How to structure a comparison response
A comparison response still follows the basic essay structure:
- an introduction
- four or five main points supported by details
- a conclusion - this must link back to the question, and mention both texts
When you compare texts, it’s important to talk about both texts all the way through. Don’t write all about one text, then all about the other.
In each paragraph, make sure you mention both, even if a point is mostly about one of them.
Some key phrases can help you to compare texts.
|In the same way||On the other hand…|
|Just as... so does....||Alternatively…|
|Both... and...||In a different way…|
When comparing texts, you are making a point about two different texts, backing up ideas with evidence and explaining the idea. Then using a linking statement, you can connect the two ideas together.
Take a look at the structure of the following example, where the writer compares how their mother and father react to poor behaviour:
Both my Mum and Dad lose their temper sometimes when we misbehave, but in completely different ways.
My Mum usually reacts to everything by losing her temper really quickly and screaming in response to make sure everyone knows just how furious she is. The thing that causes her to react strictly is usually leaving lights on. The quotation, ‘If I have to tell you again to turn those lights off, I will take the bulb out of your bedroom!’ This shows that sometimes she can exaggerate in her reactions.
On the other hand, Dad will hardly ever lose his temper, or raise his voice. Instead, he will just stare at you silently, so you know instantly that you are in trouble. The quotation, ‘Well’ is the single word that he says once he has stared at you for a minute, and this shows that whilst he doesn’t scream and shout like Mum, he gives you a warning of the lecture that he is about to give you.
Notice how the writer makes a point about how each parent loses their temper, backs it up with evidence and then explains their idea. The linking sentence starting with ‘on the other hand’ shows how the two ideas are similar or different.
Imagine these two (potentially) devastating scenarios:
- You fire up your laptop to complete research for your upcoming essay, and you see a message that says, “No Internet Connection.”
- You text the girl you went out with a few days ago to ask if she wants to go out with you this weekend, and she replies “no” because she just “doesn’t feel a connection.”
My point here? Connections matter!
While making connections in your writing might not seem as important as an Internet connection or as important as a connection to a cute girl you thought you had a connection with, they are important.
Here’s how you can make connections in your own writing.
How to Make Connections Between a Text and Your World
In writing, there are three basic ways you can make connections:
- Text-to-self connections
- Text-to-text connections
- Text-to-world connections
In your classes, you might read novels, journal articles, or scientific studies. You might study historical works or ancient sculptures. You might even watch documentaries, movies, or cartoons.
Even if you’re not examining words in print, for our purposes, “text” refers to pretty much anything you’re writing about.
So regardless of what you’re studying, in order to understand a concept more completely, you need to be able to make connections. (Want more evidence that connections count? Read The Secret to Creativity, Intelligence, and Scientific Thinking: Being Able to Make Connections.)
Here are a few tips to help you make connections to self, to other texts, and to the world around you.
Text-to-self connections are all about you. And who knows more about you than you, right? So text-to-self connections are generally the easiest way to connect because you simply need to think about how you’re affected and how you relate.
Think about it like meeting a stranger. You don’t know anything about each other, so in order to carry on a conversation, you try to find something in common. Your goal is to find a way to relate to each other. The same is true about making text-to-self connections.
To make text-to-self connections, ask the following:
- Have you experienced something like this in your own life?
- Is this starkly different from anything you’ve ever experienced?
- How do you feel when you see, watch, or study this?
- What have you learned, and how has it changed your thinking?
Text-to-text connections require you to make connections to other things you’ve studied. It’s kind of like a compare and contrast essay. How are things the same, and how are they different?
To make text-to-text connections, ask the following:
- Is this similar to anything else you’ve studied?
- Is this different than anything else you’ve studied?
- In what ways is it similar or different to other things you’ve studied?
Text-to-world connections are just as they sound—you need to make connections to the world around you. And even though sometimes we all feel like the world centers around us, when you make text-to-world connections, you shouldn’t only focus only on your world.
The world can be anything from life inside your dorm room to life in another country. It might refer to what’s happening today, tomorrow, or hundreds of years ago.
To make text-to-world connections, ask the following:
- How does this relate to your world or the world at large?
- Is this similar or very different from your world (or different or similar in different parts of the world)?
- Does this connect to current events, historical events, or both?
- What future implications might it have?
Making Connections to Specific Subjects
Even if you have a basic understanding of how to make connections in writing, sometimes it can be challenging to make those connections in your classes.
If you’re struggling to make connections in a specific subject, check out these ideas. (I’ve listed a few suggestions for literature, history, and science classes, but you can adapt the broad concepts to just about any course.)
- Are you like any of the characters? Do you have the strength of Superman? The determination of The Little Engine That Could? Or do you simply have blazing-red hair like Annie?
- Do any characters remind you of anyone you know? Perhaps you have an uncle who’s as fun-loving (and just as mischievous) as The Cat in the Hat.
- Is the setting similar to an area you know or live in? Maybe you live in a unique or quirky area that you can somehow relate to the fictional Harry Potter village of Hogsmeade.
- Is this story similar to another you’ve read? Maybe both stories focus on women’s rights or father/son relationships.
- Does a novel or story, even if it was written years ago, still relate to today? Consider how Orwell’s 1984 might relate to events of today.
Need help with your literary analysis? Check out How to Write a Literary Analysis That Works.
Want to see how others have tackled the literary analysis paper? Take a look at some example literary analysis essays.
- How does the historical event you’re studying relate to what’s happening today? Consider whether the protests of the 1960s compare to protests of today or how the economy of today might relate to recessions of the past.
- Are you like a historical figure in any way? Perhaps you’re an activist or a member of the military.
- Do leaders of today compare to leaders of the past or to other current leaders? Can you draw comparisons between presidents, governors, dictators, or generals?
- Can you find comparisons in one historical event to another event in history? Are there any similarities in the causes of WWI and WWII? Do social movements and the struggle for human rights bear some resemblance to each other, no matter what the decade?
If you’re looking for a little help with your history paper, read How to Write a History Paper That Will Go Down in History.
- How does your research directly affect you? Do you use any of the products you’ve tested? Do your experiments involve your drinking water, air quality, or another aspect of the environment?
- Have you completed multiple research studies? How are they similar, or how are they different from each other? Did you reach different conclusions by conducting similar experiments?
- Are any expert studies similar to each other or to your own research? Perhaps both studies reached the same conclusion, or perhaps your research resulted in different conclusions than those of the experts.
- Does recent research compare to previous studies, or does it present ground-breaking discoveries? Have recent studies discovered new uses for drugs, or have they found alternative drugs for similar treatments?
Working on a lab report and need a little assistance? Check out How to Write a Science Lab Report That Gets Results.
Even if you’ve just finished your paper and have now made all the connections you can possibly make, it never hurts to read a few more writing tips to make your paper even better.
Ready to improve your writing even more? Read these posts:
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