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Writing a Commentary Essay

examples of a commentary essay

Writing a commentary essay as part of homework or as an assignment during class can be a daunting task, however it is not as complicated as it seems. A commentary essay is simply an analysis of a text, movie or any other media. In order to write a good commentary essay, you must first understand the purpose of the assignment: whether your instructor wants you to take a certain position on the piece or to simply analyze and draw your own conclusions.

Once you have determined the purpose of the essay, you can begin to gather your evidence and form your argument. Start by taking notes on what you think are the most important aspects of the text, film, etc. that you are analyzing. What themes are present? What symbols do you notice? does the author/director structure the work in an interesting way? How does the media make you feel? Once you have a list of points, it is time to start organizing them. It can be helpful to think of your essay as having three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introduction should introduce the text or movie that you are discussing and provide a brief summary for readers who are not familiar with it. The body of your essay should delve into each point that you noted in your analysis, providing evidence from the text or movie to support your argument. The conclusion should summarize your main points and leave readers with something to think about.

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When writing a commentary essay, it is important to remain objective and analytical. Do not simply state your opinion on the text or movie; rather, use evidence from the work itself to support your claims.

What is a Commentary Essay?

A commentary essay, also known as an analytic essay, is a type of writing that examines and evaluates a text. In a commentary essay, you will analyze a text and offer your own interpretation or opinion of it. You will use evidence from the text to support your analysis. Commentary essays are usually assigned in college-level English courses.

How to start Commentary in an Essay

When you begin writing a commentary essay on a text, it is important to read the text carefully and annotate it. Annotation means making notes in the margins or on the text itself. As you read, take note of the author’s argument or main point. Also pay attention to any supporting evidence they provide. As you read, think about how well the author makes their case and whether or not you agree with them.

Once you have a good understanding of the text, you can begin to write your essay. The first paragraph of your essay should introduce the text and provide a brief overview of it. In the second paragraph, you will offer your interpretation of the author’s argument. In the third paragraph, you will discuss any evidence the author provides to support their argument. In the fourth paragraph, you will offer your own opinion on the argument. Finally, in the fifth paragraph, you will summarize the author’s argument and state whether or not you agree with it.

When writing a commentary essay, it is important to remember that you are offering your own interpretation of the text. You should back up your arguments with evidence from the text, but you should also be clear about your own opinion. Be sure to state your position clearly and explain why you hold that opinion.

How to write a commentary essay in 5 steps

Here are steps to help you write a great commentary essay:

Read and understand the prompt thoroughly.

Make sure you understand the question or topic being asked. If you are not sure what is being asked, ask your instructor. Reading and understanding the topic is the first step in writing a commentary essay.

Brainstorm your ideas.

Come up with a few different topics or angles that you could explore in your essay. Jot down some thoughts on each topic. To brainstorm effectively, you don’t need to worry about writing complete sentences. Just get your ideas down on paper.

Choose one topic or angle to focus on. Once you’ve decided on a main idea, start fleshing out your essay by including supporting details and examples. If you’re not sure where to start, try brainstorming again or freewriting.

Develop a thesis statement.

Once you have chosen a topic, develop a thesis statement that will guide your essay. Your thesis should be arguable and state your position on the topic. Thesis statements are important in any type of essay, but especially in a commentary essay. A thesis statement is one or two sentences that state your main idea or argument about the topic you are writing about. A good thesis statement will be clear and specific and will give readers an idea of what to expect from your essay.

Do your research.

Before you start writing, it is important to do your research on the topic you are writing about. If you are not familiar with the subject matter, it will be difficult to write a coherent and well-informed essay. Look for reliable sources of information that can help you understand the topic better.

Create an outline.

Once you have a general idea of what you want to say, create an outline to organize your thoughts. This will make it easier to write your essay coherently. An outline in a commentary essay usually includes the following: an introduction, body paragraphs that support your thesis statement, and a conclusion.

Write your essay.

Now it’s time to write your essay. Begin with an introduction that states your thesis and provides background information on your topic.

