Whenever anyone asks you about anything that you might experience in the world, you need to have the proper vocabulary to describe it to them in detail. As their name might suggest, descriptive words are the way that you can do this in English. To better familiarize you with examples of descriptive words in sentences, we’ve created this guide for teachers. Although instructors can use it in their lesson planning, many students at the middle or high school levels should be able to refer to this piece on their own, too. In order to make things easier for any ESL students that a teacher might have, we will try to use basic yet informative examples and verbiage to make the topics that we talk about in this guide accessible.
The first step to crafting decent describing words is understanding how to recognize them. One way to do this is to think of your five senses. Any words that can appeal to at least one of those senses is probably something that you could say is descriptive in nature. Another way to build upon this idea is to think of a good book you’ve read. Try to think back to precisely why you think this book is good. Get in touch with why it sticks in your mind so much. One of the biggest reasons for this is probably in how well the book told its story.
To tell a good story that stays with us long after we’ve finished a book, a skilled author needs to use good descriptors to help our imaginations create the world and characters they are writing about. In order to do this, the writer needs to have some affinity for describing people, places, things, or events that are in the book. There are ways one might do this with simple words like short or tall to describe a person, or they can go with warm or cold to describe the environment of a particular place. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but memorable describing words go deeper than that.
What each person might consider to be good in terms of description is subjective, but it is important to recognize these kinds of words on any level whenever we might encounter them. Although descriptions are already one type of word category that we can use in English, there are ways that we can break them down further by type. We will list some broad categories in the following sections, giving you some concrete examples of each.
Adjectives are one type of word that you can use to describe various things. They are probably the most common type that you can put in this category, so a list of descriptive words that form from adjectives could probably be the longest kind you would see. We won’t give you too exhaustive of a list here, but we will provide some examples to help illustrate just how you use adjectives as words that describe things. The good part about adjectives is that they will usually do all of this by default.
For example, you might say that the old gentleman sat on the sturdy wooden chair and began carving a small, beautiful sculpture as he admired the wondrous sunset in the distance. There are several bold words in the above sentence. Each one of them is an adjective that makes a whole scene full of good descriptive words. If you concentrate, you can picture the man and his activities in your mind. Once you add the sunset, part of the environment is there for you as well. The chair might also help you picture a nice front porch outside a classic home.
As you can see, adjectives are one of the most natural descriptor categories that we have access to in the English language. Additionally, just peppering a few of them naturally throughout a paragraph or two can help your writing become more vivid, enjoyable, and engaging. If you ever struggle to find the proper adjective descriptions to use in cases like these, just imagine how you would use your senses to engage with the scene you are trying to bring to life.
You’ve seen how adjectives tend to modify nouns. In the previous examples that we used when we described our scene, old modified the man, and both sturdy and wooden modified the chair. Adverbs also modify things, but they work with other parts of speech. You’ll see them modify adjectives, verbs, or even other adverbs. Just like with adjectives, you can use adverbs to describe things. Concepts such as time and place are typical things for which you might use adverbs, and specific circumstances or degrees are others.
For example, we might write a sentence that reads that the maid hastily but tiredly cleaned the parlor, and her employer found that she did her work messily and poorly. Here are some examples of the things that adverbs might describe as you read. Perhaps the maid didn’t get much sleep, and this made her clean the parlor tiredly. She might have done so hastily to get done as soon as possible, but her employer felt that her efforts were quite messy, and poorly describes how they might feel about the degree of the maid’s work here.
You probably know that verbs describe specific actions. However, they can also function as descriptors on their own. When this happens, we call them participles in English. Typically, participles will come just before the noun they describe, and you can recognize them thanks to their -en, -ed, or -ing endings for both past and present examples.
We might use participles as good descriptive words to say that the acclaimed and accomplished author felt quite satisfied with the sales of his book. However, when the reviews came out, he learned that the general public found his writing to be confusing, boring, and broken in ways that made his prose baffling.
You should now have a decent understanding of how to describe something. Further, you can use all the bold terms to create a list of descriptive words. The examples of descriptive words that we've used here just scratch the surface of the rich variety of the English language's ability to help writers put their visions on paper. You can build an entire library of descriptive words to make your sentences more vibrant.