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How to Describe a Picture in English – Spoken English Lesson

HI, I’m Michael. Welcome to Oxford Online English. In this lesson, you can learn how to describe
a picture in English. Describing a picture is useful in many English
exams; you need to describe a picture in English for exams like FCE, TOEIC or PTE. It’s also a good way to practise your general
English skills. Take an interesting picture, and try to describe
it in English. You can practise your speaking and learn some
new English vocabulary! In this lesson, you can learn how to describe
a picture in English in clear, detailed language. We’ll show you how to build an answer step-by-step. What’s the best way to start your description? Start with a summary, giving a general description
of what’s in the picture and what you can see. It’s useful to imagine that the person you’re
talking to can’t see the picture. Think: what does the other person need to
know? What do you need to say so that other people
can understand what’s in the picture? Let’s do an example. You want to summarize what you see in one
or two simple sentences. How could you do that? You could say: There are several small boats next to a beach. Or,
The picture shows a beach, with many small boats in the water nearby. Simple summaries like this make it easy to
understand the general contents of the picture. Let’s do one more:
What could you say here? Here are some possible answers: There are three people cooking in a kitchen. Or,
The picture shows three young friends cooking together. Okay, now it’s your turn. Here’s another picture:
You need to make a summary of what you see. You can use these phrases: There is… or,
There are… The picture shows… Pause the video, and make one or two sentences. You can write down your answers if you want. Okay, after your summary, you can start giving
more detail about what you see in the picture. To start giving detail, you can talk about
where things are in the picture. Here’s some useful language to help you
do this: Let’s do an example. You could say: On the left, there’s a girl with dark, curly
hair. She’s holding half a cauliflower. In the middle, there’s a man who’s chopping
vegetables. At the bottom, we can see a counter with many
different vegetables on it. When talking about photos, you might also
need the phrases: In the background… In the foreground… For example:
In the foreground, there’s a sandy beach with three metal anchors on it. In the middle, there are several small boats,
which are close to the beach. In the background, we can see the blue sea
stretching to the horizon. Let’s put all of this language together
in another example: Think first: what could you say about this
picture? Okay, let’s look at what you could say: On the left, there’s a cat sitting on a
table. On the right, there’s a man standing, though
we can’t see his face. In the background, we can see blue sky and
snowy mountains. Now it’s your turn! Here’s a picture: Pause the video, and make at least three sentences. Use the useful language you saw in this section. Again, you can write your sentences down if
you want to! Okay? What’s next? Now, the person you’re talking to should
have a good general idea about what’s in the picture you’re describing, and where
things are. Next, you should start describing your picture
in more detail. Let’s look at a picture you’ve seen before:
When adding detail, don’t try to describe everything in the picture. It’s not necessary or useful. You should add details to the most important
parts of the picture. So, for this picture, what do you think the
most important parts are? Probably, the person who took this photo took
it because of the people. So, you should focus your description on the
two people. Think: what do they look like, and what are
they doing? You could say: The two people both look unhappy or irritated. They’re sitting at the kitchen table together,
but they aren’t talking to each other. The man is staring down at the table, while
the woman is stirring her tea with a spoon. That’s just three sentences, but they add
a lot of detail to your description. Let’s try one more:
In this picture, what do you think you should focus on in your description? Fairly obviously, you should talk about the
horses. Let’s try: The horses are running through the grass. Two of them are black, but the one in the
middle is white and grey. They don’t have saddles or anything, so
they could be wild horses. Again, you can see that you can do a lot with
just a few sentences. Alright, now it’s your turn! Let’s take a picture you’ve already seen:
Pause the video and make at least three sentences to describe the picture in detail. Try to include as much information as you
can. How was that? If you want more practice, you can do the
same exercise with other pictures from this lesson, or you could use your own pictures! At this point, you’ve described the picture
in detail. So, what else can you do? Speculating… What does that mean? Speculating means talking about possibilities. For example, look at this picture:
Think about some questions: Why are the umbrellas there? Who put them there? By trying to answer questions like this, you
are speculating; you’re talking about possibilities and giving your opinion about the picture. Speculating can help you to make a longer,