Start with a strong hook. Your opening sentence should grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read more. You could try starting with a striking statistic or an interesting story.

Then, write body paragraphs that support your thesis. Finally, conclude your essay with a paragraph that summarizes your main points and restates your thesis.

Edit and proofread.

Once you have finished writing, take a break and then come back to edit and proofread your work. This is an important step in the writing process, so don’t skip it!

With these tips in mind, you should be well on your way to writing a great commentary essay.

Commentary essay outline

A basic commentary essay will have the same structure as any normal essay. It will have an introduction, body and conclusion. However, a commentary essay is unique in that it will also have annotations. Annotations are brief explanations or interpretations of the text. They can be inserted directly into the text or placed in brackets beside the text.

Annotations can be used to:

  • Explain difficult words or phrases
  • Provide historical context
  • Comment on the author’s arguments
  • Point out irony or sarcasm
  • Offer your own interpretation of the text

Here is how to create an essay outline when writing a commentary essay:

  • Introduce your topic.
  • Discuss your main point or argument.
  • Support your argument with evidence.
  • Explain the significance of your argument.
  • Summarize your points and suggest ways to further explore the topic.

Commentary essay examples

W131 commentary essay writing guide example.

examples of a commentary essay

Commentary essay outline example

The following is an outline of a commentary essay on Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”

Introduction :

In this essay, Swift proposes that the Irish poor should sell their children to rich English landowners as a way to reduce the economic burden on the country. He uses satire to make his point, and the annotations will help explain some of his more subtle jokes.

  • Swift begins by outlining the dire situation in Ireland, which is plagued by poverty and overpopulation.
  • He then proposes his “solution” of selling Irish children as food for the rich.
  • Swift uses irony and sarcasm to show how ridiculous this proposal is, and how callous the rich are towards the poor.
  • He finishes by pointing out that this sort of thing actually happens in England all the time, with poor people being treated as nothing more than commodities.

Conclusion :

  • Swift’s proposal is a scathing indictment of the English aristocracy and their treatment of the Irish poor.
  • The annotations provide further explanation of Swift’s arguments and help to show why his essay is so powerful.


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Analysis paper.

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School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Writing a literary commentary: guidelines, what is a commentary.

  • First and foremost, a literary commentary is NOT an essay. The passage in front of you is not, therefore, an invitation to write a general essay about the work from which it has been taken.
  • A commentary is an analysis of the given passage, its function and its characteristics. It should examine the key themes and stylistic devices of the passage, showing how the language works to convey (or at times undermine) its content.
  • A commentary should relate the passage to the rest of the work (novel, collection of poems, etc.), but remain focused in the main on the details of the passage itself.
  • Make sure that your commentary covers the whole passage. For instance, if you are given a poem with five stanzas, you should try to say something about each stanza.
  • Use line numbers (in both poetry and prose) in your commentary, rather than wasting time by quoting at length.
  • When you do quote, make sure that your comments don't simply repeat what the quotation already says: 'In the line "Il pleut dehors", the poet tells us that it is raining outside ...'
  • Avoid verbosity or inaccurate terminology. Clarity and precision are top priorities, and polysyllabic words do not improve a commentary.
  • Don't use words like 'effective', 'atmospheric', or 'beautiful' unless you are also explaining what the effect, atmosphere or beauty of the passage are, and how they are achieved. 

How should I write my commentary?

There are no fixed rules for writing a commentary, but a general structure will be suggested. You should always PLAN your commentary before you start writing it, following these guidelines where appropriate.

1 Introduction

  • Put the passage into context , and summarise its arguments briefly (in a few sentences): do not spend too much time discussing matters outside of the passage.
  • You should assume that your reader has read the work from which the passage has been taken.
  • You may want to point out the passage's most important thematic and structural aspects in your introduction.
  • Introduce the main themes and structural aspects of the passage.
  • What kind of passage is it (description/dialogue/free indirect speech), and what is its function (in the rest of the work)?
  • What is its overall structure (repetitious/circuIar/leitmotifs/develops to a climax)?
  • What is the narrative point of view (first-person/third-person/omniscient or not)?
  • What are the register (high/low) and tone (comic/surreal) of the passage?

