[WRITING] Description


So, the first type of text I have discussed here is exposition, my favorite.  Well, for now, we’re going to study more about description.  Okay, let me give you one simple descriptive text.

My best friend, Kiki

I enjoy my friendship with my best friend, Kiki.  Kiki is a modest, but fun boy.  He is fifteen years old and sits in the same class with me.  His father is Sundanese, but her mother is Chinese.  Kiki has short black hair and slanted eyes.  Most girls in the class, even those from the other classes, like him because of his cute, gorgeous face with dimples on his cheek.  Well, he is surely the star of the third graders in my school.  Kiki is good at sport, and in fact he is in the school football team.  He practices with the team twice a week.  Kiki and I often spend our time together, playing chess (our favorite game) or watching films at my home.  We are movie-freaks, and we both love action films.  Kiki is a brilliant student too, and he becomes my biggest competitor in class.  Nevertheless, we are still best friends.

So, my first question: what does this text tell us about?

Yes, it describes the characteristics of Kiki, the writer’s best friend.  You can read about Kiki’s physical look, his family, his hobbies, activities, and others.

Here, in description, you only talk about one particular thing.  Descriptive texts are different from reports; and I will explain the later more in the next post. You can describe someone, a public figure, a historical hero, your pet at home, your bedroom, your school, a city or town, a particular building or landscape, etc.

When you write a descriptive text, enrich it by writing more about these things:

  • the physical look or appearance, i.e. face, hair, complexion, body, size, shape, color.
  • background information, including family, study, occupation, or location.
  • behavior and activities,
  • achievement in the past, or significance, especially when you are describing a public figure, or a famous person in the world.
  • if you are describing a place, you can talk about what you can find and do there.

Here’s another, longer example of a descriptive text about Borobudur.


Borobudur is a Hindu-Buddhist temple located near Magelang on the island of Java in Indonesia.  Built in the 9th century under the Sailendra dynasty of Java, it was abandoned in the 11th century and partially excavated by archaeologists in the early 20th century.  Influenced by the Gupta architecture of India, the temple is constructed on a hill 46 m (150 ft) high and consists of eight steplike stone terraces, one on top of the other.  The first five terraces are square and surrounded by walls adorned with Buddhist sculpture in bas-relief; the upper three are circular, each with a circle of bell-shaped stupas (Buddhist shrines).  The entire edifice is crowned by a large stupa at the center of the top circle.  The way to the summit extends through some 4.8 km (some 3 mi) of passages and stairways.  The design of Borobudur, a temple-mountain symbolizing the structure of the universe, influenced temples built at Angkor, Cambodia.  Borobudur was rededicated as an Indonesian national monument in 1983 following extensive reclamation, aided by the United Nations.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

So, what do you think about this text?  Quite challenging, right?  And it is more concise.

Want another?

Gregory, by Barbara Carter

Gregory is my beautiful gray Persian cat. He walks with pride and grace, performing a dance of disdain as he slowly lifts and lowers each paw with the delicacy of a ballet dancer. His pride, however, does not extend to his appearance, for he spends most of his time indoors watching television and growing fat. He enjoys TV commercials, especially those for Meow Mix and 9 Lives. His familiarity with cat food commercials has led him to reject generic brands of cat food in favor of only the most expensive brands. Gregory is as finicky about visitors as he is about what he eats, befriending some and repelling others. He may snuggle up against your ankle, begging to be petted, or he may imitate a skunk and stain your favorite trousers. Gregory does not do this to establish his territory, as many cat experts think, but to humiliate me because he is jealous of my friends. After my guests have fled, I look at the old fleabag snoozing and smiling to himself in front of the television set, and I have to forgive him for his obnoxious, but endearing, habits.


You might notice some language features appearing in descriptive texts.  Here are some:

  • description usually uses present tense, or if it talks about people or thing in the past, of course it will use past tense.
  • nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases are common in descriptive texts.
  • to describe more about the things or people, you can use adjectives.  You will find black and straight hair, slanted black eyes, a muscular body, soft brown fur, large red flowers, strong high modern tower, etc.

So, are you ready to write your own descriptive texts?

Wait for my next explanation about another genre of text, similar to description: REPORT.

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