Writer Sabri Bebawi

E-BOOK Bebawi's NOVEL

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Comparing and Contrasting Ideas

Comparing is showing similarities between persons, objects, and ideas; contrasting is showing differences.  Comparing and contrasting are ways to show relationships.  Most of us compare and contrast in some form every day.  
 
Comparison and contrast is used as a means of presenting ideas on a variety of topics.  It is often used in persuasive writing when a writer tries to convince the reader of the advantages of one point of view compared to another.
 
there are two basic organization patterns; they can be used independently or in a combination.  The one the writer uses depends on the topic and audience.
 
(1) Item-by-Item:
 
One method is item-by-item comparison, in which one item or idea is totally described and then the other item is similarly described. Here is an example of an outline using item-by-item organization to compare two colleges: San Jose City College and  Santa Ana College.
 
I.    San Jose City College
   A.    Student population
   B.    Special services
   C.    Recent enrollment patterns 
 
II.   Santa Ana College
   A.    Student population
   B.    Special services
   C.    Recent enrollment patterns 

(2) Point-by-point:

The same information as above could be presented in a different way if the writer wanted to stress the differences.  The point-by-point method is used in this outline of the same material.

I.     Student population
   A.    San Jose City College
   C.    Santa Ana College 
 
II.   Special services
   A.    San Jose City College
   B.    Santa Ana College     
   
III.   Recent enrollment patterns
   A.    San Jose City College
   B.    Santa Ana College     

To decide which of these two methods to use, consider the nature of the topic and consider your readers.  If the topic has a lot of detail, the point-by-point method would probably be better because it lends itself to more detailed development of the topic.  The item-by-item organization is effective for more limited topics.

Typical questions:
"How does X differ from Y?"
"Compare X and Y."
"What are the advantages and disadvantages of X and Y?"
Example:
Q: "Which would you rather own--a compact car or a full-sized car?"

A: Thesis: I would own a compact car rather than a full-sized car for the following reasons: .......A......., .......B......., .......C......., and .......D....... .
Two patterns of development:
 
Pattern 1
Full-sized car
Advantages
Disadvantages
    Compact car
    Advantages
    Disadvantages
      Pattern 2
      Advantages
      Full-sized car
      Compact car
        Disadvantages
        Full-sized car
        Compact car
         
          Useful transition words
           
          • on the other hand
          • similarly
          • yet
          • unlike A, B ...
          • in the same way
          • but
          • while both A and B are ..., only B ..
           
          • nevertheless
          • on the contrary
          • though
          • despite
          • however
          • conversely
          • while A is ..., B is ...