If at first glance the terms ‘compare’ and ‘contrast’ appear similar, be warned: They are not synonyms. When two things are contrasted, their differences are highlighted – such as “before” and “after” shots on a home makeover show. When two things are compared, they are put side by side so as to bring out their similarities. For example, we might set a green apple and a red apple side by side and note their similar shapes and location of their stems.
In this article:
- List of Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
- Compare and Contrast Examples
We compare and contrast things everyday without even realizing it. For example, when buying a car, shopping for a new mobile phone, or choosing a birthday gift for someone. As early as middle school, we are asked to formalize the ways in which we compare and contrast when we are assigned Compare and Contrast essays. This skill gets refined in high school and sees continued use through college and on into our professional lives.
If you are creating your own essay topic, then there needs to be an obvious basis for comparison and the comparison needs to make logical sense. For example, an iPhone and a Granny Smith would be a poor choice for comparison – even though they are both types of “Apples.” It would be better to compare two varieties of apples, or two types of phones.
If you are writing an essay, then think about how you will make a larger point about the two subjects being compared. Use your comparison to highlight something new about those subjects that the reader may not have considered before. Create a compare and contrast chart using a Venn Diagram or other graphic organizers such as grids or tables to help highlight similarities and differences.
It will take time to research and prepare, so try to pick a topic that interests you and yet still satisfies all of the academic requirements. Below, you will find plenty of compare and contrast ideas that can be used either as topics or as inspiration while you brainstorm your own ideas.
In our list you will see examples that compare or contrast:
- two similar topics to find some subtle yet important differences
- two wildly different topics to discover their surprising similarities
- two very specific parts of a main topic against each other
- two main subjects within a very narrow scope such as a historical period or genre
List of Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
Film and Television
- “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent”
- Characters in “The Avengers” and “Justice League”
- Vampires in “The Twilight Saga” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”
- Characters or magic in “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings”
- “The Sound of Music” and “The Diary of Anne Frank”
- “The Wizard of Oz” and “Huckleberry Finn”
- The “Star Trek” universe and the “Star Wars” universe
- Sci-fi and Fantasy
- “CSI” and “Bones”
- “Jurassic Park” and “Westworld”
- Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton
- “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy”
- “The Bachelor” and “Survivor”
- “Happy Days” and “That 70’s Show”
- “Friends” and “Seinfeld”
Books and Literature
- Comedy and Tragedy
- Fiction and nonfiction
- “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility”
- “Romeo and Juliet” and “Much Ado About Nothing”
- William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens
- “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn”
- “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia”
- Agatha Christie and James Patterson
- “Animal Farm” and “Brave New World”
- “Fahrenheit 451” and “1984”
- Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple
- “The Great Gatsby” and “The Grapes of Wrath”
- John Grisham and Stephen King
- Criminal behavior and deviant behavior
- Psychoanalysis and psychology
- Alcoholic and workaholic
- CBT and DBT
- Only child and siblings
- Instant messaging and direct conversation
- Childhood and adulthood
- Anorexia and bulimia
- Physical beauty and inner beauty
- Toddlers and teenagers
- Introverts and extroverts
- Habits and addictions
- Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
- Narcissism and selfishness
- Gifted and bright
- Knowledge and wisdom
- Traits and character
- Depression and anxiety
- Anorexia and orthorexia
- Optimism and positive thinking
- An online social network and a face to face social network
- A starting pitcher and a reliever
- Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting
- Stef Curry and Michael Jordan
- Volleyball and basketball
- Softball and baseball
- Soccer and American football
- Nascar and Formula 1
- Poker and blackjack
- Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
- WWE and UFC
- Cricket and baseball
- Arsenal and Manchester United
- Rugby league and rugby union
- Sprint swimming and long distance swimming
- Individual and team sports
- Hockey (on grass) and ice hockey
- Ballroom dancing and pairs figure skating
- Women’s basketball and men’s basketball
- Yoga and pilates
- Selfies and the first black and white photos
- Reality TV shows and YouTube videos
- Puerto Rico and Costa Rica
- Cute cat videos and cute baby videos
- Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres
- Steve Jobs and Walt Disney
- Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
- Facebook and Twitter
- Instagram and Snapchat
- Pandora and Spotify
- Tinder and real life dating
- Memes and graffiti
- Trolling and cyberbullying
- East Coast and West Coast
- Justin Bieber and Paul McCartney
- Taylor Swift and Beyonce
- Emo music and grunge music
- Pearl Jam and Nirvana
- The Spice Girls and ABBA
- Elvis Presley and Miley Cyrus
- Whitney Houston and Britney Spears
- Madonna and Kylie
- The Beatles and The Monkeys
- Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson
- Bossa nova and samba
- Smooth jazz and classical music
- Woodwind section and string section
- Online teaching and traditional teaching
- School choir and school band
- An active student and a passive student
- School violence and workplace violence
- School bullies and dictators
- Homeschooling and public school
- In-class activities and homework
- Writing and editing
- Memorizing material and understanding it
- A body paragraph and a contrast paragraph
- An essay topic and a thesis statement
- Digital textbooks and hard copies
- High school students and college students
- Point-by-point comparison and block method
- Early morning classes and evening classes
- Living in a dorm and living off campus
- Living with parents and living alone
- Classes and extracurricular activities
- Student clubs and Greek life on campus
- Grad school and working
- Study abroad and study at home
- A big college campus and a small college campus
History and Politics
- First man on the Moon and first Europeans in America
- England’s colonies in India and Africa
- Population control in China and population control in India
- Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia
- The Ottoman Empire and The Roman Empire
- ISIS and ISIL
- Al-Qaeda and ISIS
- Cold War and Vietnam War
- The Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge
- Pollution in United States and pollution in China
Faith and Religion
- Creationism and evolution
- Church sermons and campaign speeches
- Paganism and Catholicism
- The Bible and Torah
- Protestantism and Catholicism
- Catholic and Orthodox churches
- Judaism and Christianity
- The Pharisees and Sadducees
- The Anglican Church and the Episcopalian Church
- Islam and Sufism
- Tithing and Offering
- Justification and Sanctification
- Pastor and priest
- Synagogue and a Jewish Temple
- Hinduism and Buddhism
Science and Environment
- Volcanoes and earthquakes
- Mountains and volcanoes
- Apples and tomatoes
- Nuclear power and solar power
- Rainbows and lightning
- Gasoline and biodiesel
- Melons and citrus fruit
- Volcanoes and earthquakes
- Tornadoes and blizzards
- Hurricanes and blizzards
- Recycling and landfill
- Sugar and salt
- Paper bags and plastic packaging
- Coffee and energy drinks
- E-waste and radioactive waste
- A winter day and a summer day
- Mammals and reptiles
- Wolong Panda Reserve and Chengdu Breeding Centre
- Jungle animals and desert animals
- Animals in the zoos and animals in the wild
- Frogs and toads
- Ants and bees
- Grizzly Bears and polar bears
- Wolves and hounds
- Native fauna and introduced species
- Wild animals and feral animals
- Cat and dog
Computers and Technology
- Apple and Google
- PC and Mac
- Xbox and PlayStation
- Tablets and desktop computers
- Electric cars and petrol cars
- Linux and Windows
- Kindle and Nook
- Synthetic-aperture radar and real-aperture radar
- LinkedIn and SimplyHired
- Messengers and written correspondence
- Makeup and Photoshop
- Leonardo Da Vinci and Albert Einstein
- Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
- Hitler and Stalin
- Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth I
- Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela
- Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
- George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush
- Mother Teresa and Princess Diana
- Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson
- Adam Smith and Karl Marx
- Harriet Tubman and Andrew Jackson
Here are some more comparison speech topics to analogize, contrast, and balance two or more subjects, objects, plans, solutions or alternatives.
Show listeners which one has the most absolute or relative benefits, pros and cons, and of course explain why.
- A female friend and a male friend
- Marriage and civil unions
- Single moms and single dads
- McDonald’s and Taco Bell
- Exercising and dieting
- Gun control and homeless animal control
- Hunting in ancient times and modern times
- Immigrant and refugee
- City and suburbs
- Renting and owning
- Self-employed and employee
- Man and woman
Detailed topics with some notes and explanations:
- Private boarding schools, public education and home schooling.
- Which system is superior: capitalism (economic system designated on private or corporate rights) or socialism (mainly based on laws for social ownership and cooperation).
- Compare two SUV’s (sports utility vehicles) – arrange the corresponding equivalent and disadvantages in a product comparison and tell which one you would choose and why.
- Soprano saxes and alto saxophones, or comparison speech topics about your favourite musical instruments.
- Direct and indirect aid – what is the best way to help the developing world? Consider the two forms of helping support.
- Webhost x compared to webhost y? Tell about your personal experiences and provide tips for anyone who have to solve and make a tough choice.
- Ways to elect a President, make a comparison of the pros and cons, and the constitutional consequences and the political conditions.
- Creationism and evolution theories – is it science versus religion, or is it much more complicated than that?
- Which one should be abolished: monarchy or republic?
- Security measures versus individual freedom and personal privacy regulations. Judge the true and false arguments in the public debate.
- Are books better than television? These comparison speeches often cause impassionate debating.
- Is democracy the best form of government? Compare it to other forms of administration.
- Organizers and agenda note books, which time management type is preferable?
- Compare digital cameras, MP3s, media players, a notebook comparison or other electronic public speaking comparison speech topics.
