report.

Should parents be able to opt their children out of learning about certain topics?

Most public K-12 teachers (60%) say parents should not be able to opt their children out of learning about racism or racial inequality in school, even if the way these topics are taught conflicts with the parents’ beliefs. A quarter say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about these topics.

In contrast, more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (48%) than say parents should not be able to do this (33%).

On topics related to both race and LGBTQ issues, elementary and middle school teachers are more likely than high school teachers to say parents should be able to opt their children out.

How teachers’ views compare with the public’s views

A diverging bar chart showing that 54% of Americans say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues.

Like teachers, Americans overall are more likely to say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (54%) than to say they should be able to opt their children out of learning about racism or racial inequality (34%).

Across both issues, Americans overall are somewhat more likely than teachers to say parents should be able to opt their children out.

For more on the public’s views, read Chapter 4 of this report.

How often do topics related to race and LGBTQ issues come up in the classroom?

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that topics related to racism and racial inequality come up in the classroom more often than LGBTQ issues.

Most teachers who’ve been teaching for more than a year (68%) say the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity rarely or never came up in their classroom in the 2022-23 school year. About one-in-five (21%) say these topics came up sometimes, and 8% say they came up often or extremely often.

Topics related to racism or racial inequality come up more frequently. A majority of teachers (56%) say these topics came up at least sometimes in their classroom, with 21% saying they came up often or extremely often.

These topics are more likely to come up in secondary school than in elementary school classrooms.

How do teachers’ views differ by party?

As is the case among parents of K-12 students and the general public, teachers’ views on how topics related to race and LGBTQ issues should play out in the classroom differ by political affiliation.

  • What students should learn about slavery: 85% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning teachers say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today. This compares with 35% of Republican and Republican-leaning teachers who say the same.

A diverging bar chart showing that teachers’ views on parents opting their children out of learning about race, LGBTQ issues differ widely by party.

  • What students should learn about gender identity: Democratic teachers are far more likely than Republican teachers to say students should learn that a person’s gender can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth (53% vs. 5%). Most Republican teachers (69%) say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.
  • Parents opting their children out of learning about these topics: 80% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues, compared with 30% of Democratic teachers. And while 47% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about racism and racial inequality, just 11% of Democratic teachers say this.

A majority of public K-12 teachers (58%) identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. About a third (35%) identify with or lean toward the GOP. Americans overall are more evenly divided: 47% are Democrats or Democratic leaners, and 45% are Republicans or Republican leaners .

  • For details, refer to the Methodology section of the report. ↩

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Table of contents, ‘back to school’ means anytime from late july to after labor day, depending on where in the u.s. you live, among many u.s. children, reading for fun has become less common, federal data shows, most european students learn english in school, for u.s. teens today, summer means more schooling and less leisure time than in the past, about one-in-six u.s. teachers work second jobs – and not just in the summer, most popular.

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  • February 23, 2024   •   51:24 Your Questions on Open Conventions, a Gaza Schism and Biden’s Chances
  • February 21, 2024   •   1:02:55 Here’s How an Open Democratic Convention Would Work
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Your Questions on Open Conventions, a Gaza Schism and Biden’s Chances

Weighing the risks of an open convention..

Produced by ‘The Ezra Klein Show’

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App , Apple , Spotify , Amazon Music , Google or wherever you get your podcasts .]

A transcript of the full episode is available here:

Ezra Klein: Last week I did an audio essay arguing that Joe Biden right now does not seem up for the campaign he is going to have to run. He is behind in the polls. He is skipping things like Super Bowl interviews, having trouble in press conferences and that if things don’t change, this is not going to go well. And that there is another option for Democrats, that Biden could step aside and Democrats could do what parties have done many times before and go to a convention.

Then we had Elaine Kamarck on the show to talk about how the convention would work. And this is something I said we would also do in this little series, which is take questions on it. And we got a lot of them. We got thousands of responses to the initial audio essay.

Our great senior editor, Claire Gordon, has joined me here to sort of be the audience representative and make sure I’m actually answering questions. So let’s jump into it. Where do we begin?

Gordon: Yeah, Ezra, you threw a bit of a grenade into the world, and now it is time to take a little bit of fire. And our first question is from MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes.

Voice-mail recording: I mean, I think a lot of people share this acute sense of Biden’s campaigning ability, like his candidate quality, to be significantly diminished, even if they think he’s not diminished in the actual office. But my big question about all of these scenarios — and there’s been many about Biden not, you know, being the nominee — is: It seems like there’s one person who gets to decide if Joe Biden is going to run for president again, and that’s Joe Biden. And I can’t imagine a scenario in which he decides that, absent some medical situation that happens. So I can’t get past that first step, so I’m just curious how you think about it.

Klein: Thank you, Chris. So one way to say what I’m saying in that audio essay is, I’m making a prediction about the campaign. I am saying that if you look at where Joe Biden is now, he’s losing. He’s losing in the polls, and typically, Donald Trump overperforms his polling, so that’s a pretty dangerous place for Biden to be. And his early speeches are not looking great to me. His performance in press conferences has been, like, frankly, disastrous. He skipped the Super Bowl interview. I am not seeing a kind of energy and aggression in that campaign that makes it look to me like Biden is going to be able to close the gap. So that’s my concern.

One thing that could happen is I could just be proven completely wrong. Maybe Biden shakes off the campaigning cobwebs, gets out there, gives a fiery State of the Union, gives really strong speeches, gives more interviews, gives strong pressers. Maybe he climbs a bit in the polls, the paid media advertising campaign begins to look really good, and I come to look really alarmist, my audio essay looks ridiculous, Joe Biden wins by five, and everybody says I’m an idiot. And, like, that would be totally fine. That would be a great outcome to this.

