How Do You Write A Comparative Essay: Basic Recommendations 

In a comparative essay, you should compare at least two items that have similarities and differences: e.g. two literary works, two theories, two historical figures, two events, two scientific processes, etc. After choosing a suitable topic, you need to decide on which points you are going to compare. You also need to do research, find appropriate facts, and represent your ideas in organized paragraphs. If you don’t know how to write this paper in an effective way, use the following recommendations.

  • Decide on the basis for comparison.
    • Read the essay prompt carefully.
    • By reading the prompt, you will know exactly what should be compared in your paper. For example, you may be asked to compare and contrast the themes of love in two poems, or look for similarities and differences in the economic situations of two countries.

    • Develop your comparative basis.
    • If you don’t have any specific requirements, pick your own points for analysis. For example, if you are asked to compare two novels, you can focus on the writers’ literary techniques or pay attention to certain concepts that are present in both novels.

  • Write down similarities and differences.
  • In a comparative essay, you are supposed to represent not only common features but different ones as well. Compile a list and use it as a reference for your outline.

  • Conduct research.
  • Comparative papers that analyze historical events, social issues, or scientific subjects, usually, require that you do research and represent the facts’ similarities and differences. Essays that are based on literary analysis are not so research-oriented. However, quotations may be very useful as well.

  • Choose the most suitable pattern to organize your paper.
  • There are two main patterns for representing similarities and differences:

    • Point-by-point pattern.
    • Compare one point of both items in a separate paragraph: a certain aspect of A versus a certain aspect of B. The next aspect of both A and B will be presented in the next paragraph.

    • Subject-by-subject pattern.
    • Analyze all points of one item and then analyze all points of another item: all aspects of A (body paragraphs 1-3) followed by all aspects of B (body paragraphs 4-6).

  • Don’t write your comparative essay in a standard order.
  • Start with composing the body of your paper, follow it with the conclusion and then the introduction may be written last. It is easier to work in this order.

If you follow these recommendations, understand what you are comparing, and don’t get off the track, then your comparative essay will be a success.