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The Descriptive Paragraph

The descriptive paragraph as explained in the book "Refining Composition Skills", 6th edition by Regina Smalley

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The Descriptive Paragraph

  1. 1. Prof. Mara Luna Intermediate English I To be used with “Refining Composition Skills” by Regina L. Smalley 6th edition *
  2. 2. *It is a paragraph that uses sensory details to paint a picture of a place, person, or an object. *
  3. 3. *Our lives are filled with places, people, and events. *Often, we think about a place, we not only see it in detail, but we also smell the smells and hear the sounds associated with it. We remember what important event happened there. *This is also true with people. Certain people are important in our lives –our parents, family members, teachers, others– and again, when we think about a particular person, we see the details and hear the sounds of that individual and remember –even with just a feeling- his or her impact in our lives. *
  4. 4. *For description, writers must use words to describe what they see, smell, hear, and feel. *The description is successful if it is so vivid that it recreates these sensations for the reader. *One way to recreate these sensations with words is to use similes and metaphors to compare the thing being described with something familiar to the reader. *
  5. 5. *A simile is an expression that compares two things using the word like or as + a noun phrase. Example: *The tree wears the snow like a white fur coat. *A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words like or as. Example: *The snow on the tree is a while fur coat that protects it from the winter. *
  6. 6. *Using similes and metaphors is a good way to make descriptive writing vivid, especially when you do not know a vocabulary word or when you just want to use a more creative tone. *For example, imagine describing someone’s eyes that were green with specks of brown in them – a deep hazel. If than person had just been crying, the description could be, “Her eyes look like the forest after a rainstorm – dark green and brown and moist”. *
  7. 7. *The logical arrangement of ideas and sentences in a narrative paragraph is chronological – according to time order. *When you are describing the way something looks – its physical appearance – it is not time but space that is important. *Therefore you should arrange your sentences and details according to where the objects being described are located. This type of organization is called spatial organization. *
  8. 8. *In describing a room, what should you describe first? The walls? The floor? *Unlike the chronologically-developed paragraph, there is no set pattern for arranging sentences in this type of descriptive paragraph. *Nevertheless, the sentences should not be randomly arranged. The description must be organized so the reader can imagine the scene being described. *
  9. 9. *The arrangement of the details in a descriptive paragraph depends on the subject. The selection and the description of details depend on the describer’s purpose. *When painting a picture with words, you can begin from left to right, from right to left, from top to bottom, or from bottom to top. *
  10. 10. *Sometimes, though, the description can focus on some object that dominates the scene or on something that is unusual in the scene. *In this case, it may be desirable to focus on an object and describe it first, since it is the first thing noticed. *Describing what can be perceived with the senses (sights, sounds, smells, touch, tastes) makes the scene even more vivid and interesting. *
  11. 11. *How would you describe a person? *Depending on the subject or assignment, you could describe the person’s physical appearance, since the principle of organization is spatial, for the most part. *Here are just a few ways you can describe a person’s appearance: style of clothing, manner of walking, color and style of hair, facial appearance, body shape, expression, way of talking. *
  12. 12. *What you choose to describe depends on your topic and purpose. *When describing a person, you are not obliged to describe every single detail about the person’s appearance. *Sometimes it is better to focus on one or two outstanding features that convey something about the person’s character. *
  13. 13. *Details in descriptive paragraphs are organized spatially to give the reader a clear picture of the scene being described. *Clarifying the spatial relationship with spatial expressions helps to achieve coherence. *These spatial expressions are called adverbs of place; most of them are prepositional phrases (prepositions + noun phrase). *
  14. 14. Some of the expressions used to clarify space relationships include: on the second floor behind the chair straight ahead on top of the television under the windows above the bookcase on your left in the corner over the table underneath the desk on the right-hand side opposite the bed against the wall along the back of the house *
  15. 15. *The details in a descriptive paragraph should not only be logically arranged but also vivid. *To make the details more vivid, you need to modify them (Modify means to restrict or narrow down the meaning.) *Nouns can be modified in three ways: by adding adjectives, by adding adjective and prepositional phrases, and by adding clauses. *Each time a modified is added to a noun, a class to which it belongs is restricted. Ex. a book – a red book – a red paperback book – a red paperback book with a torn cover *
  16. 16. *Another way to improve coherence is to use adjective clauses. *An adjective clause is a dependent clause that modifies a noun. *The subordinators that introduce adjective clauses include: who, whom, whose, that, and which. *Less common adjective clause subordinators are : when, where, and why. *Example: It’s a small mouth that looks delicate and feminine. *Example: As you walk into the room, you are stopped by my bed, which fills half the room. *
  17. 17. *You have learned that a coherent paragraph is one that has logically arranged sentences and ideas; in addition, in order for a paragraph to be coherent, the sentences should flow smoothly. *If the sentences in a paragraph are short and if the sentences contain a lot of repeated words, the paragraph is choppy. *By combining a few sentences using adjective clauses, some of the repeated words can be eliminated and the sentences flow more smoothly. *
  18. 18. *How to write a descriptive paragraph: http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Descriptive- Paragraph *Tips for good descriptive paragraphs: http://web.clark.edu/martpe/descriptive%20pa ragr.htm *The Descriptive Paragraph: http://www.ablongman.com/henry_rh/ch04.pdf *