Noun phrases in descriptive writing


  • To explore the role of noun phrases in descriptive writing.
  • To consider how noun phrases can have ‘descriptive weight’.
  • For students to apply this in their own writing.

Begin by asking your asks students to discuss what ‘things’ are in this description:

In my room, there is an enormous swimming pool, and underneath one of the big windows there is an ice-cream machine.

Next, show the students the same text but with the noun phrases highlighted:

In my room, there is an enormous swimming pool, and underneath one of the big windows there is an ice-cream machine.

There's no requirement to use grammatical terminology at this point. You could ask your students what kind of patterns they see in the highlighted words, which might then lead nicely onto the next stage of the lesson.

Explain the structure of noun phrase. The explanation should include a level of grammatical detail that is (a) appropriate for your class, and (b) accurate. You might like to use the following information in your explanation:

‘Phrases’ are groups of words that are connected in some way.

A noun phrase includes a noun, a word that goes before the noun, and perhaps some adjectives.

Each phrase has a word which is the most important – this is the noun.

Using the KS1 Noun Phrase Generator on Englicious (, invite your students to experiment with the structure and content of noun phrases. This activity should consolidate students' understanding of noun phrase structures, whilst also giving them a chance to play with language.

Next, ask your students to complete a short piece of writing, describing their favourite room. They should aim to use noun phrases in their writing - as demonstrated in the opening activity, these play a useful role in populating stories with people and objects. The aim here is not to simply 'throw in' as many noun phrases as possible, but to think and choose carefully in how they construct meaning.

Finally, the class can share some of the descriptions that they have written, with the rest of the class. Other students should listen carefully, which could then lead to a short discussion about the role that noun phrases can play in descriptive writing.


Englicious is totally free for everyone to use!

But in exchange, we ask that you register for an account on our site.

If you’ve already registered, you can log in straight away.

Since this is your first visit today, you can see this page by clicking the button below.


Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-21 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Privacy | Cookies