Compare vs. Contrast

Difference between compare and contrast

Compare and contrast are the two words that are used to show the similarities and differences between two things. When you compare two things you show how they are the same and when you contrast them you show how they are different. If it is your intention  to write about the ways in which two things are the same, then you are writing a comparison. If your intention is to write about how two things differ from one another then you are writing a contrast.

How to compare

One of the extra things that you do when you compare two things is that you examine the qualities of each one so that you show the ways in which they are similar to each other. The word comes from the Latin “comparare”. The figure of speech known as a similie is based on comparing two things using the words “like” or “as”. For example, “The man in the moon has a face like cheese” compares the face of the man in the moon to cheese.

How to contrast

When you contrast two things you do not look at the qualities of each one. Rather you simply point out all the ways in which they are different. If you look at the following sentence “The face of the man in the moon is better than cheese” you can see that the sentence is telling how the face of the man is different from cheese, so you are contrasting the two.

Summary

  1. When you compare two things, you show how they are alike.
  2. When you contrast two things, you show how they are different.
  3. When you compare two things, you discuss the qualities of each one to show how they are similar.

You do not do this when you contrast two things because the focus is on how they are different.