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Describing an Object: Showing vs. Telling Essay

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Updated: May 19th, 2021

Description of an object

This square object catches one’s eye due to its bright colors and unusual patterns. The combination of yellow, white, and blue, as well as tinges of these colors, creates the atmosphere of fun and excitement. Square patterns and bold lines emphasize the contour of the piece and make its color scheme more vibrant. As far as the object’s shape is concerned, it can be described as double-coded. On the one hand, it is a perfect square. On the other hand, when looking from a different angle, the item seems oval.

Sight is not the only sense that can be pleased to be in contact with the described thing. It is soft and velvety, and it fits right into one’s embrace making it a perfect comforter. An attentive observer will notice a smooth spot on one of its sides. This piece is also characterized by a specific muffled and even flat sound. This item is an important and aesthetic element of furniture that brings warmth, style, and, in some cases, fun.

Classmates’ Descriptions

The first classmate’s description is very detailed, which makes it easy to guess what the item is. The description of materials and shapes helped me identify the object. However, the most striking elements of this piece, at least for me, was the use of verbs. I have always thought that adjectives are central to this type of writing. Clearly, they are primary tools to depict things. However, it is clear that verbs enrich descriptions bringing more action and life to the static picture. The classmate also describes sounds and even smells, which makes the text even livelier.

The second classmate’s description is very different from the one discussed above. The author provides some details using many adjectives and focusing on its shape. I have to note that the classmate is telling rather than showing as the functions of the objects are put forward. The author reveals the feelings and emotions of people who might use the item. The text is full of nice metaphors, but the description is rather confusing.

The differences between showing and telling

The classmates’ descriptions discussed above can illustrate my points regarding the differences between showing and telling. The major difference is the subject matter of the writing. If authors provide specific details concerning the way something looks like, they show (describe) the object. People who concentrate on functions, as well as emotions items can evoke, tell as the essence rather than appearance is in the spotlight. The second difference is the number of adjectives used as this part of speech is crucial for describing objects. Although verbs can bring more colors to any description, authors should be cautious when using such words.

The third difference is related to the level of subjectivity. An effective description is as neutral as possible although it is still difficult to remain completely objective. People have different tastes and views, so the description of colors and some details can remain quite subjective. When it comes to telling, people tend to reveal their emotions and attitudes while adding some universally acknowledged or accepted attributes. For example, an individual can state that a chair is used for sitting, but it can be added that it can function as an element of games or a piece of gardening décor. These additional details depend on the authors’ experiences and preferences.

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IvyPanda. (2021, May 19). Describing an Object: Showing vs. Telling. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/describing-an-object-showing-vs-telling/

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"Describing an Object: Showing vs. Telling." IvyPanda, 19 May 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/describing-an-object-showing-vs-telling/.

1. IvyPanda. "Describing an Object: Showing vs. Telling." May 19, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/describing-an-object-showing-vs-telling/.


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IvyPanda. "Describing an Object: Showing vs. Telling." May 19, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/describing-an-object-showing-vs-telling/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Describing an Object: Showing vs. Telling." May 19, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/describing-an-object-showing-vs-telling/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Describing an Object: Showing vs. Telling'. 19 May.

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