more detailed answer when talking about a picture. Let’s do an example: I suppose it might be some kind of art project. Maybe one person put an umbrella up there
as a joke, and then other people started doing it, too. Let’s look at one more picture: Think, if you wanted to speculate about this
picture, what could you say? Another way to think about it: what questions
could you ask yourself about this picture? Possible ideas are: who made the footprints,
and why? Where were they going? Where is the person who made the footprints
now? There are other possibilities, of course,
so feel free to use your own ideas, too! Okay, so what could you say to speculate about
this picture? Here are some examples: The footprints must have been made by a climber
or a mountaineer. The person who made the footprints might be
standing on top of the mountain now. In our examples, you’ve seen some useful
language which you can use to speculate about a picture. Do you remember? You can use language like: I suppose… Maybe… [It] must… [He] might… Let’s practise using these once more with
another picture: Could you make four sentences, using the useful
language we just saw? Let’s do an example together: I suppose the guy is a climber, or he’s
on an adventure holiday. Maybe he climbed something, and now he’s
on the way down. He must have a lot of experience, because
his body language is quite relaxed. He might be focusing on what he’s doing,
but he might just be enjoying the view! Okay, now it’s your turn. Can you make four sentences to speculate about
this picture, using the language you’ve learned in this section? Pause the video and think about your answers! Now, you have one more thing to do. When you speculate, you can speculate about
what you can see in the picture. However, you can—and you should—speculate
about what you can’t see, too. How’s this possible? Well, think about this picture:
You can think about questions like: where and when was the picture taken? Who took the picture? What was the photographer doing there? For example: I think this could be in the USA, or maybe
Russia. It’s a good photo, so perhaps it was taken
by a professional nature photographer. You see? Talking about what you can’t see in the
picture can be very useful, and can help to add details to your answer. Let’s do one more example:
What could you say about this picture? Let’s do this one together. You could say: This must be somewhere tropical, like the
Caribbean or the Maldives. Perhaps it was taken by a tourist who came
to the beach on one of those boats. Okay, one more. This time, you have to do it yourself! Here’s your picture:
Make at least two sentences to speculate about the context of the picture. Think about where and when it was taken, who
took it, and what the photographer was doing there. How was that? Hopefully you feel more confident describing
pictures in English now. Let’s put everything you’ve learned together
and practise making longer, fluent descriptions. When you describe a picture, you should: Give a summary of what you see. Talk about where things are in the picture. Add details. Speculate about what’s in the picture. And,
Speculate about the context of the picture. Let’s make a longer answer together. We’ll start with a picture we’ve used
already: Here’s a possible longer answer: In the picture, there are two people sitting
at a table, looking unhappy. There’s a woman on the left and a man on
the right. In the middle of the picture, we can see some
things on the table, like cups of tea, biscuits, milk and so on. The two people look sad or irritated, and
they aren’t speaking to each other. They’re both looking down at the table. I suppose they had a fight and now they aren’t
talking to each other, or they might just be bored and not have anything to talk about. I guess it’s a stock photo because otherwise,
why would the photographer be in the kitchen with them? Do you think you could make an answer like
this? Remember, all the language you need is in
this lesson. You just need to take the things you practised
in each part, and then put them together. Let’s do one more example together: The picture shows umbrellas hanging in the
air. In the foreground, we can see a streetlight,
and the umbrellas fill the picture from left to right. The umbrellas are of many different colours,
mostly bright colours like pink, yellow or green. They’re hanging from wires. I can see at least four lines of umbrellas
hanging down in this way, but there could be even more. Maybe this is some sort of art project. It might also be a festival or tradition,
that people decorate the street with colourful umbrellas like this. I suppose the picture was taken in a city
or town, though I can’t tell where exactly. Perhaps the photographer was a tourist, and
was just walking around the city when he saw this amazing and strange scene. Alright, now it’s your turn. We’ll give you a new picture: Pause the video and try to make a longer answer,
like we just did. Follow the same structure. Finished? I don’t think so! You should practise as much as you can. Take the other pictures from the lesson, and
make longer answers about them, too. Practise your answers several times, until
you can do it fluently and comfortably. If you want, you can leave one of your answers
in the comments and we’ll give you feedback on your English. Don’t forget to check out Oxford Online
for more of our free English lessons. Thanks for watching! See you next time!


