14 Oct 2015

The power of adjectives in descriptions: cities

Hi there!

These days we've been talking about cities and we've learnt some very useful vocabulary to describe them. Below I include some of these words (remember to check their pronunciation!). Can you add any other?

Now, today I didn't want to focus solely on these adjectives, but rather highlight the effect  and crucial importance that adjectives have in our writing and speech: being able to be specific and choose the right word adds value to our language, and colour to our descriptions.

Have a look at the following text about Mexico:
Mexico City is Mexico's capital city and one of the most important political, cultural, educational and financial centres in North America. With a GDP of $411 billion US dollars in 2012, it is ranked as the eighth richest city in the world. Settling on an altitude of more than 2,000 metres, tourists are instantly enamoured by the city's glamour, cultural heritage and contemporary development. Every corner of the city is sprinkled with stories to tell of famous personalities and ancient tribes. While the Aztecs discovered and gave the city its culture and heritage, the Spanish revamped and added their touch. Today, the cultural amalgamation is mirrored in every landmark of Mexico City, be it the Templo Mayor, El Zócalo square, Catedral Metropolitana or Frida Kahlo museum.
  • What feeling do you have when you finish reading?
Now compare it with the text below, about the English city of Middlesbrough:
  • What kind of adjectives are used the most: positive, negative or neutral?
  • How does this affect the impact of the article?

(Note: No offence intended to the people in Middlesbrough. It is deliberately wildly exaggerated to show the power of negative adjectives in an English text.)

The text is evidently extremely negative, something which is mainly achieved via the adjectives used. Now, do the following:
  • Highlight all the negative adjectives/expressions.
  • Replace them with some more positive ones.
  • When you have finished, check the impact the text has on the reader now. Has it changed?
This exercise would be a very good opportunity to start using an antonyms dictionary. Check the entry "Back with dictionaries again! Enrich your vocabulary fast and easy" to learn how to do it!

1 comment:

  1. A great exercise to practice and learn more adjectives! :)