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Is that Compare or Is It Contrast?

Sometimes teachers assign a comparison/contrast essay. But what does your teacher mean exactly?

To compare, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “To speak of or represent as similar; to liken.” Thus, if your teacher asks you to compare, find the similarities. Remember, however, to have a good reason for comparing, such as to show how each one is equally suitable or reliable, for example.

To contrast, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “To set in opposition … in order to show strikingly their different qualities or characteristics, and compare their superiorities or defects.” In contrast, clearly, one needs to make a choice. One or the other is preferable, more suitable, more reliable and so on.

Take care and you soon will be writing good work. For more information view the following resources:

The Comparison Contrast Essay

A Lesson in Contrasts: Writing Comparison Contrast

Working with Comparison Contrast

(January 1, 2011)

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