How to describe photos and pictures

for the B1 Cambridge test (PET)

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In some English exams you have to speak or write about photos or pictures.

Here is a list of useful vocabulary and expressions for describing pictures or photos for oral/written exams.

What is there in the picture?
(people, things, animals, places, etc)
In the picture I can see
There is a/ an +(adjective)+ singular noun
There are (a couple/some/ a lot of) + (adjective) + plural noun
There isn’t a + (adjective) + singular noun
There aren’t any + (adjective) + plural noun
What is happening?
(actions & weather)
For actions use present continuous
The person/ animal is +verb-ing
The people are + verb-ing
It’s raining/ snowing, etc.
It’s bright/ dark/ sunny/ cold/ hot, etc.
What might be happening?
(If something in the picture is not clear you can make a guess)

It looks like a + noun
It looks as if + person/animal + verb …
It looks as though + persona/animal + verb …
It seems that person/animal is …
Maybe the person/animal is + verb-ing
The person/animal might be +verb-ing
What could have happened before?
(You can use your imagination and make a guess about the actions that happened before the picture was taken)
The person/animal might have + past participle
The person/animal may have + past participle
The person/animal could have + past participle
The person/animal couldn’t have + past participle
Where in the picture?
(location/ position)
At the top/bottom of the picture …
In the foreground …
In the background ….
In the middle/ center of the picture …
On the left/right of the picture …
next to
in front of
across from
behind
near
on top of
under

Now that you know the vocabulary and phrases that should be included in picture description, let’s see an example:

I think this is a family photo. There are five people, all of them are smiling. They are having lunch in the dinning room. The dining room is so bright and modern. In the background we see the kitchen and some appliances. For example, a microwave and a coffee maker.

In the foreground
we see the mother sitting at the head of the table. It seems that the she is taking a selfie. Her children are sitting around the table. On the left side of the photo there are a boy and a girl. The girl is smiling. The boy has his mouth open and he looks as he is going to eat the whole spaghetti.

There are two teenagers sitting across from the children. The young man is smiling and the young woman is posing for the photo. The young man has his arm around the young woman.

There are five plates with spaghetti, three glasses of orange juice, and two glasses of red wine on the table. There might be some bread in the middle of the table.The food looks very delicious.

They might be having a video call with the father. The father could have traveled for work to a different city. It looks as though they are having a good time. This photo reminds me when I was younger and I used to have lunch with my family every Sunday.
Time to practice

The best way to improve your writing and speaking is to practice. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Remember that practice makes progress.

Choose ONE picture and describe it.

What can you see in the picture? Write your answer in the comments below

29 thoughts on “How to describe photos and pictures

  1. In the picture we can see three people. They are in the living room. The living room is so bright and clean.

    In the foreground we can see a girl. The girl seems to be excited. It seems that she is looking at the map and turned to talk to her mom about where she wants to go.

    In the background we see the father and the mother. Mom and Dad also seem to be having a good time talking to the girl about where they are going to go.

    The floor seems to be the place where they put half-prepared luggage. It seems that they are checking to see if anything is missing.

    The mother seems to be happy because she won’t do housework. The girl looks excited to go on a trip with her parents. Dad seems to be enjoying the family’s upcoming trip.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In this photo, we can see three people. They seem to be a family. They are in the living room. The father and the mother are sitting on the sofa in the background and the daughter is sitting on the rug in the foreground. On the rug in front of the girl in the center of the image, there is an open suitcase. The family looks very happy. In the suitcase, there are clothes, headphones, and a map. The girl is wearing a hat and holding a paper. Next to her mother who is sitting on the sofa, it seems to be a suitcase on the floor. It seems to me that they are leaving or arriving home from a trip and are excited about it.

        Like

  2. In the picture I can see three people. There is a young couple and a girl, all of them are smiling. They are in the living room. There is a sofa with some cushions and maybe a tall lamp. Next to it, I can see a plant and a big brown carpet on the floor. The Living room is so bright and modern.

