ielts exam

Descriptive phrases are the brushstrokes that paint vivid images on the canvas of language in our essays for IELTS and PTE. They add depth, nuance, and flavour to our expressions, allowing us to create a more immersive experience for the reader. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of various descriptive phrases in English, exploring their locations, structures, and functions to improve our scores in our essays for IELTS and PTE. Let’s embark on a journey through the fascinating world of Adjective Phrases, Adverbial Phrases, Prepositional Phrases, Participial Phrases, Gerund Phrases, Infinitive Phrases, Appositive Phrases, and Absolute Phrases.

Adjective Phrases

Location: Adjective phrases, as the name suggests, modify or describe nouns or pronouns. They are strategically placed to provide additional information about the characteristics or qualities of the subject and are a useful tool in IELTS and PTE Writing.

Structure: Comprising an adjective and any accompanying modifiers or complements, adjective phrases enrich the noun they modify.

Function: The primary function of an adjective phrase is to add depth and detail to a sentence by describing or qualifying the subject. This enhances the reader’s understanding and visualization.


  • The mesmerizing sunset, with its vibrant hues of orange and pink, painted the sky.
  • We admired the house with vintage charm, featuring intricate woodwork and ornate details.
  • He wore a jacket made of soft, luxurious leather, exuding sophistication.
  • The classroom was filled with curious, attentive students eager to learn.
  • The movie showcased breathtaking cinematography, capturing the audience’s imagination with every frame.

Adverbial Phrases

Location: Adverbial phrases function as adverbs, providing information about how, when, where, or to what degree an action occurs. They are positioned within a sentence to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Structure: Comprising an adverb along with any accompanying modifiers, adverbial phrases convey additional details related to the action or state being described.

Function: The primary function of adverbial phrases is to enhance the context of an action, providing a more complete picture of the circumstances surrounding it.


  • The athletes ran with determination and grace, impressing both the audience and judges.
  • She answered the question quickly and confidently, showcasing her knowledge and expertise.
  • The concert continued throughout the night, captivating the audience until the early morning hours.
  • The car sped down the highway at an astonishing speed, leaving other vehicles far behind.
  • He completed the assignment with utmost precision, ensuring every detail was meticulously addressed.

Prepositional Phrases

Location: Prepositional phrases commence with a preposition and end with its object, often a noun or pronoun. They are strategically placed to provide additional information about location, time, direction, or relationships, and enrich our writing in IELTS and PTE.

Structure: Comprising a preposition, its object, and any accompanying modifiers, prepositional phrases offer a more nuanced understanding of the subject.

Function: Prepositional phrases serve the vital role of adding context to a sentence, specifying details about the subject’s surroundings, timing, or connections.


  • The cat sat on the windowsill, basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays.
  • We went for a walk along the scenic trail, enjoying the beauty of nature.
  • The keys are in the drawer, waiting to be discovered.
  • The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, allowing ample time for preparation.
  • They traveled across the vast desert, encountering breathtaking landscapes along the way.

Participial Phrases

Location: Participial phrases, functioning as adjectives, often begin with a participle (verb form ending in -ing or -ed). They are strategically placed to describe nouns or pronouns.

Structure: Comprising the participle, its object, and any accompanying modifiers, participial phrases enrich the sentence by providing additional details.

Function: Participial phrases act as powerful descriptors in IELTS and PTE Writing, offering insights into the characteristics or conditions of the subject they modify.


  • The girl, smiling brightly, handed out flyers, spreading joy to everyone she met.
  • The old man, worn out from his journey, sat on the bench, reflecting on a life well-lived.
  • The chef, creating a culinary masterpiece, garnered applause from a delighted audience.
  • The forest, covered in a blanket of snow, looked enchanting under the winter moon.
  • The artist, inspired by nature, painted vibrant landscapes that evoked a sense of wonder.

Gerund Phrases

Location: Gerund phrases function as nouns, often serving as subjects, objects, or complements within a sentence. They begin with a gerund (verb form ending in -ing).