But it could go the other way, too. Over the next three or four months, Joe Biden could look worse. He could freeze out on the campaign trail in a significant way or have some moment that reads to people like really profound confusion. He could be, in an effort to keep that from happening, kept in even more of a bubble by his staff. The State of the Union could go poorly or just be very low energy or something. He could give interviews that go badly — right? — could sit for some things, and it just goes disastrously.

And he could be slipping in the polls. When I look at the polling averages right now, I see him down by one to two points. If he’s down by three to four in late May, that’s going to look really scary to Democrats.

And then, of course, there’s the things he cannot control. He could have a serious health event. That’s a possibility, too.

So if any of that happens, there’s going to be more pressure from inside the party, more pressure even from the people directly around him for him not to run. Absolutely none of what I am saying here — forget animus for Biden. I like the guy. I think he’s a deeply honorable person. I think he has done a great job. I think he’s been committed to this work for his entire adult life. I think highly of him.

And I think that if he or the people who he trusts and loves around him are looking at this in May or June and it looks like they are going to lose, I would like to believe he will listen to them. I think there is some chance he could come to the view himself.

To me, in all of this, what is important is that Democrats feel they have this other option if they need it. In four months, if Joe Biden looks great, they don’t need to think about this ever again. But if in four months Joe Biden is looking bad, if it is looking like he is going to lose to Donald Trump, going to create a second Trump presidency, with everything we know about that guy, well, then I think it’s really important Democrats don’t lapse into a kind of white-knuckled fatalism, believing that it’s Biden or nothing and all they can do is stay on this train that seems like it is derailing.

That’s why I want people thinking about how a convention would look and feel right now. Running Joe Biden is a risk. A convention is a risk. These risks come with upside potential and downside potential. And life is an endless process of risk management. Like, I would like to tell you — I would like to tell myself — there is some way to not have to play the probabilities here, to bet on this with house money and be assured of a win.

But nobody has that, right? I wish. Like, it would be nice. I would like to not worry about this election at all. I don’t like covering elections. I find them too stressful.

But Joe Biden’s not at 56. If he were, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He’s at, you know, 38, 39 in favorability and a couple of points behind Donald Trump in the polls. And so people need to be thinking about what happens if that continues to deteriorate.

Gordon: So you don’t think it necessarily makes sense for Biden to drop out now but a month from now, two months from now? It’s a wait and see?

Klein: I wouldn’t say it makes sense. Like Chris, I don’t think he will drop out now. I don’t think the situation is dire enough. I don’t think the people around him are going to come to him and make that argument. But that’s going to be the thing that is playing out over the next four months. If things look worse four months from now than they do now, there’s going to be real panic.

I was looking at the 538 page for presidential approval ratings. And if you scroll down that page, they compare the current president — Joe Biden in this case — with other presidents at this point in their term. Obama’s favorability was way higher than Biden’s. It was almost 10 points higher. Donald Trump’s favorability was higher than Joe Biden’s at this point, and Donald Trump lost the election. You could just go right down the list. Bill Clinton — way above Joe Biden right now. Jimmy Carter was above Joe Biden right now.

So Biden is polling at a place that should have people worried. Approval ratings aren’t everything, but if they don’t start turning around and he is behind Donald Trump — I mean, remember, in every election in which we have seen him run, Donald Trump has outperformed his polling. He was quite a lot behind Hillary Clinton, quite a lot behind Joe Biden, at least in key states, and he did better than that in every election we have seen him in.

So a situation where Biden is actually behind Donald Trump — I mean, I assume the Democratic Party really does not want Donald Trump to win. Maybe I’m wrong about that. But if they see him on a path to winning, I have to assume things are going to change in their minds and, again, potentially in Joe Biden’s himself.

Gordon: So we did an episode a couple of months ago about how the polls this far out don’t matter. And you’re saying that at a certain point, they start mattering.

Klein: Yeah, we’re no longer at the point where polls are completely nonpredictive.

Gordon: All right, on to our next question. And we’ve got lots of questions coming up about the strategic risks of a convention and the relative strengths of different candidates. But this one is partly about strategy but also about the principle of the thing.

Voice-mail recording: Hi, Ezra. Longtime listener, first-time caller. I couldn’t help but think: Isn’t this — as in, choosing a new presidential candidate at the convention — isn’t that whole thing a little bit undemocratic? Which is, like, the Democratic Party’s whole thing right now is, like, “We have to save democracy.”

Klein: I think it’s a great question. And let me answer it on two levels. So one is the very specific level right now, which is the scenario I’m describing. The only scenario of a convention I can imagine is one in which Joe Biden himself drops out. If Biden gives a sorrowful but determined speech in June saying that he has come to the conclusion that it doesn’t serve the country for him to run again, that’s not going to be Democratic elders making some weird move. There’s going to be a convention process because there will have to be a convention process. And I think people will get that. They will have seen Joe Biden make this decision that led to the convention. So that is a specific answer.

But I also want to give a general one, which is that I don’t really buy the convention is less democratic than a primary. Take this primary. If you look at polling throughout it, most Democrats say they did not want Biden to run again. They did not want that in 2022; they did not want that in 2023. There’s a CNN poll back in September. There’s been all this talk, like, the media has made Joe Biden’s age into an issue recently. But this is September. This is not when it was getting a ton of coverage. Two-thirds of Democratic-leaning voters said they did not want Joe Biden running again.

But the party pressure was such that no major Democrat challenged him. You had Dean Phillips, who was a Minnesota congressman with no national profile, and his challenge is, I think, a move of a lot of political courage. But that’s not the person Democrats are looking to elect. You have Marianne Williamson.

But the primary was not Democratic. People were not given a lot of options. The party very tightly structured who is going to be in the field. And so even though Democrats were saying in poll after poll after poll, “We would like options. We are not comfortable with this campaign,” they weren’t given any of those options.