    The couple is sitting on the sofa and the woman is holding a shirt. On her left, on the floor and in front of sofa there is a backpack. The woman seems happy and she doesn’t have any shoes.
    The man looks happy too and he has on the legs, maybe, some clothes.

    In the foreground, I can see, that on the floor over the rug there is a headphone, a map and a laptop. Behind them, there is a suitcase with some clothes, and to it left I can see a girl on her knees. She is wearing shorts, socks and a striped blue and white shirt. In her head she has a brown hat and a map. She is smiling and she seems to be happy.

    They might be preparing everything for the girl’s trip. Maybe she is going to study to another country for a few moths.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In this photo, we can see three people. It seems that they are a happy family because they look relaxed in their living room.

    There is a map in front of the picture, and to its left, there is a headset. In the center, there is a girl who might have traveled abroad with other students. I think, she just came back home. She looks as if she is talking a lot about her trip. If you look in front of her, on the carpet, there is an open suitcase. Maybe she is giving presents to her parents. They are sitting on the back sofa, the mother has a shirt on her hands and the father has a sweater on his legs.

    This photo reminds me of when I traveled with my friends and on every trip, I bought some presents for my family. However, they felt happy for me, not for presents. Well, I liked to think that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think this is a family photo. There are three people who are smiling. They are talking about a trip in their nice living room. In the foreground, there is a map, headphones, and a suitcase. On the right side of the photo, there is a little girl who is holding a map.

    In the background we see her parents, they are sitting on the sofa and putting some clothes in the baggage. It seems that they are planning a vacation trip. They might be planning a tour around Europe. Maybe the trip is coming soon because they look excited.

    It looks as though they are having a good time. This photo reminds me of when my family and I were planning our last family trip last year. We really enjoyed that vacation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In the photo, I can see three people. There is a young couple and a girl who seems to be their daughter. They are all very smiling. They are in the living room of their house where there is a sofa with cushions, a tall lamp, and a large brown rug on the floor. It seems that it is a very comfortable place with a lot of space.

    The parents are sitting on the sofa. The mother is holding a shirt and her father is holding a sweater and a scarf. The girl is on her knees in front of her suitcase. In her hands, she has a map, a blue and white striped sweater, shorts, and a brown hat. Next to her suitcase, there is a laptop, a map, and headphones. Her face shows that she is very happy, and she is telling her parents about the experience she had on that wonderful trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In the picture I see one family: mother, father and daughter. Everyone seems happy because they are going to travel. They are in the living room.

    In the center I see a black suitcase with clothes. In the foreground I see one laptop, one map and headphone. In the right I see the daughter who is smiling. She is sitting on the carpet. She is wearing a brown hat. She has a map in her hand.

    In the background, we can see a happy couple sitting on the sofa. They are talking to their daughter about what they might do on vacation. Next to them, I see a beautiful bonsai.

    I hope this vacation will be a success!

    Like

  7. I think it is a family picture. I can see three people, and all of them are smiling. They are packing in the foreground of the room. The room is a nice place, it’s modern, organized, and clean. The room has natural light. In the background, I see a sofa that may be comfortable, there are some pillows on the sofa, and on the right of the sofa, there is a lamp and a plant.
    I can see a lot of things inside and outside a suitcase. There are clothes outside the suitcase and there is a map, a laptop, and headphones inside the suitcase.
    There are two adults sitting on the left of the child. The young man is smiling like a child. The young man is folding the clothes. The young woman has long and beautiful black hair. The woman is smiling like a child, and she is folding a gray shirt. On the right of the woman, I can see a black backpack.
    The child is sitting on her knees. She is smiling. She is folding the map.
    I think they are pretty relaxed and having fun. They all may be packing because the child will travel for the first time, or she will go to a summer camp with her friends.

    Like

  8. In the picture I can see three people. It seems to be a family gathered in the living room.

    In the foreground, in the center, I see a map, a headset and an open suitcase on the carpet. It looks as if the family is getting ready to go on vacation. In front of the suitcase, there is a girl very excited. She seems to be holding a map and talking to her parents about their trip.

    In the background, I see a man and a woman sitting on the sofa. They seem to be sorting out their clothes for the trip and they are smiling and making plans with their daughter.

