Identifying a Comparison Made in a Reading
Being able to identify a comparisonA discussion of two or more things based on the categories of characteristics they share. Written comparisons must include both the subjects being compared and the similarities and/or differences between the subjects. in a readingA piece of writing to be read. A reading can either be a full work (i.e., a book) or partial (i.e., a passage). is a skill that you can use to help you read more efficiently and effectively. Comparison articlesA non-fiction, often informative writing that forms a part of a publication, such as a magazine or newspaper. and essaysA short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. are arranged in logical patterns. This lesson will help you identify the two major elements of a comparative reading as well as the two organizational strategiesA plan for arranging the structure of an outline or essay. There are many different strategies, such as point-by-point, subject-by-subject, or order of events. .
All comparisons include subjectsThe people, places, things, or ideas being discussed or described. , which are the people, places, things, or ideas being compared. All comparisons also include the points of comparisonThe criteria by which subjects are compared and/or contrasted., that is, the criteriaThe standards or rules used to decide or judge something. being used to compare the subjects.
To identify the subjects, try the following strategies:
To identify the points of comparison, it is useful to identify the organizational strategy. Once you have figured this out, the criteria will be evident.
Comparisons are arranged in one of two ways, point-by-pointAn organizational strategy for a comparison or compare and contrast essay. In this method, the writer lists the major points of comparison/contrast between subjects, and discusses them one at a time. A point-by-point comparison is useful for subjects that have many points of comparison because the reader can consider both subjects side-by-side. or subject-by-subjectAn organizational strategy for a comparison or compare and contrast essay. In this method, a single subject is discussed in detail, followed by a similar examination of the other subject. A subject-by-subject comparison is best used for less complex arguments that have fewer points, so that the reader can remember the points made about the first subject while learning about the second..
Once you have highlighted the subjects in the comparison, it should be clear which organizational strategy the writer used. If it is a point-by-point strategy, the writer will discuss points of comparison, or common aspects, of the two subjects. For example, he or she might discuss the health benefits of apples and oranges, followed by the costs of apples and oranges, and so on.
If it is a subject-by-subject strategy, the writer will first discuss aspects of apples, then discuss parallelUsing the same pattern of words to describe ideas in order to create balance in a writing. Parallel structure can be at the word-, phrase-, clause-, sentence-, and even paragraph-level. aspects of oranges. It is very important that the aspects being discussed are parallel, or the same. If the writer discusses how apples taste, but how oranges look, then that is not a real comparison. It is merely stating facts about each one.
These are simple examples, but think about how they apply to more important ideas. If an advertiser, for example, tries to convince you that one car is better than another, you must be sure that the advertiser is comparing the same aspects. If not, he is not being honest. Likewise, if a writer compares and contrasts two theories about the causes of the Civil War and concludes that one is more accurate, you should make sure that the writer is making parallel comparisons between the two to arrive at this conclusion.+ PRACTICAL APPLICATION
Knowing the difference between subject-by-subject and point-by-point organizational strategies is like knowing the difference between your two favorite grocery stores. Both stores have all the things that you need, but the items will be located in different places. When you know the differences between the two stores, you can quickly find what you need in either place. It is the same with identifying organization in a reading. Both organizational strategies include the same elements, but they are organized differently.
Once you have practiced recognizing the organizational strategies used in writing, they will become easier to identify. This will make it much easier to read quickly and effectively and to recognize valid comparisons. This, in turn, will help you to make better choices, whether it be choosing between classes or evaluating arguments to see which is more compelling.
Read each of the essays below. For each, note the subjects, the points of comparison, and the organizational strategy (whether it is a subject-by-subject or point-by-point comparison).
A trip to a renowned vacation area awaits you. Should you make plans to camp or stay in a hotel? Either option presents a range of advantages, from your social experience to your enjoyment of the natural features of the area.
