How to write a comparative essay

Essays are easy to start, and actually easy to complete, when it comes right down to it. However, when you are asked to construct a specific type of essay it gets much more difficult. The different types all have basic guidelines that need to be followed so that they can be completed successfully. The reader should not have to guess about the type of essay or the subject matter. So, the following, are the general steps in how to write a comparative essay.


A comparative essay has the intended purpose of comparing two different items. This comparison can be completed in via one of two methods. The first is to make the case for one idea over another (or one item over another.) this comes in handy when discussing two products of the same type. The second way that you can complete a comparative essay is you simply compare the two items or ideas without a bias toward one or the other. These types of comparative essays would be used when you want to present two ideas about a particular event so that the reader can then make an informed decision about the two.

There are basically three different methods that can be used to write a comparative essay, but before discussing those, the essay must be set up. You have to understand fully what you are writing about before you begin. Make sure that you have done enough research that you understand the matter fully, and can easily compare the two items. In the introduction to the piece, the reader must be told what the two items are and then specifically what you are analyzing regarding those items. The end of the first paragraph needs to show what preference you have decided upon. It is a declarative statement that is basis of the rest of the essay. Finally, have a set method for the essay. There are a few ways that you can do this.

You may want the reader to understand the direct comparison point by point.

  • One sentence about one subject (apples), the next sentence regarding a similar aspect about oranges.

To do this use each paragraph to discuss one aspect of both views. Another method is to use one paragraph to exhaustively discuss a certain part of one view and then the next paragraph to fully examine that part of the opposing view and so on through the essay.

  • First paragraph apples.
  • Second paragraph about the similar qualities of oranges.
  • Repeat this pattern until the conclusion paragraph.

 The last way that this type of essay can be structured is to use a series of paragraphs to fully discuss one view and then use the next series of paragraphs to fully discuss the opposing view.

  • Introduction.
  • Body
  • Three paragraphs discussing the benefits of apples.
  • Three paragraphs rebutting those about oranges.
  • Conclusion.

Finally, you will need a conclusion. This draws the essay together. You have completely discussed both the views and given reasons why you would choose one over the other. The reader now wants you to make sure that you have finished the essay satisfactorily. Restate the salient points of the essay, and then make sure that they know what your conclusion was. Nothing should be a mystery, and there can be no loose ends that leave the reader questioning your conclusion. Lastly end the conclusion with catchy statement like in the introductions first sentence. Now you know how to write a comparative essay.