Structure: Comprising the gerund, its object, and any accompanying modifiers, gerund phrases convey the action in a more substantive manner in IELTS and PTE Writing.

Function: Gerund phrases represent actions or states, playing a crucial role in defining the subject’s activities or characteristics.


  • Reading books is her favorite pastime, providing both pleasure and knowledge.
  • Swimming in the ocean is an exhilarating experience that invigorates the body and soul.
  • Writing poetry requires creativity and inspiration, allowing emotions to flow onto the page.
  • Eating healthy food is essential for maintaining overall well-being and vitality.
  • Skiing down the slope is a thrilling adventure that tests one’s skill and courage.

Infinitive Phrases

Location: Infinitive phrases function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs and begin with the infinitive form of the verb (to + base form of the verb). They are strategically placed to provide additional information about the subject.

Structure: Comprising the infinitive, its object, and any accompanying modifiers, infinitive phrases offer insights into the purpose, intent, or characteristics of the subject.

Function: Infinitive phrases serve a versatile role in IELTS and PTE Writing, acting as subjects, objects, or providing additional information about the subject.


  • To travel the world is her lifelong dream, encompassing a desire for exploration and adventure.
  • He had the ambition to become a successful entrepreneur, underscoring his determination and vision.
  • The best way to learn a language is through immersion, immersing oneself in a new linguistic environment.
  • She worked hard to achieve her goals, embodying perseverance and dedication.
  • His passion is to explore new technologies, reflecting a curiosity for innovation and progress.

Appositive Phrases

Location: Appositive phrases, set off by commas, provide additional information about a noun or pronoun, clarifying or specifying its identity.

Structure: Comprising the appositive, its modifiers, and the noun or pronoun it identifies, appositive phrases enrich the sentence with descriptive details.

Function: Appositive phrases add depth and clarity to the subject in IELTS and PTE Writing, offering more context or highlighting specific aspects of its identity.


  • My friend, an accomplished musician, performed at the concert, showcasing both her talent and expertise.
  • The sculpture, a masterpiece by Michelangelo, was on display, attracting art enthusiasts from around the world.
  • My sister, a dedicated scientist, is researching climate change, contributing to the global understanding of environmental issues.
  • The city, known for its bustling streets, never sleeps, pulsating with energy and activity.
  • John Lennon, the legendary musician, inspired generations with his music, leaving an indelible mark on the world.

Absolute Phrases

Location: Absolute phrases consist of a noun and a participle, often providing additional information about the subject. They are positioned independently or alongside the main clause.

Structure: Comprising the noun, the participle, and any accompanying modifiers, absolute phrases contribute to the overall context of the sentence.

Function: Absolute phrases offer insights into the subject’s condition, emotions, or surroundings, often providing a snapshot of the moment in IELTS and PTE Writing.


  • The sun setting, the beach became a tranquil haven, bathed in the warm glow of twilight.
  • His work completed, John took a moment to relax, enjoying the sense of accomplishment.
  • The storm subsided, the city emerged from its shelters, greeted by a newfound calmness.
  • The project finished, we celebrated our success, reveling in the collective achievement.
  • The concert concluded, the audience erupted in applause, expressing their appreciation for the performance.


In this extensive exploration of descriptive phrases, we’ve navigated the intricate landscape of Adjective Phrases, Adverbial Phrases, Prepositional Phrases, Participial Phrases, Gerund Phrases, Infinitive Phrases, Appositive Phrases, and Absolute Phrases. Understanding the location, structure, and function of each type empowers writers of essays for IELTS and PTE to wield these linguistic tools with precision, creating narratives that captivate and engage readers. As you embark on your writing journey, remember that mastering descriptive phrases is an art, allowing you to breathe life into your words and paint vibrant images in the minds of your audience. Whether crafting a vivid narrative, persuasive argument, or informative piece, the judicious use of descriptive phrases elevates your writing to new heights, leaving a lasting impression on your readers.