This is something that I ended up talking about a little bit with Elaine Kamarck on the show a few days ago, which is, conventions are representative democracy, and primaries are direct democracy. And both have a problem. Representative democracy, when you’re turning things over to the representatives, well, you might have chosen such and such governor or such and such senator, but maybe they’re not doing a good job representing you. Maybe your representative has diverged from your interests, your values, whatever.

But the problem with primaries is that very few people vote. This is always a problem with direct democracy. Direct democracy is often nonrepresentative because you have 5 percent, 7 percent, 11 percent, 19 percent of the electorate coming out and that part of the electorate is not a normal part of the electorate. Right? The people who are choosing to vote in primaries are very highly informed, very highly ideological, comparatively. They’re mobilized through certain kinds of organizations in a different way.

A lot of Americans are independents, and they functionally have no choice over who the two parties run in many, many, many states, even though how they vote ends up deciding who wins. So whatever we have right now, I would not call it highly small-d democratic.

I’ll also say the primaries, to me, often don’t end up making the most strategic decisions. Just look over the Republican side. It is still my view that no matter how badly Ron DeSantis did in the campaign, he would have been a stronger general election candidate for the Republicans than Donald Trump is. If I were betting money on a DeSantis-Biden matchup versus a Trump-Biden matchup, to me, Trump-Biden remains something close to even odds, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less on that for Joe Biden, depending on the day. I think DeSantis would win, and I think Nikki Haley would win.

So primaries, again, they’re weird. The people voting in them are weird. It’s not that many people, and they are voting based on things that are not strategic. In theory, at least, conventions are making more strategic decisions and taking in a broader range of information but probably are not as good at judging charisma and enthusiasm.

So, I mean, you can take your pick of which of those you like, but I’ve just never bought this idea that the primaries are really democratic.

Gordon: So this next question was emailed in from Jeremy G. He wrote that he believes “an underappreciated achievement of President Biden has been his ability to bridge the differences between moderate, liberal and progressive Democrats and maintain a modicum of unity in the midst of Republican disunity.”

You spoke to this in the beginning of your audio essay. Do you have concerns that a contested convention would just turn into open warfare between the moderates and the progressives that could end up weakening turnout among the faction that loses?

Klein: I very much agree this has been an underappreciated strength of Joe Biden going back to 2020. It’s something, as you say, that I talked about in that first piece. I don’t think it is his strength now. So I guess something I would say is I’m not more or less worried about that now at a convention than in a Biden-runs-again scenario. And the primary reason is that there’s a tremendous amount of disillusionment with Biden on the left now because of Gaza. So the thing that Biden has done so well to bridge gaps, he’s not being able to do.

But even putting that aside, what’s holding the Democratic Party together right now isn’t Joe Biden; it’s Donald Trump. I suspect the Democratic convention would be very focused on the dangers Trump poses, very focused on the plan for beating him.

And that’s also, of course, the Biden campaign’s plan for managing the disagreements inside the Democratic Party and the lack of enthusiasm for Biden himself. The Biden team’s theory of this whole thing is countermobilization — that Donald Trump is going to be out there, he’s going to be getting a lot more press coverage and, in doing that, he’s going to mobilize the Democratic base, kind of heal any schisms, get over the disillusionment.

I do think it’s important to say that any choice Democrats make here is a choice of risk. With Biden right now, the risk to me does not feel like it is controllable. You can’t stop him from having these senior moments on the trail except by keeping him off the trail.

With a convention, the risk is of a type the Democrats can make strategic decisions about. They can balance a ticket with a moderate and progressive. They can think hard about the states the ticket comes from. They can use the platform and the policy agenda to smooth out disagreements. That’s how conventions have worked since time immemorial.

And then — and I do think this is important to my thinking here — the risk to the upside seems higher to me in a convention. I don’t think Biden has that much likelihood of really changing how people feel about him this year, at least not unless he proves himself to be a different kind of campaigner than we’re currently seeing.

But a sufficiently exciting ticket might be able to mobilize Democrats through enthusiasm for new leadership, not just opposition to Trump. So you might be able to combine more mobilization and countermobilization.

But I don’t want to wave away the question here. Yes, like, there are schisms in the Democratic Party right now. The big one is Gaza. I see that as a very big problem for Biden, but it could just be a problem for Democrats, no matter what.

In any of the scenarios you might imagine, they’re going to have to find a way to, say, not lose Michigan because Arab American voters are furious at the Biden administration and at Democrats.

And then there’s the obvious way this could go badly, the one I hear a lot of people worrying about, is that the delegates don’t choose Kamala Harris, who is the obvious candidate, who has experience for 2020, is Joe Biden’s V.P. And that creates a schism with Black voters or just creates an ugly convention while that process plays itself out.

I’ve heard some people say things like “It would be unprecedented not to have the V.P. become the nominee,” and I do think that’s a funny thing to say right now, because we just saw that happen in 2016. Joe Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president. He was discouraged by people around Obama from running again. They wanted to pass it on to Hillary Clinton, who they thought was not just a more historic candidate but they also thought was a stronger candidate. Within the administration, she was more respected.

That does lead to some, even now, ill will between the Biden and the Obama camps, particularly the people in strategic positions in them. But it’s not always the case that the V.P. is the one who gets the next nod.

But in this particular case, I think people are worried about whether or not that would go badly, and I think it very much could go badly, depending on how it played out.

Gordon: So you just brought up Kamala Harris. So let’s go to our Kamala Harris question. This was another voice mail.

Voice-mail recording: Hello, Ezra. My name is Matt, and I’m calling from Brooklyn, N.Y. My question for you is in regards to your recent essay about Joe Biden’s age and particularly pertaining to Vice President Harris. I’m curious as to what you think the people find so displeasing about her, given her approval rating is lower than Biden, even though in private settings, she is viewed in a warm and attractive light. I’m just curious on what your thoughts are on that. Thank you.