3 Detailed Analysis

This is the most substantial part of the commentary. It should not be simple description or paraphrase, but an analysis of how the language of the passage functions. The following are aspects of the text that you should look for:

  • Sentence structure
  • Tense usage
  • Word order (balance or lack thereof, harmony, repetition, parallels)
  • Figurative language (imagery, metaphors, similes, symbolism, allegory, personification, myth, antithesis, irony, paradox)
  • Characterisation (or lack thereof)
  • Narrative technique/point of view (first/third person, limited point of view, stream of consciousness)
  • Punctuation
  • Alliteration, assonance, rhyme (poetry and prose)

Remember that no text is likely to have instances of all of these elements, and that it is best to concentrate on those that are most relevant to the passage in question. Also, you should avoid simply commenting on the appearance of a particular technique: make sure you say why this is worth noticing. Ideally, your comments should cohere to explain how the various linguistic devices combine to produce the overall effect intended by the author.

4 Conclusion

  • Summarise your findings, drawing together the different aspects of the text that you have discussed in your commentary.
  • Assess briefly the achievements and significance of the passage, both in itself and in relation to the work from which it is taken.

  Some useful aids to commentary-writing  

  • Nurse, P. (ed.), The Art of Criticism: Essays in French Literary Analysis (Edinburgh, 1969) (sample commentaries of French literary texts)  
  • Biard, J. D., Lexique pour I 'explication de texte (Exeter, 1980)  
  • Benac, H., Vocabulaire de la dissertation (Paris, 1949)

  (Binac and Biard provide lists of technical terms used in close analysis of a literary text in French, and give explanations and examples of usage)  


Commentary Essay Outline

  • Author Miriam M.

A commentary essay is meant to give your opinion, analysis, evaluation, or personal reaction about a specific detail in an essay or literary work. A commentary essay is mostly used for news and magazine publications. It is mostly focused on a complete analysis and a detailed description of a given text.

  Commentary Essay Outline

The following is a commentary essay outline:

1. Title. The commentary essay’s title should be:

  • Precise. Your essay’s title should be relevant and in line with your topic.
  • Short. Your title should be as short as possible to make it clear and easily understandable.
  • Interesting. Your title should be catchy to grab the reader’s attention. Include the relevant keywords.

2. Introduction. The introduction should include the following:

  • Hook. Write an interesting phrase or sentence to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Author. Include the name of the literary work’s author.
  • Title. State the title of the book or literary work in your introduction.
  • Main characters. State the main characters involved in the essay or literary work you are writing a commentary about.
  • A short summary. Give a short summary of the literary work in your commentary essay.
  • Thesis statement. Write a thesis statement to state your essay’s claim.

3. First body paragraph. Your first body paragraph should include:

  • Topic sentence. State what the paragraph will discuss and how you are going to prove your thesis.
  • The context for the quote. State who says the quote and what is happening in the text when they say the quote.
  • Cite a quote from the text.
  • Provide an analysis of the quote and state how it proves your thesis.
  • Closing sentence. Wrap up the paragraph with a transition sentence to the next paragraph.

4. Second body paragraph. Your second body paragraph should include:

5. third body paragraph. your third body paragraph should include:.

  • Context for the quote. State who says the quote and what is happening in the text when they say the quote.

6. Conclusion. Your conclusion should:

  • Give a summary of your argument.
  • Extend your argument.
  • Show why the text is important.

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Commentary Essay Topics

50+ commentary essay topics for any academic occasion.

The essay is one of the most common assignments during study at universities. A well-handled essay delivered on time will consolidate knowledge of the subject and teach the basics of public speeches and the rules of creating scientific texts.

Often the quality of essays (especially commentary) is determined by the right choice of topic. Even though the essay topics about commentary can be almost any, its choice leads to difficulties. Sometimes the topic is too complex and does not correspond to the level of the performer.

Sometimes the topic is too little studied and more suitable for research or dissertation than a commentary essay. Also, the topic can be too narrow and therefore poorly represented in the sources available to the student. To avoid these and other mistakes, we have prepared this article.