    The environment is light and clean. This picture reminds a place of peace, joy, and harmony.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think it is a family picture. We can see four people and a dog in the center of the picture. Maybe a father, a mother, a bigger brother, and his sister. The mother is sitting on a bench in the middle of them. She is smiling, closing her eyes, and hugging her son and daughter. The sister is sitting on her mother’s lap. She is laughing, opening her mouth. She is holding her hands on her chest, one hand is grabbing her mother’s hand, and the other is grabbing her father’s hand. The bigger brother is leaning on the right side of his mother. His right hand is touching the dog’s leg. The dog is looking far away. The father is standing behind the mother. His arms are tightly hugging them. His right cheek is sticking to the mother’s left forehead.

    In the background I can see grass and a water stream. We can see full of clouds in the sky. They are all wearing casual clothes. Maybe the location is by their house. It looks like they are walking outside after dinner. Suddenly, It may have been windy, so the father immediately hugged them. The picture instantly makes you speculate about who the people are and what loving they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. In this picture I see a family photo. This family is happy. They spend their day off in the nature. In the center of this photo, I see two children sitting on a bench. To the left of the children, I see a dog looking at the family. Behind the children, I see their parents hugging their children. In the background I see a river and a beach, a lot of grass, and trees.

    Like

  11. I think this is a family photo. There are three people, all of them are sitting and smiling.
    They are in the living room. The living room is so big and comfortable.

    In the foreground we see, there is a girl sitting on the floor on a rug. It seems that the
    girl is talking with her parents and remembering stories about something.
    In the background her parents are sitting on a sofa together. On the left side of the
    photo there is a window it looks like it’s a big window though in the photo you only see
    part of it.

    In the middle of the picture there is an open suitcase with clothes near headphones
    and any paper map in front of the girl. The people might have been on vacation. It seems as
    if they talk about how they enjoyed their trip while unpacking a suitcase.

    The family looks excited to have come home to share all their travel memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think this is a family photo. In the foreground we can see four people and a dog. Maybe it’s father, mother, daughter, and son. The mother is sitting on a chair, and she is between the rest of the family. She sits with her eyes closed and smiles, and her daughter sits on her lap. The girl is wearing a denim dress and a pink sweater. To the left of the daughter is the father, who hugs her with his arm. The mother is wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans and a plaid shirt. The father is wearing a light shirt and blue jeans. He is smiling and looking at the dog. The son is sitting son to the right of his mother. He is smiling and maybe laughing. He is wearing a light blue shirt and jeans. He is holding a dog that is sitting to his right. The dog looks like it’s hot. She/He looks at the girl.
    In the background I see a river. The meadow ends with a small forest. On the river we see a wooden building to go down to the water. Maybe people are fishing there. I also think that the river is small because we can see the opposite bank.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. In this photo, there are three people in the living room. They seem like a family. All of them are smiling. They seem to be planning a a trip.

    In the foreground, there is a little girl with a hat smiling and holding a map.
    It seems like she looks forward to the travel.

    In the background, there is a couple sit on the sofa. They are packing clothes, and they both look at the little girl. It looks like the girl is talking about something interesting.

    In the center of the photo, there is a suitcase. The clothes are random in the suitcase. The map, the headphones, and the notebook are outside on the carpet.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think this is a loving family photo. It seems that they are camping near to the lake. It’s cloudy, not cold, not hot. The weather is very nice, and there is a good camping area.
    In the foreground there are five family members, dad, mum, two girls, and a dog. The mum, two girls and their lovely dog are sitting on a chair. Mum is hugging two girls and one girl is putting his hand around the dog. It looks as if the dad is giving a big hug from the behind of the chair. Both of them are smiling, including the dog who is looking at the loving family, It looks as if they are so relaxed.
    It seems that they have traveled for a long time. Firstly they need to have a rest on the chair, after that, they will go inside the tent. In the background there is a lake where people can go fishing during the camping period. This photo reminds me that it is important to go out or go camping with our family. It will help us to have closer relationship with our families.

    Liked by 1 person

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