8. Descriptive Paragraphs

Descriptive Paragraphs

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas Kristen Indonesia

Descriptive paragraphs are often used to describe what a place or an object person looks like, or what a person looks and acts like. Therefore, a good descriptive paragraph provides the reader with an accurate mental picture of the topic of the paragraph whether it is a person, a place or an object.

Read the following paragraphs and pay attention to the numerous descriptive words employed in it.

Jack Collins

Jack Collins is the most amazing person I have ever met. He came to my school and talked about his difficult life in prison.   He was in prison for 15 years. He made a lot of mistakes when he was young, but now he has changed his life. He saw a lot of violence in prison, so he uses his experience to help secondary school students. Jack is tall and strong. He also looks a little scary because he has some spider tattoos. The thing I remember most is his sensitive personality. He really wants to help young people. I’ve never met anyone like Jack before. (From: Paragraph Writing by Zemach, D.E. and Islam C.)

Dominant Impression

To write an effective description, it is not enough to give random pieces of information about the particular object, place, or person, you are describing. You descriptions should create the sense of a dominant or overall impression in your reader. You can achieve this by making each individual sentence you write a part of a picture you would like to show to your reader. For example, when you describe Lake Toba, the dominant impression you want to create could be its beauty or its tranquility. When you describe a person, you might want to present the impression of a diligent, hardworking person. It is a good idea to integrate the dominant impression into the topic sentence. This will help you focus as you write and will leave no doubt in the reader’s mind as to the direction of your thinking. This impression must be supported by all supporting sentences.

 My Mother’s Kitchen

My Mother’s Kitchen is not big but it is warm and comfortable. My mother cooks a lot and it smells spicy and sweet. Sometimes she taught my brother and me how to cook. We liked learning new things, working together and making delicious foods. Now I live far away, but I often think of my mother’s kitchen. (From: Paragraph Writing by Zemach, D.E. and Islam C.)

Sensory Images

In order to make vivid descriptions, good writers use sensory images, or details that relate to our five senses—sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Sentences that make the reader sees an object, hears a sound, touches a surface, smells an odor, or tastes a flavor are very effective in descriptive writing. Such sentence help the reader to pay more attention to what the writer is saying, and thus help them to remember the details of what he has read. For example, if you came across the word book in a sentence, you might or might not pay attention to it. However, if the writer describes that it is an old, brown, and thick book which is made of ‘lontar’ leaves and creaking when it is opened, to a higher extent you will not forget it. You will keep the book in your mind because the writer uses sensory images.


Bali is probably the most famous island in Indonesia. Also known as the Land of gods, it blends spectacular sheer natural beauty of looming volcanoes, beautiful beaches, lush terraced rice fields that exude peace and serenity, and warm and friendly people. Visitors will be amazed by its dramatic dances, colorful ceremonies, amazing arts and crafts, luxurious beach resorts, and exciting night life.  This exotic island also offers world class surfing and diving, and exhilarating treks in the wild. Everywhere intricately carved temples provides inspirational spirituality. For decades this miraculous island has amazed millions of local and international visitors. Why don’t you come and experience it?

Spatial Order

In a descriptive writing, supporting details should be arranged according to spatial order so that the items are shown in much the same way as a camera might move across a scene. The items could be ordered from left to right, from outside to inside, from top to bottom, from nearby to farther away, or even around in a circle. In order to give the greatest impact to a certain image, it is put at the last place.

In the following paragraph, observe how the writer moves clearly from a description of the head of the clown (in sentences two, three, and four), to the body (sentences five, six, seven, and eight), to the unicycle underneath (sentence nine). Notice also how the concluding sentence helps to tie the paragraph together by emphasizing the personal value of this gift.