Klein: This is tricky territory. Let me say a couple of things here. Try to put your head back in 2020, when she gets chosen for vice president. There’s not an immediate reaction among the commentariat, among politicos, among Democrats of, like, “What a crazy decision by Joe Biden.” That is not how the Harris vice presidency is greeted.

Then over the next couple of years, something happens, and Harris’s vice presidency is widely considered to be a kind of failure or at least not going well.

But if you try to look for what happened, you’re not going to find a whole lot. It isn’t like she gave some disastrous speech, like she screwed up some huge job they gave her, like anything happened in public that you can point to.

There were a number of stories in newspapers and Politico and places like that, that there was a lot of staff turnover, that her office was a kind of unhappy place in which to work, that things weren’t kind of running that well over there. In polling, she was consistently pulling a little bit worse than Joe Biden, which freaked people out.

I also think something happened here where the kind of politics that was very strong in 2020 that Harris represented in the sort of post-George Floyd moment, in a moment when the sort of backlash to what gets called now wokeness was not quite so strong, began to feel less like it was, like, the future of the Democratic Party and more like a faction within the Democratic Party. That Harris is not a politician like Joe Biden in the way that, say, when Bill Clinton chose Al Gore, he chose another kind-of moderate Southern Democrat. She’s a politician representing Joe Biden’s recognition at that time that he was maybe the end of something and he was going to pass on the torch of the party to somebody representing a new strain of its politics. But that strain of politics either weakened or people believed it weakened or maybe not that Harris was going to be the standard-bearer for it.

But to me, this is all pretty thin. It’s all pretty thin. If you ask me not, like, what Washington thinks of her but what I think of her, I think Harris is much more talented than people give her credit for. I think she has something that I’ve seen with many politicians who are — to just be blunt about this — women or Black, where people will say, where I will tell you, that in private she’s enormously warm and charismatic and funny and compelling and then much more cautious and seems very scripted on the stage. And I think that’s a very unfair way that candidates from different backgrounds get pushed to the side.

If you’re Joe Biden, if you’re Donald Trump, you’re allowed to kind of go out and say any old thing. And you seem authentic; you seem at home.

But there’s something people always said about Hillary Clinton, too, and it was true about Hillary Clinton: that she was amazing in small settings and not that good on the stump. But there was a reason for that. There was a reason that Clinton had learned to be cautious. There’s a reason Harris has learned to be cautious.

And so when you ask what is it that people find displeasing, I think candidates like Harris are caught in a bind between not showing too much of themselves in a world that has not always been open to them as full people. But then they get to a certain level, and it’s like, “Well, why do you seem so held back? Why do you seem so controlled and contained?”

I have my own views on Harris. I’m a Californian. I think Harris was a very strong candidate in California. She became attorney general. She became a senator. She ran for president. She was neither, I think, a generationally talented campaigner at any of those levels, but nor was she a bad campaigner at any of them. She didn’t do a crappy job in the Senate campaign, did not do a bad job running for attorney general, did not do a bad job running in 2020, in my view. Again, did not win in 2020, dropped out early.

But she was a little bit trapped in between the moderate and progressive lanes. She was to Joe Biden’s left but to Bernie Sanders’s right. She didn’t have that much name recognition. It was going to be a hard campaign.

And I think the problem for Harris is that her politics are very rooted in California. And so I think the kind of voter she is comfortable winning over and comfortable tuning a message to is a left-of-center Californian voter. Doesn’t mean a very liberal voter. When she was running for attorney general, she ran as a more moderate, smart-on-crime Democrat. And there are people who are more moderate in the party. Matt Yglesias at the newsletter Slow Boring has made this argument a number of times — that that older politics would make a lot of sense for her now, that Harris should re-emerge as tough on crime, smart on crime, more moderate, prosecutor-like.

But in 2020, she abandoned all that. If people remember, there was this internet meme that Kamala Harris is a cop because being in any way associated with law enforcement was really bad politics that year. May not be such bad politics now.

But Harris’s politics have a very Californian root to them. And so the question of “How does she win over voters in Pennsylvania, in Michigan? How good is she at winning over voters with a very different context, who are much more moderate?” — that is where, when I kind of hear her give her speeches and tune her message and think about politics, I get more worried about her. I think she doesn’t always hold a kind of voter who is unlike the ones that she has traditionally known how to win very well in her head.

Whereas Joe Biden, who comes from Delaware, who has roots in Pennsylvania, he was very well tuned to winning over those voters. The reason people get excited about Gretchen Whitmer and Josh Shapiro and so on is that they’re worried about Democrats winning Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Georgia and Arizona. And so candidates who have demonstrated a facility with voters in those states have a strategic advantage, and that isn’t something Harris has had to do or has done before.

But, again, I’ve said this now for a long time. I always thought she was going to have a very good 2024, that I thought the bar had now been set so low for her that it’s going to be almost trivial for her to clear it and that she’s a better speech giver, a better debater, better on offense than a lot of politicians are and that a lot of opinions were going to turn around on her in 2024. And I still basically believe that.

I don’t know if Harris is the right candidate for the Democratic Party, but I don’t think that the drop in esteem for her is based on anything all that real.

Gordon: All right. Our next question packs a lot in.

Voice-mail recording: Hey, Ezra. Jon Favreau here. First time, longtime. I appreciate your piece and share a lot of your concerns, as do most voters, including most Democrats. I think the challenge is we just don’t know and really can’t ever know if nominating Biden is riskier than letting Democratic activists and insiders pick a lesser-known and potentially weaker general election candidate at the convention in Chicago with just three months to go.

There hasn’t been much polling on how other Democrats might fare against Trump. But from what we’ve seen, people like Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer poll similar or worse than Biden against Trump.

Now some of that might just be because fewer voters are familiar with them, which would obviously change if one of them became the nominee. But if you’re Biden, you have to be thinking that a decision to step aside also comes with a real risk that the party will nominate someone who loses to Trump. And my sense is that’s a big reason he’s unlikely to do so.

