How to Write a Commentary Essay

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Originally published May 13, 2017, updated Apr 29, 2021
How to Write a Commentary Essay

In a commentary essay, you provide a detailed analysis of the writing piece given to you. Now you might be thinking that what comes under "detailed analysis"? Well, you will be commenting on the theme, language, and other characteristics of the passage. Writing commentary is not that difficult. Just follow the structure, and you will nail this sort of academic writing.

Introduction of a Literary Commentary

Before you embark on the journey of writing a compelling introduction, remember that commentary involves personal reaction, so you will have to determine it beforehand. Begin this paragraph by providing a summary of the passage. Do not get carried away by stating issues that fall outside the material realm that you are analyzing. The assumption here is that the reader has already gone through the original passage. Similar to the traditional essays, you will be starting with a hook or an attention grabber. This will help you attract the reader's attention, and they will want to dive deeper into your commentary. You will use this part to point out the structure of the passage.

It is just like those high school poems, where you had to analyze the rhythm. Other than the structural aspects, you will be shedding light on the thematic aspects as well. Before you take a step forwards and move to the structural or thematic aspects, take your time to develop a holistic thesis statement. Always place it at the very end of the introduction paragraph. Remember, do not write all of your comments in this paragraph. You have to follow a sequence, so keep those reins in your hands!

Overview of the Content

Once you are done with a compelling introduction, the reader will have great expectations from you regarding the rest of the content. Remember, this is a literary analysis of the original work. So, you will be introducing the key points of the article only. Start by analyzing the passage. Discuss the dialogue and language used. You will also state how an idea contributes to the rest of the work.

Then comes the structure. Talk about repetitions and the events that lead to the climax. Do not feel shy from commenting on the narration. You must provide an analysis of the overall tone of the author. Is the passage formal or informal? Feel free to give your reaction to the content. Keep in mind that this part is a general overview. You will be providing detailed analysis in the next paragraphs. So, refrain from writing long, complex sentences to cover all of your points.

Detailed Analysis of the Work

Now comes the most substantial section. Unlike the introduction and overview, you can stretch it out. Do not keep it simple or redundant by making similar comments. Take a step forwards from the "description" of the original content. Go ahead and analyze the language of the paragraphs. Read between the lines and dissect the entire work. Here are some of the aspects that you will bring into the limelight:

  • The sentence structure;
  • The tenses that are used throughout the passage;
  • Repetition of words;
  • Figurative language such as allegory, metaphors, irony, etc.;
  • Characterization;
  • Narration;
  • Vocabulary;
  • Alliteration;
  • Rhyme (poetry and prose).

Try to concentrate on the points that are relevant to your work. Do not make comments just for the sake of the word limit. As your commentary will lose its value and, in the worst scenario, the attention of your reader. When providing analysis, talk about how the author formulates the perfect amalgam of all of the above points to produce his piece. The goal is to stay relevant, neither reprimand the author nor engage in praise. When making a point about a certain part, do quote it. In this way, the reader will not have to go back and forth to check the particular section in the original work. You should ask for a sample from your professor. Go through this content and see how professionals analyze a passage in great detail.

Conclusion

Imagine a 3D cylinder! It has two ends. Similarly, a commentary essay has two ends that secure the entire content. One is the introduction that diverges and helps the reader to get familiar with the idea. The other is a conclusion, which converges and wraps up your essay. Here you cannot state any new ideas. If you have forgotten to include a certain point, then adjust that in the body paragraphs.

Do not provide any supporting points or evidence for something you have discussed in the analysis part. Never cite a source in this part. That train has already left the station, so your focus should solely be on putting an end to your writing. It is better to summarize your findings and discuss the aspects that you mentioned. Shed light on the significance of the passage. Keep your conclusion short and to the point. Refrain from paying tribute to the writer for an exemplary piece of work. This essay has to be limited to the discussion of what is in the original article.

Do's and Don'ts Checklist for a Commentary Essay

Whenever you are writing a commentary, keep this checklist in front of you. These will help you in writing a top-notch commentary. This checklist includes not only the points, don't's, and recommendations regarding a commentary essay.

DO'S

  • Always stay within the boundaries of commentary. Refrain from including an appreciation for the original content;
  • Always cite the sources that you have used;
  • Always include a key title that summarizes the content. Try including the keywords from your thesis statement as well as from the original piece;
  • Always provide complete information about the original content. You must state everything from the author's information to the publishing date of the research paper;
  • Always go through your work twice. Fix grammatical and structural mistakes.

DON'TS

  • Do not summarize the entire content as it will be of no value to the reader. Just briefly touch on the original work;
  • Do not bombard the content by including irrelevant citations. Try to use the resources that contribute to your stance;
  • Do not give sweeping statements;
  • Do not copy anything from the sources that can later create an issue of plagiarism.

Here, a word of advice is that you must go through some samples that you can easily find on the online writing services. Check how the writers use the English language. Do read the main points. Your commentary must mirror the same level of professionalism.

Now that you know how to write a commentary essay, get your laptop and get started. Go through the original content and focus on the analysis part. Take help from the checklist to make sure that your work is exemplary!

Tasha Kolesnikova
Content Team Member

I write articles and do SEO-optimisation here at Studybay. I'm obsessed with creating content both people and Google love, surfing in Portugal, and dancing Jazz-funk.