How to Select the Best Commentary Essay Topic?

The simplest procedure is to choose a topic from a pre-prepared list. Choice of the topic from the list with recommendations below. Students of almost any specialty can use this list. This list is not a direct guide to use. You can independently modify any theme to suit your specialty better.

 Criteria for Selection of Commentary Essay Topic

Understanding of the topic. The topic you are going to address should be clear to you. If you cannot understand it 100%, then writing will be a great challenge.

The abundance of material . Try to find materials on the chosen topic on the Internet. If they are sufficient, they will serve as a basis for carrying out the main part of the work and assist you in formulating commentaries, conclusions, and other elements of the paper.

Having an interest in the subject . If you choose a topic you are not enthusiastic about, working with the paper will become torture. You will always force yourself to do unpleasant work. Listen to yourself. What topic resonates with you? What would you like to read and think about? Working with a topic like this will energize you and give you satisfaction.

Relevance of topic . Sometimes you have to choose a topic that is relevant to your future development. This applies primarily to the main subjects of your specialty. You can reduce your work by commenting on a few books related to your specialty.

Topic potential . We learn not so much to know but to develop a variety of skills and abilities. Many students do not like to write essays just because they think: «Why do I need it? I will not be able to apply this knowledge anywhere». This is especially true for additional subjects in the field of specialization.

However, if you treat a paper as an opportunity to learn how to express thoughts, analyze, structure, generalize and present material, it does not seem pointless. So you should look at the potential of this or that theme. Is there room for creativity? What can I learn from working on it?

List of Commentary Essay Topics: TOP-15

  • The problem of adequacy of interpersonal perception.
  • New mechanisms of public administration in developed countries.
  • Interpersonal attraction factors.
  • The technology chain, criteria for evaluating its performance.
  • Image as a means of compensating for unattractiveness.
  • The potential for imposing influence from a leader in a crowd.
  • Gender socialization.
  • Features of innovative processes in land management.
  • The modern family is an institution of socialization.
  • Psychology of manipulation .
  • Factors for successful socialization.
  • Evaluation of the activities of state and municipal employees.
  • Psychology of happiness.
  • The concept of personal influence.
  • Ethnic (or age) stereotypes are social stereotypes.

10 Social Commentary Essay Topics

  • Sources of social conflict.
  • Social norms of behavior in primitive and modern societies.
  • Theory of social inequality.
  • Social conflict. Management of social conflict.
  • Organization of social processes.
  • Moral and ethical standards as the basis for the functioning of the modern state and municipal service.
  • Satanism is a social phenomenon in the United States.
  • Sociology of youth (youth extremism and youth subculture).
  • Students and their social role in society.
  • Suicide is a form of deviant behavior.

10 Personal Commentary Essay Topics

  • Subcultures as a way of interpersonal and intercultural communication.
  • Society and television in the 21st Century.
  • The place of the United States in the world community.
  • The main areas of innovation in real estate management.
  • Unemployment: causes, forms, methods of regulation.
  • Innovation as an object of innovation management.
  • Classification of innovations. The innovation process and its main characteristics.
  • State support for innovation.
  • The essence of innovative governance, its goals, functions, principles.
  • Interpersonal perception when choosing someone who matters.

10 Higher Education Topics for Commentary Essay

  • Modern classification of cryptocurrency enterprises.
  • Competitiveness as a factor in measuring business performance.
  • New organizational forms of innovative enterprises.
  • Importance of strategic management for modern enterprises. Types of innovation strategies.
  • Search methods and techniques for new business ideas.
  • Tasks and basic techniques of municipal and state projects.
  • Development of a business plan.
  • Basic methods for assessing the effectiveness of innovation.
  • Innovation performance measurement system.
  • Methods for evaluating the effectiveness of business based on discounting.