If you can find a nice campground with roomy sites and some privacy, camping can be a great choice. For one, your home away from home—shelter, bed, and utensils—will be comprised of all your own equipment, which can add an element of familiarity and comfort to your trip. Lacking walls or doors around you, you will also have more opportunities to meet other travelers, and you will be open to the sights, sounds, and smells of a makeshift community—kids at play, laughter, music, food cooking, and fires burning. Finally, being open to natural beauty can be uplifting and renewing, and the occasional thunderstorm can be an exciting adventure. While the weather may not always cooperate, camping can be a fun and relaxing way of experiencing a destination.
A clean, attractive hotel or motel, however, can offer some distinct advantages as well. Since a hotel will provide your shelter, beds, linens, and other items, you will not need to pack as much or to clean anything except your clothes; moreover, by offering walls and a door, hotels ensure that you will be able to retreat definitively from society and to choose when to interact with other people and go out into the weather. As a result, you run less risk of suffering a noisy neighbor, and heat, cold, rain, wind, thunder, or insects that might put a damper on your vacation. You may still enjoy the great outdoors and the companionship of others, but it will be at your convenience. If you would prefer to have that extra measure of comfort and control, a hotel would be a better choice.
Any vacation can be dramatically different based on where you choose to stay. Camping presents some risks, but those risks can pay off and result in more adventure and fun. Hotels, however, are more likely to provide a more predictable atmosphere that you may need to relax. Either option can result in an enjoyable and rewarding vacation.
Subjects: outdoor camping versus staying in a hotel or motel
Points of comparison:
Organizational strategy: subject-by-subject
Here is another example.
Today's athletes might be surprised that the earliest runners did so while nude. As uncomfortable as that sounds, running is a great way to keep healthy, clothes or no clothes. Recent studies show that walking also offers similar benefits. Both are a great way to get in shape; however, one should understand the unique features of each before choosing between a running and a walking regimen.
Running and walking require different levels of time commitment. It is entirely possible to burn as many calories walking as it is running, but it will take much longer. The exact numbers depend upon how fast you run versus how fast you walk, but a good rule of thumb to remember is that it takes twice as long to walk off the same number of calories as it does to run them off. If you have a limited amount of time and want to burn as many calories as you can, running might be a better option; however, you may not be able to run very long, and in that case, walking, or at least a combination of the two, could be the best choice.
While both activities burn calories, their other benefits are quite different. Interestingly, studies show that runners are thinner than walkers, even when the two groups expend the same amount of energy. Researchers believe that running produces an appetite- suppressing hormone that walking does not. However, if you are looking to do more than lose weight, you may want to stick to walking. Walkers had a lower incidence of age-related cataracts when compared to both runners and the general population. Walkers also had lower incidences of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. Which activity is best for you depends upon your health goals.
The last consideration one should make before choosing between a walking or running plan is the effort each requires. While it seems different than what you might expect, to stay healthy, runners actually need to slow down from time to time as they run. Walking breaks reduce injury. On the other hand, walkers would greatly benefit from picking up the pace a bit. This has been shown to lengthen walkers' lives. It seems that a combination of the two might offer more benefits than just one or the other. Hopefully future studies will delve into that very question.
According to a 2012 study in PLOS Medicine, people will gain seven more minutes of life for every six minutes that they exercise, and both running and walking can be excellent choices for you to increase your life expectancy and your overall lifestyle. As with any exercise routine, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new fitness regimen.
Subjects: walking versus running
Points of comparison:
Organizational strategy: point-by-point
Read each of the essays below. For each, identify the subjects, the points of comparison, and the organizational strategy (whether it is a subject-by-subject or point-by-point comparison).
If you are planting new trees in your yard, your first consideration may be whether to choose evergreens (trees that stay green all year long) or deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the fall). What are the advantages of each? Both provide shade and beauty, but they will function differently throughout the year. To ensure that you will enjoy your trees at every stage of their long lives, consider the strengths of both types of trees before you make your decision.
