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ESL forum > Ask for help > Difference between an essay and a composition???    

Difference between an essay and a composition???

Dianna Madrigal
Costa Rica

Difference between an essay and a composition???
Hi all! Could somebody please explain me the difference between an essay and a composition??? Thanks in advance.....   

30 Jan 2009      


One way to look at it is that "composition" is a super-category, whereas "essay" would be a sub-category of composition.

Another way would be to say that "composition" can have many forms e.g. musical composition or chemical composition etc., whereas "essay", as you mean it, is purely a literary composition.

Hope this helps you somewhat...


These links bring out the same points:



You can also see that essay has some older uses that are not so commonly used these days.

30 Jan 2009     

United States

 An essay usually deals with an analysis or interpretation and has a more limited point of view.
A composition is "a piece of writing, especially a school exercise in the form of a brief essay" (Webster´s)
I usually use them interchangeably ,but believe that "composition" is a wider term than "essay", it doesn´t have to be analytical or interpretive..

30 Jan 2009     


Like Douglas, I usually use both terms  interchangeably, although I use "essay" much more often

30 Jan 2009     

alien boy

As the other posters have said, you can use either composition or essay. A lot depends on how precisely you wish to define the piece of written work.
A composition can be any piece of organised work - music, language, scientific or art work, just to name a few fields! 
An essay is a specific form of analytical or interprative work and is usually in a written format.

30 Jan 2009