10 Commentary Essay Ideas

  • Managing the creation and use of new cryptocurrency.
  • Finance and industry group and its organization.
  • Financial support of cryptocurrency projects.
  • Creation of business plan structure.
  • Features of the socialization of the individual in modern conditions
  • Key indicators of innovation performance.
  • Intellectual property market.
  • Comparison of venture business in the USA and EU.
  • Innovation marketing.
  • Intellectual property as the object of modern entrepreneurship.

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Each student’s performance varies and may be influenced by many factors: extra tutoring, health state, work, and other life circumstances. Due to such factors, it is often difficult for a student to write a commentary essay, and there may be a lack of time, knowledge, or capacity to do so. Specialists of our company can help write a paper for you.

The ordered work will be executed as quickly as possible and guarantee the return of money. In addition, the document’s quality always claims the highest scores since it is written by a person who is an expert on this topic. Also, the work will be processed according to all requirements of your educational institution.

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FREE 7+ Commentary Writing Samples and Templates in PDF

commentary writing samples and templates

As a student, you will be tasked to come up with different types of essays—from narrative essays to argumentative essays , you name it, you have been assigned to write it. Have you ever encountered commentary writing? If you have not, then we are here to give you a good step-by-step guide on how you can come up with a good one.

Commentary Writing

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Aside from the tips and guidelines, we will also be sharing a couple of commentary essay examples  that will help your writing task go as smooth as possible. Are you ready? Just make sure that you keep reading!

Sample School Commentary Essay

sample school commentary essay

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Commentary Writing Notes

commentary writing notes

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Academic Essay Commentary Sample

academic essay commentary sample

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Literary Commentary Guideline Sample

literary commentary guideline sample

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What Is a Commentary?

A commentary is basically giving your own opinions and insights about someone’s work through an in-depth and analytical process. It is not just simply reporting or summarizing the work. It aims to explore beyond what is stated in the work and the writer of the commentary should try to give his/her thoughts about the work and synthesize each point to come up with a good conclusion. You may also see business writing samples and templates .

Writing a Commentary

When it comes to writing a commentary, there is no fixed format or guide that you should follow since what you are writing is mostly based on your own opinion. However, coming up with a clear goal about what you want to write would be a good idea even for other  essay writing tasks. So how do you do this? That is what we will be sharing with you right here!

Before we get started on the tips, there are two types of commentary essays that you should be aware of: literary commentary and data commentary. A literary commentary is basically a detailed analysis of a text or passage while a data commentary is a text that accompanies the graphics or visuals of a certain topic. We would like to give you a guideline for writing both types of commentary. You may also like book writing samples .

1. Coming Up with a Literary Commentary

When it comes to literary commentary, you want to make sure that you read the passage over and over again. You can start by reading the text out loud and then just plain reading it. Take time to go through each of the general statements and paragraphs. If there are any words that you think you are having a hard time understanding, make sure you check out what it means.

It would also be a good idea to have a hard copy of the text for highlighting purposes. You can highlight key points or important details by using a pen, pencil, or a highlighter. You may also opt to highlight any statements or words that you are having a hard time comprehending. You may also check out article writing samples and templates .

Now based on what you have read and highlighted, you can start making an essay outline . This essay outline would now serve as your guide on what the sequence of your essay would be. Make sure that your outline contains the essay basics which are the introduction, body of the essay, and the conclusion.

Now here’s how you can start writing the essay proper:

  • Start with the literary basics.  The literary basics pertain to the title, the author, and the genre of the literary piece. These should all be found in the introduction of your essay. You may also see minutes writing samples and templates .
  • Discuss.  Discuss in the body of the essay what the literary piece is all about, who it is for, and what is its purpose.
  • Make use of specific samples.  Doing this will help to support the thesis statement that you have.
  • Close with a strong conclusion.  You should compose your conclusion in a manner that does not only reiterate your main points but also relates everything back to the thesis statement.
  • Make sure that you cite your sources.  Keep track of the names of your sources, the authors, date of publication, and other pertinent information. You may also like informative writing samples and templates .

2. Writing a Data Commentary

A data commentary is also easier to write as you basically describe and comment on a set of data and present it in either graphs or tables. Here’s how you can come up with one.

