A review is an article in a newspaper or magazine in which someone gives their views on a book, play, film, TV programme, etc. The purpose of the review is firstly to give factual information about the subject, and secondly to give an opinion about it which will help the reader to decide where to buy the book, see the play or visit the exhibition. Reviews normally contain the three main ingredients below.

1, Overview – a description of the subject

Book (non-fiction) – What is it about? Who is it for? How technical is it? How is it organised? What topics are covered? What special features are there? How much does it cost? etc.

Book (fiction) – What kind of book is it? (thriller, historical novel, science fiction, etc.) Is it different in any way from other books of this type? What’s the story? etc. You can give an outline but don’t give the ending away!

Play/Film – What is it about? Is there anything special or unusual about the production? Where is it on? Are there any well-known actors? Who is the director? etc.


2, Pros and cons – detailed comments on the successful and unsuccessful features of the subject

Your comments will probably include both objective views (based on fact) – the photographs were poor quality or the costumes didn’t fit the actors properly, for example – and subjective views (based or personal feelings - the story wasn’t interesting or the film was too violent. Make sure, however, that you give reasons for your comments.

You may have strong positive or negative feelings about the subject of the review and this is no bad thing! A strong opinion, clearly argued, is often more interesting to read than a carefully balanced assessment. Even so, try not to be completely one-sided.

3, Verdict – summing up and recommendation

The last paragraph should sum up your feelings and make it clear to the reader whether you recommend the subject without any reservations, recommend it with one or two reservations, or don’t recommend it at all. In real life, readers often look at the last paragraph of a review first to see what the general verdict is. Make sure your review gives a clear verdict.


Book – non-fiction

Book – fiction


Radio/TV programme

Useful language – Overview

Useful language – Pros and cons

Useful language – Verdict


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