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Hey, it's Wendy from Worldwide Speak. I'm back. And this time I have a video on how to write a descriptive paragraph. Remember, this is an overview of how to do this for the English language learner. Let's get started. The descriptive paragraph: its purpose is to make the reader feel like they are experiencing what you're writing about using sensory language. Maybe I want to describe my favorite dish, or maybe I want to describe a horrible storm or even a room in my house. This paragraph is going to describe something so that the reader understands exactly what you're trying to say and can imagine this through the type of language you use in your writing. The descriptive paragraph has three important parts. It has a clear topic sentence with a controlling idea. It has support for the controlling idea that appeals to our senses:
sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. And then it has a conclusion sentence. What is this structure of this descriptive paragraph? It begins with a topic sentence and that tells the reader what your topic is and why you're writing about it, and then you have the reasons. These stay focused on the controlling idea, the "why" you are writing your paper. And they give specific details to give the reader a better understanding. And last, we have the conclusion sentence that restates or says in different words your topic sentence. Let's take some time to talk about the topic sentence. This is your first sentence of the paragraph. It includes the topic and the controlling idea. The topic is what you will write about, and the controlling idea is the "why" you are writing about that topic, what you want the reader to experience.
Here's an example: My favorite childhood dish was my mom's chicken marbella. My favorite childhood dish is the topic. I'm talking about a food that I liked as a kid. How am I going to make that specific and answer the question why I'm talking about it? That's my controlling idea. It's the chicken marbella. My favorite dish is the chicken marbella and that is the dish I want my reader to feel like they're tasing when they read my paragraph. Let's look at a couple more examples so you can get an idea of how to write a strong topic sentence. My home library is a perfect place to relax. My home library is the place. It's the topic And then my controlling idea - what I want you to experience in my paragraph - is the perfect place to relax. When you read my paragraph,
I want you to feel like you're in my library relaxing. Here's another one. Hurricane Harvey was a frightening and destructive storm. Ok, the topic, Hurricane Harvey, and then what do I want you to learn or experience from my paragraph? I want you to understand that it was a destructive and a frightening storm. That's my controlling idea We're going to talk about Hurricane Harvey as the topic, and then I'd like you to experience what I experienced and how destructive and frightening it was. We talked about the topic sentence, so now let's talk about the support for the paragraph. These are the details that make it super strong. This part of your paragraph, the support, the details, this is the meat of your paragraph. This is the part that describes what you want the reader to experience by giving the specific details that appeal to their senses:
sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. You will write sentences that are filled with sensory language, descriptive adjectives, and/or prepositions of location. I will go over how to do this in the next few slides. First, let's talk about sensory language. Writing a good descriptive paragraph means that we need to appeal to some or all of the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. How do we do this? Well, let's look at an example for each one of the senses that I mentioned. First, let's say we want to appeal to our reader's sight, and we're talking about Lake Michigan. We could use like "royal blue," "massive," "turbulent." Let's say we would like to appeal to the reader's hearing, and we're talking about highway traffic. We could use words like "roaring,"
"buzzing," or "droning." And then the sense of smell we could, um, use words like "fresh," "floral," and "pleasant" to describe clean laundry. And the sense of touch. We want to describe Kentucky bluegrass. We could use "smooth," "dense," and "soft." And lastly, if we want to the sense of taste, and we are trying to describe banana bread, we could use words like "sweet," "buttery," and "delectable." Now, when we look at all of those words that I just showed you as examples to describe things, those are words that we call adjectives. And if you remember, the purpose of an adjective is to describe. So they're perfect to use in your descriptive essay. And in order to have a very clear and strong descriptive essay
you really must use a lot of adjectives. These adjectives spice it up! Adding adjectives to your sentences, gives your paragraph flavor. These help the reader experience what you're writing about. Let's take a look at how we do this. First, let's say we have the sentence: "She used two pounds of chicken for this recipe." Well, um, that's kind of boring, and it could put your reader to sleep or make your reader think about something else they have to do that day. What if we added adjectives? Let's take a look at the sentence again and with a few descriptive adjectives. "She used two pounds of fresh, organic chicken for this delicious recipe." I've added three adjectives to the sentence. And you bet it definitely wakes the reader up and gives the reader that sense of taste, and it gives more detail.
And another way that we can keep our support really strong is to use similies. A simile makes a comparison between two things by using the words "like" or "as." We use similes to make our writing more descriptive and easier for the reader to imagine. Let's take a look at an example. "The juicy chicken meat melted in your mouth like warm butter." What two things are we comparing in this sentence? We have the chicken, and we have butter. And we're comparing the to so that the reader gets a really clear image in their mind. Let's look at another example. "The lion was as loud as a freight train." Again, we want the reader to have that image in their mind when they're reading our paper. We want to appeal to their sense of taste and their sense of hearing or other senses that we're trying
to appeal to depending on what we're writing about. Here's an example of a descriptive paragraph that you would use for real life. Perhaps you have to write one for school. Let's read this one together. My favorite childhood dish was my mom's chicken marbella. The meat always came from our local poultry store named Harrison's. She used two pounds of fresh, organic chicken for this delicious recipe. I can still remember the sweet smells of melting apricots and dates mixed with the savory scents of garlic, caper and olives. When the dish was baking in the oven, it reminded me of walking past an exotic restaurant during dinner time I loved to sit in the kitchen engulfed in these enticing aromas. Once cooked, the dark, crispy skin of the chicken combined with the soft, round apricots, dates, olives, and capers looked like a feast fit for royalty. It was difficult to wait for that first bite.