Klein: Thanks, John, for being such a good friend of the pod. So let me try to actually make the strongest version of this argument against what I’m saying. There’s a recent poll that had Biden losing to Trump 45 to 44. It had Harris losing to Trump 46 to 43. It had Gavin Newsom losing to Trump 46 to 36 and had Gretchen Whitmer losing to Trump 45 to 33. So if you’re just taking that poll at face value, it isn’t just that Newsom or Whitmer would do worse than Biden or Harris but they would get destroyed compared to Biden or Harris.

And bluntly, I just don’t buy this at all. I think polls like this are just pure name recognition at this juncture. Most Americans have no idea who Gretchen Whitmer is. If you’re listening to this show, you are a weird politics junkie. You have a level of political information, and you’re willing to give a level of your time to politics that virtually no one is willing to do.

If you are listening to the show and you don’t live in Michigan, how many Gretchen Whitmer speeches have you actually seen? How much do you actually know about her? I guess for most people, the answer is zero Gretchen Whitmer speeches. Most people have seen maybe one at the 2020 Democratic convention.

I think if you want to look at more usable data, you want to look where you have name recognition between the candidates. So if you look at polling in Michigan, where both Joe Biden and Gretchen Whitmer are well known, Whitmer is running ahead of Biden against Trump by quite a lot. There’s a January poll from the Glengariff Group, which found Biden losing to Trump by eight in Michigan but Whitmer beating Trump by four. I’ve seen other polling from Pennsylvania that says Josh Shapiro is much more popular in Pennsylvania than Joe Biden is. So you can ask: Will that generalize? I think there’s a good chance that it will.

But to me, this all comes down to upside and downside risk. My worry with Biden is, I think, he has more downside risk than upside risk at this point. It’s likelier that something goes really wrong that crystallizes people’s fears about him being president for four more years than something goes really right that boosts his support sharply.

But, look, I would like to be wrong about this. I would like to see the next three or four months play out where things go really right and Biden seems like a political juggernaut or just like a quite strong incumbent candidate and then everybody can make fun of me for these pieces down the road.

But if that doesn’t happen, with these other candidates, and I do think this goes for Harris, too — she’s just functionally polling like Biden — but I think they all have more upside risk. People might be really excited about some of the possible tickets that could emerge here. They might be really excited about the people they would see at the convention and the speeches and so on. And so as people got to know them — I mean, any candidate chosen at the convention is going to rocket to functionally 100 percent name ID. And when it does that, the polling is going to look very different.

Gordon: This was from David, who was worried that Democrats would end up picking a candidate who seems great but then they have skeletons in their closet that come out on the campaign.

Klein: So I think this depends a bit on what kind of lead-up we’ve had to the convention. So if Biden steps aside in late May or June, you then have months of scrutiny on the possible candidates. A lot of CNN and MSNBC town halls, a kind of multimonth vetting process in the mass media. So I’d be less worried about the skeletons in the closet question, and also, just to be honest, I have trouble believing any candidate is going to compare poorly with what is stuffed in the Mar-a-Lago closets. So that doesn’t really feel to me like such a worrying matchup.

But particularly the scenario where there’s not much time to vet the candidates — I think you can imagine a candidate who looks good on paper, like a Gretchen Whitmer or Josh Shapiro, proving unable to bring it under the full force of a presidential campaign. We know that Shapiro and Whitmer have performed really well in, say, Pennsylvania and Michigan, respectively. But there is something about presidential campaigns that is different, something about the debates, something about the level of scrutiny and intensity. And that can prove to be a problem.

This might make you think that what you actually want is a candidate who proved pretty strong as a campaigner in 2020. I think Amy Klobuchar is somebody who has consistently overperformed in Minnesota, which is a state very much like Wisconsin, very much like some of these other Midwestern states that Democrats need to win in. And she did a good job on the campaign trail in 2020. And so I think Amy Klobuchar — you should understand her as a real political talent.

Again, this goes back to my “I just don’t think primaries are the be-all and end-all.” They have weird dynamics. They have big name-ID dynamics. And so people who were able to break out and be serious candidates and campaign without making huge mistakes — that’s the kind of thing I’m looking for that we don’t know yet about a Whitmer, about a Shapiro, about, really, anybody who hasn’t run at the presidential level.

I do think that there is a preference for new faces when people kind of imagine these scenarios, but experience under the presidential level should not be taken for granted.

Gordon: We did a whole episode about how the Democrats have been losing the white working class. And I think part of Biden’s strength was that he was able to stem those losses in the last election. Because of Biden, because of who he is, do you think that that’s a huge risk here?

Klein: I wouldn’t put this primarily on the white working class. You have to win the most votes in the states Democrats need to take the Electoral College, and there are different ways you could put that together. What Biden really did was not improve a lot among the white working class; he improved among college-educated whites, which turned out to work and, um, was enough.

But this is why I think there’s a lot of interest in candidates who are winning the states Democrats need to win in. Again, this is why people mention, why I mention Shapiro, why I mention Whitmer, why I mention people like Raphael Warnock, why I think you should think very hard about candidates from states where Democrats need a majority.

I don’t particularly care how that majority gets put together. Whether that majority is put together with more young voters because you get a lot of young voter turnout, whether it’s a more multiethnic coalition. Different states have different dynamics, and you can imagine a candidate who’s going to be really good at putting together a coalition in Georgia, in Arizona but maybe not quite as good in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. Michigan, again, because of the Arab American vote there — and Michigan has been close — is going to be a tricky place for Democrats right now.

This is really the kind of thing you would imagine being debated at a convention. When the delegates get together in a room and they’ve heard the speeches in public and they’ve seen the interviews the candidates are giving on TV and they’ve had the candidates come and give their presentations and they’ve had the candidates’ deputies and campaign managers and liaisons come and make the case to them, they’re going to sit there and say, if you’re the Pennsylvania delegation, “Well, who do I think can really win Pennsylvania?” If you’re the Michigan delegation, “Who do I really think can win Michigan? And in theory, the Michigan delegation knows a lot about winning Michigan. They have a sense of who the voters in Michigan are.

