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Definition: A descriptive paragraph has a group of sentences that work together to convey an overall
impression of a place, person, object, or idea.
Purpose: To describe something in such detail that readers can imagine what you are describing.
Practical Uses: You may be asked to describe a painting you saw in a museum as homework.

Key Elements to a Descriptive Paragraph

Organisation styles for descriptive paragraphs include location (where things are in relation to
one another) and order of importance (the paragraph moves from least important to most

The model paragraph is organised in terms of location as it moves from the floor, to the refrigerator, to
the sink. It is also organized in order of importance as it moves from the least messy to the messiest area
of the kitchen.
Transition words

Typical transition words for descriptive paragraphs are given.

Explanation and Example
for example
for instance
to illustrate
one example

and in addition

adjacent to
below, beyond, farther on, opposite to,

besides that in
the same way
A Filthy Room

My sister-in-law’s kitchen is the filthiest room I’ve ever seen. First, the floor is an absolute mess.
The linoleum lies under a patchwork quilt of old food: sticky patches of turkey gravy, Gerber’s strained
beets and tapioca pudding, Kal Kan Kitty Stew, and fudge ripple ice cream with marshmallow sauce.
Adding to the mess on the floor, at least half a dozen bags of trash sit around at any one time,
overflowing with slimy, brown banana peels, oily tuna fish cans, and mayonnaise jars that stink like a
sewage spill. A second disaster area is the refrigerator. On its door, peanut-butter-and-jelly handprints
compete for space with grimy Post-it notes held in place by chewed wads of grape bubblegum. And on

But the filthiest place in the kitchen is the sink. Writing the Descriptive Paragraph  One of your favorite places (real or not)  Your favorite artwork  A sacred place  A public restroom  A favorite photograph  Your childhood bedroom  An unusual place  An unusual person  An object you treasure  A piece of food left too long in refrigerator 2 . chocolate-stained cookbooks lie surrounded by a half-inch-thick layer of dust studded with rotting flies. How many areas of the kitchen are described? 4. rolled in used cat litter. Identify the subject of the paragraph. saucepans with week-old spaghetti and chili burned into them. and left to dry under a baking hot sun for a month. my sister-in-law would win hands down. Identify a detail or two that brings the paragraph to life. If there were an award for having the filthiest of the refrigerator. and spoons that look as if they had been dipped in motor oil. What is the overall impression the author has of the subject? 3. mucous-like scum that would turn the strongest of stomachs. chipped coffee mugs filled with thick brown water that has pieces of toast and dead ants floating in it. 5. the porcelain has developed a shiny coating of gray-green. And my sister-in-law keeps the sink stacked high with disgustingly dirty dishes: egg-encrusted plates. 2. Does the concluding sentence leave the reader with an overall impression of the paragraph’s subject? 6. Because it’s so seldom scrubbed. Exercise I: Using the model paragraph. Identify two details that support the supporting sentence “the floor is an absolute mess”. answer the following prompts: 1.