But it was worth it because the juicy chicken melted in your mouth like warm butter. Now, when I cook this fabulous recipe, I forever remember my mother and how her chicken barbella was so special. Here is the paragraph again, and I have highlighted the adjectives and the similes that I used. Look how many there are. You have to spice your paragraph up! And you do this by using adjectives and similes. The adjectives are highlighted in green, and the similes are highlighted in blue. You can see I used a ton of adjectives and a couple of similes. The last thing I want to talk about in relation to support are prepositions of location. Sometimes when we write descriptive paragraphs, we use prepositions of location. These help the reader understand exactly where a person or a thing is in relation to someone or something else.
Again, it is specific language that gives the writer more power to describe and create an idea in the mind of the reader. Here are some examples of prepositions of location. These aren't all of them, but I thought we'd start with these. "On the right" "on the left" "on top of" "in back of" "in front of" "next to" "beside" "between" "behind" "by" "inside" "near" "at" "above" and "across from." Here are some examples of prepositions of location in sentences. "Next to this majestic, red bookcase is the leather couch." You can see the prepositional phrase "next to this majestic, red bookcase" is at the beginning of the sentence, and it tells where the bookcase is in relation to the couch. Here's another example:
"The cozy armchair is across from the couch and by the window. You have two prepositional phrases. You're using prepositions of location to show where things are in relation to each other. And last: "Behind the armchair is a lush fern in a terra cotta planter." One piece of advice: when you're using these prepositions of location in your descriptive paragraph, make sure that you change the location of these prepositional phrases so that you don't always have them at the beginning of your sentence or at the end of your sentence. When you vary the location of your prepositional phrases, it makes your writing much easier to read because if we always have them at the beginning, that's pretty boring. So remember, you always want to have a variation in your sentences of the prepositions of location.
Now let's take a look at another descriptive paragraph and this time the descriptive paragraph is describing a location, and the purpose is to have the reader see this location in their mind. Why don't you read this with me? My home library is the perfect place to relax. When you first enter the room, the dark blue walls draw you in and make you feel at peace. A bookcase filled from top to bottom stands at the far end of the room inviting anyone to come and grab a book. Next to this majestic, red bookcase is the leather couch. It is well worn so that it feels comfortable the minute you sit down. It is perfect for resting or reading or daydreaming. The cozy armchair is across from the couch and by the window. This is another wonderful place to sit because when the sunlight hits the chair, it warms your soul. Behind the armchair is a lush fern
in a terra cotta planter. In between the couch and the armchair is a round, wooden coffee table with a beautiful straw basket in the middle. And on the floor is a faded Persian rug. This gives the room the warmth that makes you want to stay for a while. When it's time for some peace and quiet at home, the library is the only room that I want to be in. So I've taken the time to highlight all of the prepositions of location in this paragraph that describes a room. So, as you can see, I used a lot of these. Some of them come at the end of the sentence. Some of them come at the beginning of a sentence. And some of them are in the middle of a sentence. And we even use sometimes two prepositional phrases with prepositions of location in the same sentence. So remember, you want to have a variety of locations for
your prepositions of location. Alright. And last, the conclusion sentence. Remember this is the last sentence of your paragraph, and it just restates the topic and wraps up the paragraph. In our first example paragraph, our topic sentence was: "My favorite childhood dish was my mom's chicken marbella." And then our conclusion sentence was: "Now, when I cook this fabulous recipe, I forever remember my mother and how her chicken marbella was so special." So, "my favorite childhood dish" I used the word "recipe," and then what I do is I mention my mom again and I say that I remember her, and then I say that the dish was special. I don't say it was my favorite, but it was special so it has a similar meaning, the same idea. In the second example paragraph,
I wrote: "My home library is the perfect place to relax." The conclusion sentence was: "When it's time for some peace and quiet at home, the library is the only room I want to be in. Now, when I use the word "relax" in the topic sentence, I want to use something different in the conclusion sentence, so I use "peace and quiet." It has a similar meaning. And then I express that when I want peace and quiet, the library is the room that I go to. And it's the only one that I want to be in. Similar idea different words, and oftentimes I switch the order of the sentence. Let's review. Remember, you need a clear topic sentence with a controlling idea to begin the first sentence of your paragraph. And for the descriptive paragraph, you need support that appeals to our senses of
sight, hearing smell, taste, and touch. And I showed you three ways that we are able to do that with adjectives, similes, and prepositions of location. And last, you have your conclusion sentence. You can do it. I know that you can write a clear and effective descriptive paragraph. You went through the topic sentence, the support, and the conclusion sentence, and you have all of the information now to do this on your own. For more English resources, you can always visit our website worldwidespeak.com and you can find one on one coaching there. You can find example essays, or you can even find courses that you can take at your own pace. I know that you can do this. Thank you so much for watching. Take care.
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