And so this would be the thing that all the candidates would be trying to persuade people of: that they have a pathway, that they have a way of seeing the electorate that is going to appeal to these particular states.

Gordon: So the convention picks a ticket, and this next question is about what happens next. This is from Evan.

Voice-mail recording: Hey. This is Evan calling from Maryland. I wanted to thank you for your most recent episode because it’s a question that I’m sure for myself and for a lot of voters is really exciting but also really scary. And I think one of those sources of fear to take this leap of faith for a new Democratic candidate is, OK, let’s say that we elect someone to run the party in August. We only have three months to go through the process. And I’m just wondering if that’s enough time to run a national campaign, especially for some of these newer-generation politicians, like Wes Moore, who I love. But I’m just worried — is three months enough time? Thanks so much.

Klein: So I’m not very worried about this for a bunch of different reasons. One reason is that in most countries, like, that is how long elections are or it is longer than elections are. We just have very long elections in America, and it is not clear to me at all the candidates benefit from that long period of time out in the public eye.

This is, by the way, particularly true for the current two candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, who have both been in the public eye for a long time now and are both extremely unpopular. So I’m not too worried about that.

The other dimension is that — think about the reasons people vote. So the first and strongest motivator on the Democratic side this year is going to be anti-Trump sentiment. So most Democrats are coming out to vote against Donald Trump, no matter what else is going on. That is what is going to get Democrats to a pretty high level in the vote. And frankly, if you listen to a lot of the strategists on the Democratic side, they’re really saying that is what is going to get the Democrats to victory.

I just have not heard anybody make the case to me that the Democrats are coming out for Joe Biden or, frankly, for Democrats in general. That you’re creating this anti-MAGA majority, and as long as you’ve got MAGA on the other side of the ticket, you’re going to win.

If Republicans had chosen Nikki Haley, Democrats would have had to come up with another strategy, and I think they would have very quickly found out they don’t actually have another strategy, and they might have ended up in real trouble here.

And then you would have a tremendous burst of almost an overwhelming amount of focus and press and energy and attention on the election. People don’t need that long to get to know somebody, to get excited about them, to see them. In fact, I think three months, even three months would end up feeling like quite a long time. So you have this incredibly dramatic, unexpected, unprecedented-within-the-last-50-years convention on the Democratic side. Everybody’s watching it. The press is covering it all the time. The press had been covering the run-up to it all the time. And then it’s September, and you have all of September, where just, like, wall-to-wall coverage of this thing, and all of October into November, when you have the actual election. That’s actually, to me, quite a lot of time.

This isn’t 1978. It’s pretty quick to cut an ad. You could just, like, at this point wander over to GPT-4 and be like, “What do you think a good ad for Wes Moore would be?” And they’ll give it to you in a second, basically.

And so I’m just not concerned about this. I am more concerned about the amount of time this campaign is going to stretch on for both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, given the way they’re both campaigning, than what it would mean to have a sprint campaign for an exciting new ticket coming out of a convention.

Gordon: What about ground game for a candidate that, say, just doesn’t have a lot of friends in Michigan and Wisconsin because they haven’t been campaigning for a year?

Klein: That’s what a political party is for. That is what the party is supposed to be doing. There’s elections happening in every single one of these states. There’s campaign offices happening in every one of these states. The Biden campaign is still funding things. That money is usable. Right? I don’t imagine they would close everything down.

And this is also what Trump did in 2016. Trump had functionally no campaign mechanics happening in 2016. He was running this very strange insurgent campaign, and it was the R.N.C. that took care of the ground game. Trump did not have a highly organized disciplined operation. One reason he’s going to be potentially a stronger candidate in 2024 is he does have a much more professional campaign happening around him that is, like, opening offices in the right places and hiring field organizers. But that is something the party is supposed to be doing all across the country and has been doing.

A reason that Democrats have done well in Michigan is that the Michigan Democratic Party has done an extraordinary job organizing in Michigan, and that infrastructure is all being built for 2024. The reason they’re doing well in Wisconsin is an extraordinary amount of energy has gone into building infrastructure in Wisconsin, and that has all been being built with the attention on 2024.

You can go state by state. The things that have won Georgia for Democrats in recent years have not gone away. They’re all there. So this is just not a part of it that worries me all that much.

And then the final thing I would just say is that ground game is great. What you need is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm against Donald Trump, enthusiasm for a ticket. But more than anything else, the thing you want, the thing a ground game needs to have is an enthusiastic voter pool. So the first and most important thing is your product — not how you market your product, not how you distribute your product. The first and most important thing is that people want your product. And so I don’t want to say everything takes care of itself if the product is good, but a lot more can be taken care of if the product is good.

Gordon: So this question is more about the upside of a convention and the kind of ticket that could come out of it, and it’s another voice mail.

Voice-mail recording: Hi, my name is Eve. I’m calling from New York. I, like many voters on the left, have been really checked out of Biden’s presidency, haven’t really been excited about any political candidate since Bernie Sanders. So I haven’t really considered anything to do with politics just being appealing to me. So I’m just wondering in this potential world, where Biden steps side, if you could talk a little bit about some of the political futures that you could imagine coming from candidates on the left and how some of them might be able to appeal to voters like me, who have been really disillusioned by Joe Biden and the Democratic Party at large, especially since their position on Israel-Palestine. OK. Thank you. Bye.

Klein: The honest answer is “I don’t know” to this. I suspect that a convention would be trying to choose a very highly strategic ticket more than a highly ideological ticket, and so it’d be very focused on people who they thought could win the five key states.

But I do think they would care about enthusiasm, and I do think, depending on how things go, there’s going to be a lot of concern about Gaza and the ruptures in the Democratic Party over this.

