In this lesson, we're going to talk about compare and contrast essays. Compare means to look at what is similar between two things. Contrast means to look at what is different between two things. Sometimes we use the word compare to mean both similarities and differences. But when we're talking about writing a compare or contrast essay, keep in mind that compare means similarities, contrast means differences. And then also, sometimes we use the word comparison, just to be a general kind of reference to this kind of essay. Always before you write, you need to think about your topic and make a plan. When we write a comparison essay, we often use these two types of diagrams. On the left side, we have what's called a Venn diagram, two circles that intersect each other. You would put your two topics at the top of the diagram, and then you would write all of the things that describe the first topic in the first circle, and all of the things that go with the second topic in the second circle. Anything that is different about topic A and topic B, you write in the outside of the circles, and then when they intersect, anything that they both have in common you would write here in the middle. Another type of diagram you can use for preparing you compare or contrast essay is just a T chart. Looks like a T, right? You list all of the things about topic A on one side and all of the things about topic B on the other side. It doesn't matter which of these methods you use, but you should use some kind of strategy when you're planning your compare contrast essay. Here's an example of a Venn diagram. This one is about two kinds of fish. You may not have heard of this kind of fish before. I think this is the kind of fish that Nemo is. Remember the movie Finding Nemo? This is the kind of fish he is. And you see here, it says orange and white stripes. The other kind of fish is a salmon, and all of these details here describe only the salmon. All of these details here describe only this kind of fish. I don't even know how to say it, anemone I think. Anemonefish, that's it. And then all of the details here in the middle are shared characteristics. Shared by this fish and this fish. This is a nice example of how you use a Venn Diagram. Remember, we already said that the thesis statement is the most important sentence in your introduction. And it really is important for the whole essay, because your thesis tells what the essay is going to be about. When you're writing a compare and contrast essay, you have to make sure that you mention the two things that you're going to be comparing or contrasting. And then you also need to use language that shows your reader whether you are comparing or contrasting. These are two patterns that you can use when writing a compare or contrast essay. I'm showing you both of them here, but in the essay that you're going to write, you're going to use the point-by-point method. I'll just quickly show you the block method, but it's really inferior to the point-by-point. It's very basic. In the block method, you would have just two body paragraphs. The first body paragraph would be all about topic A. The second body paragraph would be all about topic B. And you don't mix the two topics. It's almost like having two separate essays. This is not really a good strategy to use. This is a stronger method, and this is the one that you are required to use for this essay that you'll be writing, your first essay. In the point-by-point method, your body paragraphs talk about each topic. The first body paragraph you would talk about some point regarding topic A and topic B, showing how they are similar or how they are different. Your next body paragraph would show another similarity, or another difference, and again you talk about both topics. And your third body paragraph would talk about another point that's either shared or different between the two topics. Before you start writing, it's a good idea to make an outline. Remember, that for your essay, you're going to write a point-by-point method. You should try to make some kind of outline similar to the point-by-point outline that I just showed you with topics A and B. When you see your assignment, and you'll see the assignment in the assignments area of the course page, you need to start by making a Venn diagram or a T chart. This will help you get your ideas organized. Then you're going to decide whether you're writing about similarities or differences. And in each body paragraph, you will have one similarity or one difference. Now don't get confused about that. You won't write about both in your essay. You'll only choose similarities and you'll write about three similarities, or you'll only choose differences and then you would write about three differences. But each body paragraph will have one of these.