Comparing and contrasting is an important skill when reading. It helps the reader to better analyze important elements of a story, such as the plot, setting, or characters. When comparing things, you simply look at the similarities of both. To better illustrate this, let’s compare a pig to a fish. Both animals have a tail. They both need oxygen to survive. And both can reproduce. In order to contrast two things, you need to identify what is different. It is important that you are specific as to which object you are referring to when listing differences. Let’s look at the same animals, only this time we’ll talk about them in contrast, identifying their differences. A fish has fins, and a pig does not. Fish get their oxygen from water, while pigs breathe air. Fish lay eggs during reproduction, yet pigs give birth to live young. A common way to organize similarities and differences is to use something called a Venn diagram. A Venn diagram is a way to organize your information. Each circle in the diagram represents one of the two things that you are comparing and contrasting. Notice how both circles share some common space. This is where you list the details that both items have in common. Each circle also has space that is not shared with the other circle. This space is reserved for details that are only true about each item. Let’s put our details about the pig and the fish on the Venn diagram. Remember, when making a comparison, you are noticing how things are alike. When you show contrast between two things, you are listing their differences.