And so the possibility of a new ticket allows them to have someone or some set of candidates who doesn’t have to defend and doesn’t have to be yoked to every moment of the Biden administration’s support for Netanyahu.

Right now — I mean, this is where this all started, right? — Biden comes back at that press conference to give an answer saying that he thinks Netanyahu’s invasion now is over the top, and that’s when he makes the Sisi-as-president-of-Mexico flub.

But what was really happening in that question is Biden trying to sort of shift the energy and the orientation of his administration. He says, “As you all know, I think ….” Right? I’m not sure most people did know that.

But the thing that — even as they are rhetorically beginning to move a little bit on this, they are not yet substantively moving on this. America just vetoed another U.N. resolution calling for a cease-fire. We have put forward our own more compromised resolution saying there should be a humanitarian pause, like a temporary cease-fire, also calling for the return of hostages, saying the cease-fire should happen as soon as is practicable. Like, who decides what is practicable?

I, at this point, believe that the Biden administration’s position on this is not really defensible anymore. Netanyahu is not listening to them. They are not supporting Israel; they are supporting him. And Netanyahu has been very clear that virtually all the things Joe Biden thinks about Israel and Palestine, Netanyahu does not think. Netanyahu does not think Palestinians should be running Gaza after all this is over. Netanyahu does not think the Israeli military should be acting with a lot more restraint than it currently is. Netanyahu does not think that we should be on a path to a two-state solution. And Netanyahu has been extremely clear about all of this. And the consequences he has faced for it, at least publicly from Joe Biden, are none.

There’s really interesting reporting recently that Richard Haass — who, just until a year or two ago, was president of the Council on Foreign Relations, is now president emeritus, he’s, like, the center of the foreign policy establishment in the United States, the most establishment figure you can imagine — he’s been really trying to say to the Biden administration and going out and lobbying them, like, “You have to shift policy here.” And he’s been saying that Biden specifically should go give a speech at the Knesset, the Israeli legislature, arguing, going over Netanyahu’s head. By the way, as Netanyahu has done here before, going over Barack Obama’s head and giving a speech to Congress, calling for another pathway.

So far, this has not apparently been met with any takeup from the Biden administration, but Haass, I think, is right that Biden would need to do something at this point fairly spectacular to change people’s views about where he is. Criticizing Netanyahu a little bit on the margins but not actually shifting the substance of American policy is not going to do it.

So either Biden has to do something really big or, in this kind of convention scenario, you might get a ticket that just doesn’t have his baggage, a ticket that is younger, that was not backing Netanyahu to the hilt, kind of like all the way through this, and could just have a different policy and would just have more credibility on having a different policy.

The only other thing I will say on this, though, is that, again, we’re speaking in February. This is August. It might all look worse in August, right? That is a possibility, too.

And I take very seriously the depth of the anger toward the Biden administration on this issue. I think early on, I was pretty skeptical this would be a voting issue for people. But I think if you are on social media and you’ve been plugged into this in the last couple of months, I think the depth of disillusionment with Joe Biden is very hard to convey, and I don’t think it’s going to go away, at least not easily, at least not without some kind of major change.

So you could imagine someone else being able to put the party in a different place here, but where the whole situation will be by then is so unknowable to me now that I’m cautious about making any predictions about the role it will or won’t play at a convention.

Gordon: What do you think is the best argument against your argument for a convention?

Klein: Look, I think the best argument against my argument is that you think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are a strong ticket. And one of the things that has — I don’t know if I want to say it surprised me or it’s freaked me out, but for all the brickbats I’ve gotten on this, I’ve not seen one email, not seen one reply on social media, not one voice mail, to my knowledge — maybe I missed something. I definitely could have — making this argument.

The Democratic Party is just constantly sending me emails, telling me Donald Trump is an existential threat to democracy, that he is an existential threat to the country. And I believe them. I think that’s true. I think Donald Trump — “existential” is a strong word, but I think Trump is very, very dangerous.

And the primary strategic decision Democrats have to make in terms of beating him is their ticket. That is the main point of leverage they have over this election. Every campaign decision downstream from that is less important than that crucial decision.

So if you think Biden and Harris are a strong ticket or they show themselves in the coming months to be a strong ticket, fantastic. In general, incumbents are very strong. Most incumbents get re-elected. In general, you don’t want to switch horses midstream. Doing something that is risky and unusual and that people have not done for a long time carries a lot of risk.

And so the best argument against it is that the ticket Democrats have is strong, is likely to win and there’s no need to change it. And if that’s what you believe, great.

My argument right now is that that is not what I am starting to believe. Now, I could just be wrong. I have changed my view on this from where I was six months ago. But maybe they’re just off to a slow start. Maybe over the next three or four or five months, everything kicks into gear and their paid advertising campaign is excellent and we begin to see the movement that one would want to see.

I guess a challenge I would offer to a lot of people is to, like, say in your own mind, “What would you need to see?" What would be the evidence to you that the ticket was weak and that if Democrats want to beat Trump, they should change it?

I think that the question that a lot of people, particularly in the Democratic Party and at its high level should be asking is, “What is your red line?”

Imagine yourself in May. When you’re talking about May, June, polling is pretty predictive. We tend to have a pretty good idea what’s going on in the election by May or June. So what would you need to see in May or June to feel comfortable? And what would you need to see in May or June to feel like, “No, we’re on the wrong path here”?

A journalist friend of mine said to me recently, in response to my piece, that his read on the Democrats was that they would prefer to lose in a way that is comfortable for them than to win in a way that is uncomfortable for them. That if Joe Biden is renominated and he loses, nobody’s really going to be blamed for that but Joe Biden.

I think that might be wrong, and there might actually ultimately be a lot of backlash for the Democratic establishment for running a candidate who a lot of Democrats were like, “This seems like not a great idea, but whatever.” That is a safe way to lose.

