The comment “exactly” is used as an affirmative reply.  Professors may direct the reply toward the whole paper or just one section paragraph. Such a reply typically calls attention to a section where your analysis works in conjunction with a quote you are incorporating or your analysis works in conjunction with the author’s main claim. In other words, your professor is calling attention to your ability not only to incorporate a quote, but also understand its underlying implications and the meanings evoked from just looking at the immediate text.

Based upon this comment, you have conveyed the author’s purpose with a level of preciseness and accuracy. For example, an author writes with purpose. The purpose might be to inform or to persuade; either way the author is motivated by some thing, person, or event. Since this is typically true, the ideas you express within your paper reflect a true testament to the author’s work.

With this in mind, examine the following excerpt where the student develops statements that correspond exactly to the ideas the author expresses within his work.

Sample Excerpt

Barbarism, in regards to the mass-man, is the absence of norms, standards and authority; it can be manifested in a number of ways.  The mass-man has a number of ideas, but fails to incorporate those ideas.  He lacks the faculty to debate.  He doesn’t see the atmosphere surrounding him where ideas are normally bred and live.  He desires to express opinions, but does not accept the conditions for having ideas to express.  As a result, his ideas are expressed as comical and humorous; “[t]o have an idea is to believe that one has reasons for having it, and thus to believe that reason exists” (Bellow 62).

Figure 14: Essay Excerpt on the Mass-Man, Ortega Y. Gasset

Excerpt Outline

The first sentence is a topic sentence.

The second sentence begins the elaboration phase, the act of applying specifics and detail.

The third sentence continues to define the “mass-man” as barbaric. He lacks the faculty to debate and exercise “intellect.”

The two sentences in bold (4) and (5) are pivotal because they paint a clear picture of the “mass-man.” We can picture the “mass-man” not accepting the proper way of expressions. 


What the excerpt further suggests is that there is a more formal way of expressing ideas in an arena that has civilized and articulate players. If you receive “Exactly,” this means you understand the author’s work. You understand the author’s feelings and attitudes and perspectives. You, as the student, are working side-by-side with the author, in agreement. It is possible to deduce more from this passage, conclusions that come as a result of in-depth research, but for now, in writing the comment “Exactly,” your professor believes that you have a firm grip on the meaning the author evokes from his or her work.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: