Descriptive Essay -3 Components of a Descriptive Essay

A descriptive essay is a long piece of writing which demands a thorough, vivid and realistic description of a particular subject matter. The term ‘subject matter’ in this context could refer to a place, an object, a meal or even an abstract subject like empathy. In other words, a descriptive essay can be defined as a form of essay which requires the proper description of a particular subject matter.

The aim of a descriptive essay in academia is to ascertain the creative capabilities and abilities of the student. A descriptive essay demands nothing short of creativity from its writer and thus, it tends to be a lot more flexible and even more fun to write than other types of essays.

As fore mentioned in the text, descriptive essays are related to the description of specific subject matters. The term ‘Description’ in this context refers to the representation of a specific subject matter in writing. Thus, the question format for a descriptive essay is quite easy to spot. If one is asked to represent a specific subject matter in words or give a detailed account of a particular thing, it is a descriptive essay. Example of keywords to look out for when identifying a descriptive essay includes:

  • Describe.
  • Depict.
  • Give a detailed account of..
  • Give a vivid/thorough description of..

Examples of descriptive essay topics include:

  • Give a detailed account of the experiences doctors face when they lose patients.
  • Describe the feeling of empathy.
  • Give a thorough description of your last experience at the Governor’s house.

Oftentimes, the questions given to writers of descriptive essays do not necessarily depict places or experiences that they have faced directly. One would have to use his/her imagination to make the piece of writing look persuasive and realistic. This is basically what the readers or teachers look out for when going through the written piece.

Components of a Descriptive Essay

A well-structured descriptive essay consists of three basic elements namely:

  • The introduction.
  • The body of the essay
  • The conclusion.


The introductory part of the essay introduces the topic of the essay is its first point of reference. It ought to consist of the following elements:

  • A proper definition of the main word which constitutes the subject matter of the essay.
  • A topic sentence which introduces the essay topic.
  • More sentences to support or surround the topic sentence.

For example, if one is asked to write a descriptive essay about his/her last experience at the park, the essay ought to begin with a definition of the main subject matter in the essay, which is the term ‘Park’. After that, the writer could either go ahead and give the reader a brief history regarding how parks, in general, came to be or the writer can state its uses in an intricate but brief way.

The next step would be to state the name of the last park which was visited and a brief summary of the events which occurred in the park. These events which will be briefed in the introduction will serve as topic sentences for the body of the paragraph.

Recommended: How to write an expository essay; Components and approach to expository essay


The body of the essay constitutes paragraphs which are basically an extension of the events or points that were briefly summarized in the introduction of the essay. Depending on the length and nature of the essay, these paragraphs will tend to vary. However, an ideal descriptive essay ought to contain a minimum of three paragraphs.

Each paragraph will begin with a topic sentence, and the rest of the paragraph will be dedicated to further explanations of the topic sentence. The writer is permitted to commence these paragraphs with words like Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly, Similarly or the topic sentence as it is, in its most formal and organized tone.


As the name implies, the aim of the conclusion in an essay is to round up the essay. This is done by compiling all the topic sentences in the paragraph in the most summarized way possible. The writer is not permitted to introduce new points in the conclusion. However, he/she can chip in how the overall experience or particular take on the subject matter was/is. Since it is the conclusion, it ought not to be as broad or length as the body paragraphs in the essay, hence, it ought to be summarized like the introduction.

Also ReadWriting Essay Introduction -5 steps to Write a Catchy Introduction for your Essay

Important points to note while writing a descriptive essay

In order to come up with a well-mannered and composed descriptive essay, the writer ought to adhere to the following instructions;

  • Make use of figurative language

A figurative language is a literal form of writing which requires the use of figures of speech as a means of making the words more effective and insightful. It can also be defined as a form of literal writing which requires the comparison of words side by side in order to paint more effective or insightful imagery in the mind of the reader. Examples of figures of speech which can be used as figurative language include Metaphor, Oxymoron, Synecdoche, Personification and so on.

The main aim of figurative language in a descriptive essay is to create a more pictorial setting of the object being described for the reader(s). That way, it will sound more persuasive and realistic even if the object or event being described is unreal.

An ideal example of figurative language includes:

The subtle melody which emanated from the violin danced around the building, putting everyone in a sober mood.

Make room for extra creativity

Oftentimes, students are asked to write descriptive essays on abstract objects or things that they have not experienced first-hand before. This makes such type of essay seem tasking or demanding especially when posed during an exam. This is so because students try to restrict their imaginative capacity to only academic-related themes or settings.

It should be noted that the main issue which teachers examine, apart from one’s proper use of English, is the capability to create something persuasive and realistic within a short period of time. Hence, students are advised to be a little more creative when composing a descriptive essay. Compile your daydreams in a formal tone and write them down if possible.

Now it is your turn. Let us know if you have comment, suggestions or a different view

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