Evergreen trees have pine needles or flat leaves and can be useful and attractive additions to your yard. With their dense branches and thick foliage, they can serve as ideal "working trees" to provide privacy, sound barriers, and windbreaks, and since they never lose their leaves, you will enjoy these advantages year-round. In addition, they grow quickly, and you will not have to wait long if your need for privacy or shade is acute. An evergreen's unique shapes and intense colors will add beauty to your yard in every season: their cool greens will stand in contrast to warmer fall colors, and they will remain bright against the grays and browns of winter. Consider these trees to add beauty, protection, and diversity to your deciduous tree plantings.
Deciduous trees have different but equally useful qualities that can enhance your yard. As "working trees," deciduous trees' wide canopies provide large areas of shade, and their sparse lower branches will not block ground-level views. While they do not grow as fast as many evergreens, these trees live longer, and you can count on enjoying their benefits for many years to come. Because deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and develop new ones in the spring, you will enjoy their seasonal changes in color and form. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, they produce beautifully shaped and colorful flowers, leaves, and fruit in succession, and they lose their leaves in an unrivalled fall spectacle of orange, red, and gold. These changes also ensure that you will not only enjoy more shade in summertime but added light and warmth in winter. As handsome as evergreens, deciduous trees have a similarly wide range of strengths.
If you have the opportunity to plant trees in your yard, consider the many positive points of both evergreen and deciduous trees. Evergreens may have the advantage of maintaining their color and usefulness throughout the year, but deciduous trees, as they change, offer exceptional beauty and still serve many additional purposes as well. The choice of either will be a wonderful benefit to your home.
What are the subjects?
evergreen trees versus deciduous trees
What are the points of comparison?
What is the organizational strategy?
If you are looking for a large, intelligent, active dog to provide service or companionship, many breeds could fit the bill. Of these, the German shepherd and the golden retriever are among the most popular, yet they are distinct in background and temperament. Their unique abilities make them suitable for different families and work roles.
While German shepherds were bred to herd sheep and golden retrievers to retrieve game, they share many of qualities that have made them excel at each job. Intelligent, obedient, and easily trainable, they are both eager to please and willing to work hard. Each has a superb sense of smell and is extremely agile, physical traits that fit them for their roles in hunting and herding. In other ways, they are suited best for their traditional tasks. Since shepherds are curious, protective, and territorial by nature, they have made superior watchdogs over sheep; with their love of water and gentle mouths, goldens are expert retrievers of waterfowl and other game. As such, they have been prized as working animals for many years.
Their traditional breeding has made shepherds and goldens proficient at some modern roles but less adept at others. With their intelligence, trainability, and acute senses of smell, both breeds are used both for search-and-rescue missions and detection work, where they identify explosives, illegal drugs, blood, and other scents. However, while shepherds were once the most popular guide dog for the blind, recent studies have suggested new roles for them. Since experiments show that shepherds excel at aggressive and defensive behavior, they are now more likely to be chosen for military and police work. Goldens, meanwhile, have been found to be more emotionally stable, friendly, and cooperative, and are now among the top breeds favored for guide work. As family pets, shepherds make excellent watchdogs, though they must be carefully socialized to be accepting of strangers. Goldens are valued for their gentle friendliness and are a good choice for families with young children and many visits from friends.
German shepherds and golden retrievers fulfill some of the most critical roles we have for working dogs, and they make wonderful companion animals. Traditionally developed for hunting and herding, they still perform those skills beautifully while expanding into new fields. They are as important to us as ever and are loved in our homes today.
What are the subjects?
German shepherds versus golden retrievers
What are the points of comparison?
What is the organizational strategy?
How can you tell if a reading is a subject-by-subject or point-by-point?
I can go through and highlight the subjects or most used words and determine from there if the author is writing about first one subject, then the other, or if he or she discusses common aspects of the two subjects.
What is the benefit in identifying the organizational structure of a comparison reading?
If I identify the organizational structure, it makes it easier to understand the points of comparison. It will also help me evaluate the quality of the comparisons being made and whether or not they are true comparisons. That will help me to evaluate the quality of the overall argument.
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