Chapter 10-4-2: Paragraph Development by Comparison and Contrast

Grammar > Writing Paragraphs > Paragraphs > Comparison & Contrast

You should consider developing your paragraph by comparison and contrast when you are describing two or more things which have something, but not everything, in common. You may choose to compare either point by point (X is big, Y is little; X and Y are both purple.) or subject by subject (X is big and purple; Y is small and purple.). Consider, for example, the following paragraph:

Although the interpretation of traffic signals may seem highly standardized, close observation reveals regional variations across this country, distinguishing the East Coast from Central Canada and the West as surely as dominant dialects or political inclinations. In Montreal, a flashing red traffic light instructs drivers to careen even more wildly through intersections heavily populated with pedestrians and oncoming vehicles. In startling contrast, an amber light in Calgary warns drivers to scream to a halt on the off chance that there might be a pedestrian within 500 meters who might consider crossing at some unspecified time within the current day. In my home town in New Brunswick, finally, traffic lights (along with painted lines and posted speed limits) do not apply to tractors, all terrain vehicles, or pickup trucks, which together account for most vehicles on the road. In fact, were any observant Canadian dropped from an alien space vessel at an unspecified intersection anywhere in this vast land, he or she could almost certainly orient him-or-herself according to the surrounding traffic patterns.

This paragraph compares traffic patterns in three areas of Canada. It contrasts the behaviour of drivers in the Maritimes, in Montreal, and in Calgary, in order to make a point about how attitudes in various places inform behaviour. People in these areas have in common the fact that they all drive; in contrast, they drive differently according to the area in which they live.

It is important to note that the paragraph above considers only one aspect of driving (behaviour at traffic lights). If you wanted to consider two or more aspects, you would probably need more than one paragraph.

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