Unformatted text preview: Discovering and Writing
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---------------- Joining Ideas to Show Contrast and Concession
One of the most common writing tasks you are likely to encounter in college,
in almost any classes you take, is that of making comparisons between two
ideas or things, to show their similarities, or making contrasts between them
to show their differences. An allied task-ne
that is even more common than
comparisons and contrasts-is to show relationships of concession.
Here is a short comparison passage: pI would like to offer some
bccess. I have here two objects. Both are round and about three inches in diameter. Both grow on trees, and both are edible. The one in my left hand
is considered a fruit, and the one in my right hand is also. So both are
normally found in the same section of the supermarket. pgbout contrasting things
a Here is a short contrast passage: bparism.
i+ b e received. have you
k a e P r o b l e m , or given
what it actually says, not
lace to work with a
tead your essay aloud
ear or awkward as you ;tepfioou have worked exceed- I have here two objects. The one in my left hand has a smooth red skin
and a stalk on one end, but the one in my right hand has a slightly pebbled orange skin and no stalk. The one in my left hand has a firm texture and sweet flavor, while the one in my right hand is pulpy and juicy
in the summer, whereas the orange one grows i n southern, warmer climates all year round. - Notice the connecting words in the two passages:
In the first: and, and, and, so
In the second: and, but, and, and, while, and, and, whereas
While both passages make liberal use of the most common joining word in
the language, and, the contrast passage employs three other words in central
places: but, while, and whereas.
Here is another short passage; whatjoining words does it use?
Mary is faced with a dilemma, which of two cars to buy. The red one is
sleek and attractive, and it has been newly painted, but it leaks oil and
smokes slightly, and its brakes and tires are in poor condition. The green
one is rather dingy, but it is in excellent mechanical condition. Although 198 Part I1 Discoz~ering nd Writing
a Mary finds the red one much more attractive, she decides that the green
one is a better purchase.
Up until the last sentence, we have the familiar words of comparison and
contrast: and and but. Then we find a new word, although. This word enters
because the last sentence does something none of the other sentences does;
it shows a relationship of concession between the two parts of the sentence.
You will remember from studying subordinators that these words indicate opI
position between ideas: although, though, even though, while, and zuh~reas. t is
now time to qualifi that statement. It is true that all of those words d o show
opposition, but three of them-although, though, and men though-also show
concession, and in fact that is their main function. What Is Concession?
To concede a point is to admit that it is true. In argument or discussion, we
often must admit that some of the things our opponent says are true. For instance, John argues that oranges are better than apples, while Mary argues
the opposite. Mary points out that the skin of apples is m ore pleasant to the
touch than the skin of oranges. John has to admit that this is true, so he says:
Although apples have m ore pleasant skins, oranges are superior in many
John has used although to concede a point. He could also have used though
( more i nformal) or even though (more emphatic). He might even have used
while or zohereas, although these words are better at showing contrasts than at
You will remember the miention of trarlsition words a t the end of Chapter 3.
Two c ommon transition words that you may want to use occasionally in writing comparison/contrast essays are howmerand on the other hand. Summary of Comparison/Contrast Words
We have now looked at a number ofjoining words that you will need to use in
writing essays, paragraphs, or sentences involving comparison, contrast, and
concession. These words fall into three categories:
Coordinators Subordinators Transition Words a nd although however but though on the other hand even though
Remember the differences among these words: Coordinators may.join independent sentences; when they do, put a c omma in f ront of the coordinator. Coordinators may also irltroduce sentences: [I Discov~ri~zg d Mrriting
t decides that the green words of comparison and
zlthou,ch. T his tcord e nters
'the other sentences does;
two parts of the sentence.
at these words indicate opigh, zuhzle, a nd zwherenc. I t is
all of those words d o show
2nd n l e n though-also ?how C hapter 4 L e a ~ n i ~ byg Conlbming
l Mary likes handball, but John prefers jogging.
Mary likes handball. But John p refersjogging.
S ubordinators join dependent clauses to sentences; when t he d ependent
clause comes first, put a conlnla after it; when it follou~s he sentence, d o n ot
use a comma.
While Mary likes e lephants,John prefers penguins.
John prefers penguins while Mary likes elephants.
Transition words do not join sentences and may b e placed within or at t he
end of a sentence instead of at the beginning of it.
Mary likes a gnod time: however. John mopes.
Mary likes a good time; John, however, mopes. irgument o r discussion, we
says are t rue. For inapples, while Mary argues
ples is m ore pleasant to the
: that this is true, so hc says: )orient lges are superior in many
could also have used though
. He might even have used
it showing contrasts than at
vds at the end of Chapter 3 .
. to use occasior~ally n writi r the other h and. i that you will need to use in ; comparison, contrast., and
Transition Words Using Joining Words to Show Emphasis
T here is one final difference between c oordirlalors a nd subordinators that
you n eed to know. W e n t he coordinator h itjoins two sentences, the ideas in
the two sentences get equal emphasis. But when the subordinators such as although, whmeas, a nd whilejoin sentences, the idea following the s ubordillator
gets played down somewhat.
Here you are trying to sell your battered old car, which you have taken
beautiful care of. I t d oesn't look very good, but it runs like a whiz. You have
two customers, A a nd B, who have looked it over and taken it for a test drive.
They now speak: A: 'Well, altliough it doesn't look very good, it certainly runs well."
B: 'Well, although it runs well, it certainly doesn't look very g ood."
W ho d o you think is most like11 to buy it?
As it turns out, neither A n or B buys it. ( A would have, but at the last moment, she got a phone call telling h er t hat her rich uncle Fred had just given
her a Mercedes-Benz.) So h ere you are again, facing two prospective customers along with the f riend of one of t hem, w ho is n o t in the market for a
car. The three people make the follouling c omments. Who is leaning toward
buying the car, who is leaning toward not buying it, a nd w ho is the neutral
on the other hand ; C oordinators
: may j oin inla in front of the c oordina- C : "Although it's rather ugly, it's in excellent condition."
D: "It's rather ugly, but it's in excellent condition."
E: "Although it's in excellent condition, it's rather ugly." I n all of the examples above, the subordinate clause (the a lthough clause)
has come at the b eginning of its sentence, but, as you know, such clauseb c an
just as easily come at the end of sentences:
It's in excellent condition although it's rather ugly. ...
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- Spring '11
- Independent Clause, Dependent clause, clause