Students write comparison or contrast paragraphs in many different content areas. In English, language arts and reading, students might compare and contrast characters in a story, while in social studies class they might compare or contrast different cultures, government leaders or time periods in history. When developing a comparison or contrast paragraph students should list the similarities and differences between the two topics and use this information to support their writing.
Organizing Similarities and Differences
Students can use a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram as part of the paragraph prewriting process. Graphic organizers are visuals within which students can list the attributes of the two topics, including how they are similar and how they are different. Create a Venn diagram by drawing two circles that overlap in the middle. On the outside of the overlapping area, write the name of each topic and the attributes of that topic. On the inside of the overlapping area, list the attributes these two topics have in common, or their similarities. This process helps students organize their thoughts prior to writing their paragraphs.
Writing a Comparison Paragraph
A comparison paragraph focuses on the similarities between the two topics. The first sentence of the paragraph is an introduction to the argument that these two topics are similar. The following sentences provide evidence to support the introductory sentence. Each sentence should be about one thing the two topics have in common. Students can write additional supporting sentences or transition sentences as needed. The last sentence in the paragraph is a closing sentence that should reinforce the writer’s claim that the two topics are similar.
Writing a Contrast Paragraph
When writing a contrast paragraph, select one difference between the two topics and discuss this difference in depth. In this case the introductory sentence is more like a thesis statement and the following sentences provide details to support the argument. The closing sentence should reiterate the contrast between the two topics.
Writing a Comparison and Contrast Paragraph
Some assignments will ask students to both compare and contrast two topics. In this case, the introductory sentence must communicate that the two topics are both similar and different. The following sentences should include two similarities and two differences between the topics, and this information should be specific. The closing sentence should summarize the supporting evidence and reinforce the idea that the two topics are both similar and different.