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Describing a Location

As I mentioned in the introductory lesson on the topic of English for travelling, you will need to describe your city to your visitor(s) at some point, preferably early in the invitation stage. You need to talk about what the place offers in a passionate way, so that your guests will sense the attraction.

I think the best of the places I travelled to last year was Denmark, and I stopped with a friend of mine in the capital, Copenhagen.

I suggest let’s take this example of a description of this lovely city:

"Come and be charmed by Copenhagen, Northern Europe’s cosiest capital, packed with cafés, shops and the best restaurants in Scandinavia. From the winding streets of the beautiful old town and grand royal palaces to the city’s cutting-edge buildings and attractions, Copenhagen is the perfect blend of old world and new. Hop on a bike or stroll the city on foot and take in its laid-back atmosphere and effortless sense of style."

How did they do it?

Now, let’s decompose it, for you to realise the structure it has, so you could then use that structure in your own description of a place:

  •  we have two verbs in the imperative mood (expressing an order or an instruction): [Come] and [be charmed];
  • because ‘be charmed’ is a passive, we need to mention the subject of the action, i.e. who exactly is charming you? [by Copenhagen];
  • between two commas we have a brief clarification about the previous name: Copenhagen, which is [Northern Europe’s cosiest capital];
  • after that explanation we have another verb [packed with], which is meant as an illustration of the atmosphere of the place for the purpose of describing it to visitors;
  • OK, when you say that something is ‘packed with something’, then you need to offer an enumeration of a few examples of what exactly it is packed with – in our case here it is [cafés], [shops] and [the best restaurants in Scandinavia]. You see… only two examples would be too few, but more than three would be too many.
  • in the first part of the second complex sentence we have an adverbial of location. This one refers to a stretch of the place, from A to B, but pay attention to the style of the A and the B: A is one word [streets] whereas B is made of two words [buildings and attractions]. They both have a describing adjective in front of them: [the streets are winding] and [the buildings and attractions are cutting-edge]. Moreover, we have a possessive with each one, telling us who or rather what they belong to: [streets of the beautiful old town and grand royal palaces] and [the city’s cutting-edge buildings and attractions];
  • now that we captured from where to where something happens, we are ready to figure out what exactly does happen? In this promotional description it is the ‘perfection’ of Copenhagen itself. The City itself is [the perfect blend];
  • once you mention a ‘blend’, you need to explain what the blend consists of, in this case [blend of old world and new]
  • to end with, we have another combination of three verbs in the imperative mood [hop (on a bike)] or [stroll (the city)] and [take in (and here we have a combination of two things one can take in: [laid-back atmosphere] and [effortless sense of style]

And this is it, my friends… but how poetically beautiful is it put forth to you – would you not feel the urge to go and visit Copenhagen?

How do WE do it?

Try your hand at paraphrasing this description. Take the example below, where I replaced all the elements in the original text my words and I built a similar piece, inviting you to visit the resort of Mojácar, in the south of Spain.

Original text:

[be charmed]
[by Copenhagen],
[Northern Europe’s cosiest capital],
[packed with]
[the best restaurants in Scandinavia].
[From the winding streets]
[of the beautiful old town and grand royal palaces]
[to the city’s cutting-edge buildings and attractions],
[Copenhagen is the perfect blend]
[old world]
[Hop on a bike]
[stroll the city on foot]
[take in]
[its laid-back atmosphere]
[effortless sense of style].

My text:

[be enchanted]
[by Mojácar],
[Southern Spain’s tourist coast town],
[bursting with]
[tapas bars],
[great beach chiringuitos].
[From the cobbled streets]
[of old Mojácar village and the timeworn Spanish church]
[to the modern beach resort and residential area],
[Mojácar is a great combination]
[laid-back lifestyle]
[seaside attractions].
[Take a ride in a limousine]
[wander barefoot along the beach]
[its cool vibes]
[friendly welcoming spirit].

How do YOU do it?

I am really glad to see that some of our members have actually read the e-zine including this lesson by the following day of publishing it and one member also sent back the description of his city in China.

Gung is one of our advanced self-taught students, who always dares sharing his ideas in his own words, so his present contribution is not a paraphrasing of the above text. We shall all accept the mistakes in the piece and I shall post a correction of it (in a constructive manner) at a later stage, for all to learn from this exercise. Until then - well done you!

"My city is a very dirty one where you can see what a dirty city in the world through your eyes, where you can almost see every one spit everywhere.

I tell your about these don't mean here the city is not worth your to come here for a short looking or visiting. It is very worth to visit though, by contraries. Just like a perfect film in which have beautiful views and beautiful actors but at same time have also dirty corners and ugly actors.

Einstein's theory of relativity will be very useful for yours when you come here especially you have been thinking your there is not good than others. So, I believe the city still can leave a deep impression after your visiting, lol.
The city can as a very good teaching material by negative example for travelling and for visitors."

Please continue to send your contributions

This website is meant for all the members to use it as a practising platform, just like Gung did today. All your contributions will be appreciated and treated constructively. Once you start, it will be easy to continue!

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