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How do I Write a Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Essays that ask the writer to compare and contrast ideas, texts, events, and so on are very common in academic settings. Writing a compare and contrast thesis statement can be one of the more challenging aspects of such an essay, but there are several ways to write a solid thesis statement, which will then set the tone for the rest of the essay. To begin, one must first read the question carefully and decide which aspects of the topic are important and must be included in the essay. This step will guide the writing of the thesis statement.

A good essay writer will consider what the person asking the question wants to hear. These types of essays are common in college, so a professor will often be posing the question. When reading the question, consider what the professor will be looking for: an understanding of main ideas, an analysis of complex relationships, and so on. This may sound complicated, but basically, the idea is to capture what the question is asking and analyze your perception of it. For example, if the question asks the writer to compare and contrast a high calorie diet with a low calorie diet, the writer should be sure to first understand the advantages and dangers of each. Then, the writer must make a determination of what's important.

An example of a compare and contrast thesis statement that takes into account both sides of the argument while still giving specifics might look like this:

"While a high calorie diet may be appropriate for athletes or people whose jobs and daily lives require them to be exposed to prolonged physical exertion, a low calorie diet is sufficient for most people and can, in fact, improve health and prevent disease."

The above thesis statement lends credence to both sides of the argument and uses a key word that a good compare and contrast thesis statement should contain: while. This conditional word indicates to the reader that there are two parts to the statement, and the writer has outlined specific arguments for one or the other, or both. Words like while, whereas, although, or even though can convey this idea.

Like any other thesis statement, the writer must be sure to include specifics without becoming too verbose. A compare and contrast thesis statement should be only one sentence, but it is important to avoid being too broad; the more specific the thesis statement is, the easier supporting that thesis will become.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari , Former Writer
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By anon320784 — On Feb 19, 2013

It's very difficult to write a good hook sentence.

By truman12 — On May 19, 2012

I have found that with a compare and contrast paper it is often easier to try to write a thesis paragraph rather than try to cram your entire framing idea into a single sentence.

Many writing teachers discourage the use of a thesis paragraph, but that is mostly to teach young students discipline. When done well it can actually enhance a paper.

By backdraft — On May 18, 2012

I teach college composition courses and I see a lot of students try to write compare and contrast style papers. I have seen some good ones, but in all honesty they tend to be some of my weaker papers.

There is potential in the compare and contrast essay, but it can also be an easy topic for students who don't have other ideas to grab on to. If you are going to write this kind of paper it has to reveal something unexpected. Too often it just traffics in the obvious.

So take some time to craft a thesis statement that really says something and build your paper around that. You need to hook the reader from the beginning and make them interested in the relationship you are about to illuminate.

By ZsaZsa56 — On May 18, 2012

Writing a compare and contrast thesis statement is difficult, because often in stating the intent of your paper you don't really have time to stake out a position.

It is not enough to simply compare and contrast two things. That analysis has to be used in the service of something greater, a larger idea or principle. But that larger idea is difficult to state in the thesis statement which must be concise by it's definition. It takes lots of careful editing and fine tuning to get the words right.

Dan Cavallari

Dan Cavallari

Former Writer

Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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