By contrast, if you come out against a ticket and the ticket maintains, then you have put yourself crosswise with the Biden administration. If you come out for a convention and the convention fails, reputationally, then you’re in real trouble. You put your head out, and Democrats did this thing, and it went badly. ”And how dare you! If only they had stuck with Biden, it all would have been fine.”

It’s very easy to see from a perspective of people’s individual incentives, how it would make more sense to stick with the Biden-Harris ticket, even if you don’t think the Biden-Harris ticket is going to win.

But I think what I am trying to say is that that is an abdication of duty. That is an abdication of what a party is supposed to do, and it is much more so an abdication of what a party is supposed to do when the party believes the other candidate is as dangerous as they believe Donald Trump is. It’s not Mitt Romney here. It’s not George H.W. Bush. If you think Donald Trump is going to win, you have to do something about it. Otherwise, you’ve kind of just been lying to people and lying to yourself.

So, look, if you get to May, June and you think Donald Trump is going to lose, Biden is now up by three, people are focusing in on Donald Trump, they like what they see with Biden, they don’t like what they see with Trump, fantastic. Write all this off.

But if you get to May, June and Biden is down by three and Trump seems stronger and Biden’s not performing well on the campaign trail and you don’t think he’s going to win and you don’t really understand what this turnaround is supposed to be, well, then you have to ask yourself, “What are you here for? What is your job in this? What are you going to feel good about having done or not done on the other side of the election?”

Thank you, Claire, for sitting in on this with me. Thank you to everybody who’s listened to the piece and sent in these questions. I’m sorry we couldn’t get to more of them. As always, our email on the show is [email protected]. We can’t always answer everything, but we do try to read everything.

You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App , Apple , Spotify , Google or wherever you get your podcasts . View a list of book recommendations from our guests here .

Biden Campaign Event in Nevada

This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Mary Marge Locker. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. And special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

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  1. Compare and Contrast Essays: The Ultimate Guide

    Write with Grammarly In this guide, we explain how to write a compare-and-contrast essay, including some advanced tips and examples. We discuss how to structure your essay and how to frame your thesis, but first, let's take a broader look at why comparison essays are so useful. Purpose of a compare-and-contrast essay

  2. Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

    General prompt Discuss the effects of the Great Depression in the United States. 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    1 Pick two subjects that can be compared and contrasted. The first step to writing a successful compare and contrast essay is to pick two subjects that are different enough to be compared. There are several things to consider when choosing your subjects:

  6. 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.

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    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 ...

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    Summarize the main similarities and differences you have identified. Make a point regarding the relationship between your subjects. 4. Things to Remember. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when writing your compare and contrast essay: Ensure you are comparing or contrasting the same criteria between each subject.

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    Key steps include: Pick two things to compare based on the assignment you were given. Brainstorm the similarities and differences between your chosen subjects. Choose a structure for your essay and plan how you will write it. Write up your comparison and use evidence to support your argument.

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    To compare is to examine how things are similar, while to contrast is to see how they differ. A compare and contrast essay therefore looks at the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences. This essay type is common at university, where lecturers frequently test your understanding by asking you to compare and contrast two theories ...

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    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.

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    Part 1 Brainstorming Your Topic Download Article 1 Understand the structure of a compare and contrast essay. Most compare and contrast essays bring one or both subjects into sharper focus, lead to a new way of viewing something, or show that one subject is better than the other.

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    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.

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    This interactive guide provides an introduction to the basic characteristics and resources that are typically used when students compose comparison and contrast essays. The Comparison and Contrast Guide includes an overview, definitions and examples. The Organizing a Paper section includes details on whole-to-whole (block), point-by-point, and ...

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    Key Elements of the Compare and Contrast: The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. Comparison and contrast is simply telling how two things are alike or different. The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be ...

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    1. Block Method 2. Point-by-Point Method Organizing a Compare-Contrast Essay If you are asked to write a compare-contrast essay, use the following structure: Compare-Contrast Essay Structure When should you use Block vs. Point-by-Point Method? As a general rule, use block method for paragraphs, such as a discussion board post.

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    Give things a score from one to five (or ten, if you've got a lot of topics and need the extra differentiation). Things to base your score on: Is it relevant to the class? Is it interesting and informative? Does it fit into the argument that you're going to make or is it a tangent?

  19. How to Start a Compare and Contrast Essay: Build the Framework

    The introduction should entice readers into reading your essay, so make sure you start out strong. You may begin by mentioning one interesting fact about one of the subjects, or by asking a question that will be answered later in the paper. An introduction should describe what the compare and contrast essay is about, so if you're discussing ...

  20. 34 Compelling Compare and Contrast Essay Examples

    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 ...

  21. 5 Compare and Contrast Essay Examples (Full Text)

    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:

  22. 8.6: Essay Type- Comparing and Contrasting Literature

    The Compare and Contrast Essay is a literary analysis essay, but, instead of examining one work, it examines two or more works. These works must be united by a common theme or thesis statement. For example, while a literary analysis essay might explore the significance of ghosts in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, a compare/contrast essay might ...

  23. 101 Compare and Contrast Essay Ideas for Students

    Recycling vs. Landfill. Motorcycle vs. Bicycle. Halogen vs. Incandescent. Newton vs. Einstein. Go on vacation vs. Staycation. Rock vs. Scissors. Cite this Article. These compare and contrast essay topics provide teachers and students with great and fun ideas for home and class work.

  24. Race and LGBTQ Issues in K-12 Schools

    In contrast, more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (48%) than say parents should not be able to do this (33%). On topics related to both race and LGBTQ issues, elementary and middle school teachers are more likely than high school teachers to say parents should be able ...

  25. Opinion

    Ezra Klein: Last week I did an audio essay arguing that Joe Biden right now does not seem up for the campaign he is going to have to run. He is behind in the polls. He is behind in the polls.