- Organ donor opt-out system vs the opt-in system. What system do you favor?
- Perfumes – an ideal subject for a demonstrative comparison topic.
- Examinations or are other forms of assessment better?
- Nuclear and alternative energy sources? Explain which one we should explore to battle the energy crisis and the global warming effects.
- Two-party parliamentary system rather than a multi-party system?
- Make a cost of living comparison in two cities, regions, nations or parts of the world.
Compare and Contrast Examples
A compare and contrast technique is an important tool and helps organize thoughts and ideas to gain meaningful insights. It allows you to point out both differences and similarities between two or more topics. These differences are based on certain criteria and a conclusion on which of the discussed items is superior. Below are some compare and contrast outline examples. The topics are provided along with a proposed thesis and essay (or speech) structure suggestions.
Top 5 Best Dog Foods
A compare and contrast essay is a fantastic way to lay out different product options. These are written in a logical way and based on specific standards. This helps readers make an informed decision on what to buy.
In an essay like this, the writer could introduce the topic by appealing to the animal lover in people. The writer could then highlight the dangers and potentially life-shortening effects of feeding a pet the wrong food. This should be done by using real-life studies and examples. The topic for a thesis like this could be something like the following. “This article will discuss the best dog foods for your furry friend based on price, nutritional value and breed size.”
Structurally, the article would then list five different types of dog food. Then, in the body of each product, compare and contrast their price, nutritional value and appropriateness by breed size. Also, the writer should be including other pertinent information. This can be done in the form of client reviews and variety of flavors available. Also included in this section could be anything else the writers deems to be relevant per product.
In the conclusion, it is important to recap all the important points. Then, to choose a favorite or recommend a buy. In some cases, it is sufficient to recommend buying different products based on different values. The writer can state that for an owner that places great value on food being organic and free of GMOs, option A is the best buy. While for a price sensitive buyer option C is the best buy.
A Song of Ice and Fire; Who is Worthy of Sitting on the Iron Throne
While this example discusses a book/TV show, a compare and contrast article is a great way to organize thoughts. Using values and campaign promises for both a real life and fictional political race.
In this example, the writer can introduce the topic by vaguely introducing the story. It would be fair to assume the reader would be familiar with the series. The writer can then introduce the characters that are either in the running – or should be in the running – for power in Westeros. The topic for this thesis could be something like the following. “As Cersei Lannister boldly stated to Ned Stark in the first season,’When you play a game of throne, you win or you die'”.
Daenerys Targaryen, Sanza Stark and Cersei Lannister are all fierce female contenders to sit on the Iron Throne. However, only one will rule. This essay will evaluate each of these strong women. This comparison will be done through leadership skills, military prowess and political competence . This essay will determine which would be the most deserving ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
The body of an essay like this one could be split into three paragraphs, one for each female contender: Daenerys, Sanza and Cercei. It would then point out each of the character’s strengths and weaknesses and analyze their behaviors and actions, based on the criteria of leadership, military experience and political competence.
Each paragraph could also discuss other factors, such as Daenerys’s freeing of slaves and the fact that she is the mother of dragons,Sanza’s miraculous survival of the hornets’ nest that is Kings Landing and Cercei’s cruelty, as well as her ability to manipulate people.
To conclude, the writer should clearly designate a winner of who should rule between the three characters. They could also further entice the reader by mentioning other contenders for power in the series. The model for this type of essay can also be used to analyze candidates for a real life political race or any competition.
Metro vs. No Frills
A compare and contrast article can also be used to point out the differences between two almost identical corporations and distinguish where people should be shopping at and why. In this example, the entity is grocery stores.
The topic could be introduced as food is a necessity to life and continue on to the fact that anyone living in an urban center will use a grocery store. The introduction could also include statistics on millennial poverty or facts about food insecurity. A thesis for an article like this could state that: “Although they provide an identical and essential service, Metro and No Frills vary wildly in price, food quality and variety.”
In an article like this, the structure could focus on the criteria the grocery stores are being compared on as opposed to writing one paragraph about Metro and one paragraph about No Frills.
The first paragraph would be focused on price and compare costs for identical or similar products at each chain. The next paragraph would discuss the quality of food at each chain, perhaps focusing on specific categories, such as quality of meat. The final paragraph would concentrate on the variety of food at each chain, such as specialty cheeses or pre-prepared dinners. It could also discuss the availability of vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free items.
To conclude, the writer could do one of two things. Either label one chain the winner. Or could offer up pros and cons depending on the user’s specific needs. One chain may be more appropriate for a price-sensitive grocer. And while another may be better suited to someone with more complex dietary needs.
In conclusion, compare and contrast essays are a wonderful tool to help organize thoughts. Done by analyzing specific aspects of comparable products or people. They help writers identify both similarities and differences. While also providing a structured way to present this information to their readers.