for the B1 Cambridge test (PET)
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?|
|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 …
in front of
on top of
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