Descriptive Essays

In descriptive essays, you have to describe a person, place or thing. If the question states “describe a person that helped you in the time of need”, don’t just go on about how the person helped you, you have to describe the person and his attributes as well.

Describing people:

  • Add the characteristics of the person such as “tall, well built, shiny black hair, etc.”. Remember to describe the height, age, build, face, eyes, hair and clothing of the person.
  • Describe the attributes and hobbies of the person and why he/she inspires/motivates you.


  • When he laughed, he revealed a set of horribly discoloured teeth.
  • Everybody stared at her. She had beautiful dark hair piled high on her head, a delicately shaped face, large soft eyes and the most dazzling smile I had ever seen.

Describing places:

  • State where and what the place is (For example Lulu Island in Abu Dhabi).
  • Describe how far the place is from your house (how you got there) and why do you like the place.
  • Describe the unique features of the place and what is so good about it. Describe the weather and how it felt “hot” or “cold” when you were there.
  • Would you recommend the place to others (for vacations, etc.)? If yes, then why?


She strolled to the back of the house by herself, and she saw the most beautiful backdrop. Trees were everywhere and sunlight was trying its best to penetrate the thick lush greenery. Right at the very middle of the trees was a small lake. Danielle leaned against the fence and admired the scene before her with awe.

Describing things:

  • Name the thing and what type of gadget/thing it is (For example your 24-carrot Rolex WATCH ? )
  • Describe the appearance of the thing, remember to be precise in mentioning the color, shape and size of the object.
  • Describe the features of the object and why it is so special to you.


Starting Descriptives; start by naming the person/place/thing. For person, describe if he’s popular or not. For places, describe it’s location and popularity. For things, name the brand and how the people world – wide adore it.

Main body; go into further detail on the topic.

  • If you’re describing a person then go in detail of the appearance, characteristics and qualities of the person (in separate paragraphs).
  • If you’re describing a place, go in depth about the wonders of the place, the key features and leisure facilities, the weather (decide paragraphing accordingly).
  • If you’re describing things, most preferably two paragraphs in detail of its appearance and how its features and background make it an important object for you.

Ending your essay; conclude your essay by summarizing all you’ve described and recommending (in case of place) or wishing best of luck (in case of people such as teachers/sportsmen) or admiring the object that you hold so dear.


Key point; in descriptive, VOCABULARY is very important because you want the reader to imagine what you’re describing! Nobody just likes to read a description of a person or place or object. With appropriate vocabulary you have to make it an interesting read.

Vocabulary for Describing People’s outlook


Vocabulary for Describing types of People

describing people

Here are a few links to help you build your vocabulary: in action

IGCSE Examiner Tips for Descriptive Writing:

  • It is difficult to write interesting descriptions, so this type of composition should not be attempted unless you have had practice and success at this type of writing. To write a strong descriptive answer you will need to use a wide range of vocabulary and even use imagery to engage reader interest. Unless the reader can see the picture they will not be able to relate to the experience.
  • You will need to use a variety of sentence structures. All forms of repetition should be avoided – unless you are deliberately using it carefully for effect.
  • You will need to evoke all five senses to create an environment and atmosphere, as well as details of size, shape and colour. Make colour precise, e.g. ‘scarlet’, ‘azure’, ‘off-white’, ‘bluish-grey’.
  • Try to avoid common, overused, vague, short and childish vocabulary, such as ‘nice’, ‘big’, ‘little’, ‘a lot of’, ‘good’, and ‘bad’.
  • Each noun probably needs one or more adjectives in front of it to give sufficient detail.
  • Don’t let your description become static – give structure and progression to your description e.g. moving towards or through something, such as a street market or busy shoppingmall, or going through a period of time, an hour or a day for instance, and recording the changes.