A Friendly Clown

On one corner of my dresser sits a smiling toy clown on a tiny unicycle–a gift I received last Christmas from a close friend. The clown’s short yellow hair, made of yarn, covers its ears but is parted above the eyes. The blue eyes are outlined in black with thin, dark lashes flowing from the brows. It has cherry-red cheeks, nose, and lips, and its broad grin disappears into the wide, white ruffle around its neck. The clown wears a fluffy, two-tone nylon costume. The left side of the outfit is light blue, and the right side is red. The two colors merge in a dark line that runs down the center of the small outfit. Surrounding its ankles and disguising its long black shoes are big pink bows. The white spokes on the wheels of the unicycle gather in the center and expand to the black tire so that the wheel somewhat resembles the inner half of a grapefruit. The clown and unicycle together stand about a foot high. As a cherished gift from my good friend Tran, this colorful figure greets me with a smile every time I enter my room.

(from: http://grammar.about.com/od/developingparagraphs/a/samdescpars.htm)


Apache was the name given to the Indian tribes who inhabited the southwestern part of the United States and parts of northern Mexico. They were excellent hunters and raiders who had little trouble to protect their band. In the past, each Apache band was led by its own chief, who was chosen by a tribal council. Most important decisions were made by the council, and all the Apache council members had to agree before an action could be taken. An Apache chief was more like a tribal chairman than a president. Most of his job was mediating between other Apaches. Probably the most famous Apache chief is Geronimo,  who led a series of rebellions.


24 thoughts on “8. Descriptive Paragraphs

  1. mika dosnt have a pencil
    mika will fail school
    mika will not have a good education
    mika will not have a job
    mika will be homeless
    mika will die of hunger

    note to self : NEVER LOSE YOURE PENCIL

  2. **An inspiring teacher** Sinse i was little chubby girl at primary school i was diligent at all the subjects except the mathematics ,i grew up hating it.After i became studying at university my first course was math and the teacher was completly different from the others ,he was tall ,wearing new fashioned clothes,his smiles makes me feel confortable , he has a good sense of humour that why i becomes very good at this subjects besides his miracle skills and the way he explains the ideas ,he makes the difficult stuff becomes easy to learn moreover with funniest way,i will never forgot him and all his supports thanks to him i become empowered to this subject .

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  5. Those are some real helping paragraphs for when you are writing a descriptive paragraph or a story.!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Dear Sir, below are my responses of Descriptive Paragraph
    Group A: A Description of a Person
    Topic : A Loyal Friend

    What a Loyal Friend

    Anita is a loyal friend I most admire. Although she is 38 years old, but she looks like a high school student. Since she is diligently cares for her smooth white skin, she looks radiant and charming. Her wavy shoulders-length black hair makes her gorgeous. When the first time I met her, I was very impressed by her beautiful black eyes that is why I always remember her. Moreover, when I am sick, she is the first person who is always there by my side, and takes care of me. When I am short of money, she is always been a way out for me. Furthermore, Anita is a true friend who has never felt self-interest in helping of others. She even never felt angry or disappointed when sometimes I let her down. In short, she is the best friend who I have ever met in my life.

    Group B: A Description of a Home
    Topic : My Favorite Room in My House

    What a Cozy Bedroom

    I always spend my lazy days in a big cozy bedroom on the second floor of my house. The room–sized is about five by four meters. The doors are painted white so it looks bright. There are two doors made of teak wood. The first door painted dark brown which looks very sturdy as a place to go in and out of my room. Whereas, the second painted light brown as a place to go in and out of balcony. As I enter my room, there is a single white light bulb hung from the high ceiling, while on the left side there is a three feet high mirror, heart – shaped and framed old brown teak wood which has six drawers. On the left of the mirror, there is a six feet high cream – colored wardrobe as a place to store and hung my clothes. On the left of the wardrobe, there is a knee high red – colored small table as a place to put my netbook and some books. On the left of the small table there are two mattresses covered with quilt white stripes, there two pillows and two bolsters. Right in front of the two mattresses, there is a 32 inches LCD TV with a black frame which is put on top of a glass table box. Right on the wall behind the TV there is an orange – colored clock which written on it “Teh Botol Sosro” because it was a gift from PT.Sosro tbk. In short, I have never seen room as comfortable as my bedroom, so I really love it.

  7. The house of my dreams
    This is my dream house. It’s is one-story house built in spacious property. There is a front yard with kinds of plants with a small path to go inside the house. The main door is two-sided wooden door. Once you open the doors, you meet a wall with a mirror which is separated right and left wing of the house. If you go to right wing, you directly go to living room where I welcome my guests. Next to living room, you can find guest room and rest room. The guest room is facing to part of swimming pool. The left wing is a way to kitchen and dining room. In the hall to the kitchen and dining room, you can find a door to my family main room. When you open the door, there is a glass hall towards my children’s room. if we go through the glass hall from guest room, you can find my room facing the swimming pool. And the glass hall is also connecting my room on right wing and dining room on left wing. There is folded-glass door at the backyard where you can find swimming pool right after you open the glass door. A small path made from stones is next to the pool for people to go to a gazebo near the pool for gathering and relaxing. You can see my Jacuzzi in my room from the pool because the Jacuzzi is in open area next to my room.

  8. Inspiring Teacher
    There are some inspiring teachers in my life. But the one whom I am going to tell you is really a great teacher for me. His name is Shakoh Seger. He was my lecturer in Chinese Literature, University of Indonesia. He was the third person who has the highest knowledge of Chinese linguistic in the world. He is specialty in calligraphy and philosophy. He doesn’t have high education title. In fact, he was a truck driver in Surabaya before he was appointed to be a guest lecturer in University Indonesia. When we saw him for the first time, he didn’t look like a lecturer. He was bringing a black plastic bag and wore simple outfit. What made us impressed at that time that he was talking as if we watched Kungfu movie! He didn’t have many rules in his class but he knew how to attract us to study more and more. Every time we studied linguistic, he let us to feel and try the words, so we had no doubt in pronouncing them. He was able to let us understand phrases matching to situations and Chinese cultures. His humble heart and persistence made us respect him more. As a result we always tried our best in his class because we don’t want to disappoint him. I have been admired his attitude towards his students and I try to model him, yet I’m still learning.

  9. Dear Mr. Parlin
    Below is my descriptive paragraph assignment:

    Group A: A Description of a person; a loyal friend
    A loyal friend for me was my friend on high school; she was very clever, fun and often taught me. She isn’t tall, slightly chubby but sweet and has a curly beautiful hair. She has a clean white skin and her voice was good too. The most interesting is when she smiled; her dimples would seem on the chubby cheeks. Even though smart she is not arrogant, in fact she often taught her friends. But don’t try to ask her on the exam, she will never give an answer; instead she would be very angry. She was cool, we like a trip to the mall along with several other friends. This clever and cool friend is Risna, my best friend.

    B: A description of home; my favorite in my house
    My favorite room in my house is my bed room. It’s quite big 4×9 m2 which consist of two parts. The first part is main bed room. There is a big bed, a TV set with home theater, and a dresser. The other one is study room; consists of a study table, a study cabinet, a books shelf, and a wardrobe. I can do many activities there, such as watching television, listening music, studying, reading and playing with my sons. It’s always clean and tidy and also supported with AC, so I can do all my activities comfortably.


  10. Pingback: 6. Descriptive Paragraph « PARLINDUNGAN PARDEDE

  11. Dear all attendees of Writing 2,
    Write a paragraph on each of the following groups of topic. Feel free to choose the topic you like most in each group. Write each paragraph in 80-120 words.

    Group A: A Description of a Person
    1. An outstanding athlete
    2. A loyal friend
    3. A gossipy neighbor
    4. An Inspiring Teacher

    Group B: A Description of a Home
    1. The house of your dreams
    2. The strangest room you have ever seen
    3. Your favorite room in your House
    4. The room you’ll never forget

    Good luck!

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