  • Know the guidelines.  Usually, a data commentary is given as an assignment with a set of guidelines that you need to follow. You may also check out reflective writing samples and templates .
  • Present a synopsis.  A quick summary of your topic is important to give your readers a good background about what your topic is all about. Ensure that the data is analyzed in a good manner.
  • Come up with a graph or table for representation purposes.  This will help to emphasize key points of your topic and make it easier for them to understand your point. You may also see summary writing samples and templates .
  • Write a conclusion.  Your conclusion should let the reader know the significance of the results. Since data commentary is commonly used in a research, you may also state here further recommendations that future researchers would like to do.
  • Provide the sources.  Since a data commentary is based on facts, you should make sure that you include the sources that you have used. You may also like abstract writing samples and templates .

Example of Poetry Commentary

example poetry commentary

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Health Profile Commentary

health profile commentary

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Language and Literature Comparative Commentary

language and literature comparative commentary

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Financial Commentary Sample

financial commentary sample

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We hope that our article finds you well and that it can help you get through the task of coming up with a good commentary essay. We also hope that the samples included will make it easier for you to digest how this type of writing looks like. If you have been assigned by your teacher or professor to come up with a commentary essay, you may also ask him/her for more details about commentary writing. You may also see speech writing samples and templates .

If you want more information about other types of writing, the list below can be of help:

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  1. FREE 7+ Commentary Writing Samples and Templates in PDF

    examples of a commentary essay

  2. Teaching Students How to Write Commentary for the Literary Analysis

    examples of a commentary essay

  3. Commentary Essay Examples

    examples of a commentary essay

  4. Example IB English Commentary

    examples of a commentary essay

  5. FREE 7+ Commentary Writing Samples and Templates in PDF

    examples of a commentary essay

  6. FREE 7+ Commentary Writing Samples and Templates in PDF

    examples of a commentary essay


  1. How Are Commentary Essays Written?

    Commentary essays follow a basic structure of an introduction, followed by a comments section and wrapped up with a conclusion. Commentary essays, also called argumentative essays, generally revolve around discussions, critiques and analysi...

  2. What Is a Critical Commentary?

    A critical commentary is a detailed, technical explication of a text, usually examining its integrity and its textual and philological issues, with a discussion of its context and an analysis of its content.

  3. Can You Access the SDA Bible Commentary Online?

    The full text of the SDA Bible Commentaries is available at the website BibleTools.info. However, the text can only be read alongside several other commentary sources by navigating through one Bible verse at a time.

  4. Commentary Essay Example, Writing Guide, and Tips

    Write a topic sentence with evidence. And start the next sentence with the words "this shows that". This method really works because it makes the student

  5. Commentary #1

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  6. How to write a Commentary Essay

    Commentary essay outline · Introduce your topic. · Discuss your main point or argument. · Support your argument with evidence. · Explain the

  7. Writing a Commentary Sentence in an Essay

    In this video, you will learn how to write a Commentary Sentence that explains the significance of the Concrete Details of a paragraph.

  8. Writing a Literary Commentary: Guidelines

    A commentary is an analysis of the given passage, its function and its characteristics. It should examine the key themes and stylistic devices

  9. Commentary Essay

    For example, if you are discussing your understanding of a topic like ISTEP testing, your audience could be administrators. Genre: For this paper, your

  10. Commentary Essay Outline

    A commentary essay is meant to give your opinion, analysis, evaluation, or personal reaction about a specific detail in an essay or literary

  11. 50+ Commentary Essay Topics for Any Academic Occasion

    Hope to find interesting commentary essay topics? We have listed 50 ideas you'd love to write about. Choose the one and only topic that

  12. Elements of an Essay: Writing Commentary

    ... essay. It is needed for every single detail that you write. It is the commentary. Commentary Definition. When you write commentary, you are

  13. FREE 7+ Commentary Writing Samples and Templates in PDF

    essays that you should be aware of: literary commentary and data

  14. What is a commentary essay?

    It includes your opinion of what you have read with an explanation of why you are saying what you are saying about the work. You use examples from. the work