Comparing and Contrasting in Writing Practice Exercises

Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Read the following study guide for a concept review:

Comparing and Contrasting in Writing Study Guide

Exercise 1

The following passage is a more complete comparison and contrast of Star Wars and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Read the passage carefully and actively, noting how each paragraph provides support for the overall main idea. Then answer the questions that follow the passage.

The Best of the Best

Two of the best films ever made are Star Wars and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I've seen both movies at least a dozen times. While I always will be a loyal Star Wars fan, I do have to say that Crouching Tiger is an even better film.

Both films feature warriors with special powers. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, a Jedi knight, has "the force"—a special energy that he can channel to help him overcome evil. Similarly, in Crouching Tiger, Li Mu Bai, Yu Shu Lien, and Jen all have special powers that they've developed through rigorous martial arts training. But the characters in Star Wars rely heavily on automatic weapons. The warriors in Crouching Tiger, in contrast, do all their fighting with old-fashioned weapons such as swords and the most old-fashioned weapon of all—their bodies. What they're able to do with their bodies is much more impressive than anything Luke Skywalker can do with his light saber.

More importantly, Crouching Tiger gives equal treatment to both sexes. In Star Wars, though Princess Leia can (and does) fight, she still relies mostly on the men to fight and save her. In Crouching Tiger, however, the female warriors are every bit as strong as the male warriors and do all the fighting on their own. Shu Lien, Jen, and another woman, Jade Fox, actually do most of the fighting in the movie and defeat many men throughout the film.

The best thing about Crouching Tiger, though, is the story of Jen. While Star Wars is a great story about good forces against evil forces, Crouching Tiger is a great story about a personal rebellion that all young people can relate to. Jen rebels against the society that is going to force her to marry. Who wants to be told whom to love? She rejects being forced into this relationship and runs off. She doesn't know how to handle her strength, though, and is so independent that she even rejects the chance to be Mu Bai's student. Under his guidance, Jen could have become an even greater warrior. But Jen is too independent, and she unintentionally helps to bring about Mu Bai's death and her own. Jen's story shows us that we have a right to determine the course of our lives, but that we also need the guidance of our elders.


  1. What is the similarity discussed in paragraph 3?
  2. What is the difference discussed in paragraph 3?
  3. What is the similarity discussed in paragraph 4?
  4. What is the difference discussed in paragraph 4?
  5. What is the main idea of paragraph 4?

Exercise 2

Suppose you wanted to compare or contrast readers (Item A) to detectives (Item B). Following are five characteristics of being a reader and five characteristics of being a detective. Only three characteristics in each list match.

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