  1. Stanislav Baraniuk Author

    At the last picture we can see two beautiful girls, which seat in some caffe. Photo has a good resolution and a blur affect that can show quality of the camera, and tell that this photo can be advertisement of some place, or photo was bring from portfolio of some photographer. There are a few purple flowers in the middle, and two plates and bottles of water at the each hand of them. The girls keep a cups of hot chocolate or coffee with milk. There is a cold weather, cause both of the girls has a plaid.

  2. Cp tiwari Author

    In picture two friends are seatting each other and drink a cup of coffee I think is a winnter seanson and will be enjoy this season with coffee they get happy

  3. Khanh Trinh Author

    The picture shows two girls having coffee together in the street. In the foreground, there is a coffee table with a couple of water bottles and books. In the background, there are some people walking in the street. I suppose the girls are having fun because of the big smiles on their faces. They both wear scarfs and jackets so the weather must be a little bit cold. I think this photo is taken by a professional photographer because it captures the girls' happy moment perfectly.

  4. Simple Always Author

    This is a picture of two girls sitting at a coffee table in a cafe. These girls can be seen in the centre of the picture while the foreground of this picture has roundtable with two bottles and some small red flowers. The background is somewhat blurred. The girls can be seen having coffee looking into each others eye. They both look happy and excited.The weather seems to be a bit chilly as the these girls can be seen sharing a long white scarf with red lines covering their shoulders. I suppose this picture is taken in an open cafe somewhere in paris or amsterdam. Since this picture looks candid, i think it might be taken by one on their friend who is also probably with them at the coffee table.

  5. Francisco Soto Author

    I am doing my oral test tomorrow about describing places, for me it's a little complicated talk about some picture, but with this video, I consider that is more easylier 😀 Thanks for the ideas

  6. a Ff Author

    This photo was taken last year when i was going to Italy. In the picture you can see two young girls. They are similar so i think they are twins. Two girls holdind a cup of tea and smiling to each other. At the bottom you can see a table where standing wasp with flowers. It must be coffe on the street so we can see passers. Weather is not very warm and sunny. I keep the photo in my album because this photo make me happy when i look at it. I hope you like this photo as me.

  7. rabenandrasana domoina Author

    Hello, sorry now i am focussing on the spéculation, so i am going to speculate the picture in my answer.
    Please i need feed back about it.thank in advance.
    The picture shows two women sitting on the table and drinking coffe together.
    They must be friend because they look very familiar and close to each other.
    They might have been talking for while.
    Before this scene,they must have been planed to meet in this place.
    Maybe one of them had arrived sooner than the other.they could have been impatient for the meeting.
    After,they might turn back at their office and continue their work.or maybe another friend will join them and they will continue to talk.
    Or they will go home.
    Perhaps,this picture was taken by a person who was sitting in front of them.

  8. Fahad Khan Author

    one of the best method to practice english and a right way to learn and speaking language…i really need this type of video…Thanks to this channel

  9. Abdullahi Abdi Author

    Thank you so much,both of you
    I learned a lot from you,
    Keep going the good work
    that you doing, and i appreciate your.
    Am from Somalia

  10. haidy awad Author

    The picture is showing a couple of girls who seem to be feeling so cold.They are sitting at a cafe enjoying a hot drink to warm their hands and bodies. I guess they are close friends as they share the coat together and have a warm look to eachother. The photo may be taken by a third friend who wanted to surprise them in a nice way.

  11. Ela Kalkan Author

    Hi it is a good video I like I think I should watch Your videos a Lot because you are good at Telling something in English🤗🌼💎

  12. sonsuza kadar Youtube Author

    I live in Gebze I can speak english,germany,Russian(turkish). I love watching video like that I love it because I love video for its include a lot of information If you want you can write your idea about rhis vide. You can write below this video thank a lot see you I will come again😁

  13. Caro Basc Author

    "This is a woman and a man sitting face to face taking their breakfast" or "The picture shows a couple sitting in front of each other. They are having breakfast."

  14. Ahmed Afser Author

    The photo shows that tow blonde girls chatting and they look really happy while they having a nice cup of tea in the middle we can see two bottles of water the colors in the photo are really amazing i suppose that a professional photographer had took it

  15. An Do Author

    In the picture, there are two girls who are sitting at a table. The girl who is on the left has a medium-length brown hair. The girl who is on the right has a short brown hair which is in ponytail. They are both holding cups. At the bottom, there is a brown table which has some plates, a box, some flowers and two bottles of water on it. In the background, there are many people walking on the street. The two girls are wearing same scarfs and same sweaters so maybe they are friends or sister. They look excited so I suppose they are telling each other some fascinating story. They are might sitting in a cafe. The photographer may be their friend


    There are a man and a woman sitting around a table, having a drink, in a conflit situation.
    The picture shows a man and a woman sitting around a table, having a drink, in a conflit situation.
    In the foreground there's a bottle of water, two shells, sunglasses, and a hat.
    In the background we can see a cloudy sky.

  17. megha's magic Author

    In this picture we can see in.the right side there is a cap in.white colour and in the left there is a water bottle and in the middle there is a sunglasse and a small bottle .. In the table In the background of this picture seema very beautiful with clouds

  18. megha's magic Author

    There are three people standing together and cutting vegetables .. In the left side there is a girl who has curly hair , taking a half coleflower in the middle there is man chopping the Vegas and in the right side there is a girl help them

  19. megha's magic Author

    In the picture both are looking quite irrigated or they are sad ..
    They don't talk to each other . it might be they had a fight
    In the right side.the boy is looking towards down or he is sad

  20. Su Yadanar Author

    The last picture:In this picture I can see two girls laughing in the cafe and in front of them there are two bottles of mineral water they are sharing a big scarf while they are sitting.They are wearing because it is cold.

  21. Khawar Bhatti Author

    In the picture, there are two girls sitting at the street restaurant. In the foreground, there are two bottles filled with water and some flowers with plates have been seen in the picture. In the background, people are crossing the street but it could not possible to recognise the people because it is a blur. The girls are enjoying the cold weather with a cup of tea/soup. I suppose they are talking about the adventures which make them happy. I think it could be in the UK or maybe any European Country. I suppose, there is a third person with them which took the picture.

  22. TheAceGamer 23 Author

    Kann mir jemand tipps für mündliche englisch abschluss Prüfung (Bildbeschreibung) geben habe echt angst weil ich sowas nie gemacht habe

  23. Priyanka sharma Author

    It is a picture of sink in the kitchen. The colour of wall and slap is in white colour . The sink in clean and vacant. In the right side of the sink a wardrobe is at the top in which clay crockery is placed in two slaps. Below the sink a brown wardrobe is also attached for vessels surely. In the background of the kitchen out of the glass window clear whether is visible. In the middle another house is located which is of grey colour. In the front of that house two trees are also there which enhancing the outsider beauty of nature. I think this picture is taken by a dealer who wants to sell this house and to capture the outsider beauty of this house. Perhaps, Outsider beauty and well furnished kitchen will attract the costmers.

  24. Cristiana Cretu Author

    In the picture we can see two girls ,sitting on a terrace who are enjoying a coffee or a the(we can't see what they drink). I think the picture was taken in autumn, because the girls are wearing scarfs and the people who can see in the background wear jackets.
    Another detail wich I saw , it is that the girls are dressed alike and they are similar(maybe they're twins).
    In the midle of the table there is a bunch of red flowers wich suits with the scarfs of the girls.
    In my opinion , the photo was taken by a proffessional photograph ,for a magazine.

  25. anas al-dali Author

    the pictures show three people in the kitchen ,two women and a man

    the left woman is holding acauliflower ,the middle man is chopping vegetebles
    and the right woman talking to them.

  26. fahime emadi Author

    I am going to talk about my really lovely husband .He is quite tall and a little overweight. His hair has gone bald when he was 18. But I think his hair was fair. I strongly feel that he looks a bit a younger version of sattar singer as all Iranian knows him .he is absolutely warm and optimistic. He always think about positive things and he never talk about hardships. Everybody do like to hang out with him and he makes new friends anywhere he goes. Although every farms has weed Ali can be a little selfish sometimes for example he never switch off the TV whole the night !we have known each other for 3 years we met each other in mutual friend s party . We get on very well because we have a lot in common and similar attitude to life.

  27. Gayu Madhu Author

    The picture shows two young girls having a drink together. They seem like close friends because they are laughing and smiling as if they came to a trip. This place must be very cold because they are covered them with a cloth. I suppose this picture was taken in a city or town, though I can't tell where exactly. Perhaps the photographer was tourist, and was just walking around the city when he saw these beautiful girls hanging out and wanted to take a picture.

  28. Victoria Pérez Author

    in this picture I can see two girls having a good time while they are drinking a coffee sitting on a chair that is in the middle of a street in a restaurant. I think they are sisters because they look so similar and they also wear the same clothes. in the foreground there is a table and has some flowers on it with some water too. In the background I can see a few people walking in the stret and looking the views.

  29. The Modern Creator part2 Author

    in this pictures i see some things that useful when we are on the beach i see one bottle of mineral water, i see eye sun glass to protect the eyes on the hit of the sun also a lotion to protect the skin a book and a cap that lying on the table. i suppose the user of that things is girl. and back ground was so silent in cloudy . pls correct my grammar pls

  30. The Modern Creator part2 Author

    this picture shows that there are two woman looks like very happy contented of what they achieve in life. sharing their blessings together with a hot of coffee laughing. i supposed they get another promotion of their jobs maybe they have a free trip in Japan with free of everything including the pocket money i supposed. and the two woman i think they are a childhood friend best of friends i think. They always sharing thoughts and ideas every time. and it might last forever. it showed in this picture how they protect each other when trials comes. please correct my grammar

  31. The Modern Creator part2 Author

    I suppose these two person the woman in the left and the man in the right was in trouble i think it showed in the picture
    Maybe they don't know how to start to talk about their problems or the situation about their business.
    They must talk and think of what is the better solution of the current problem that they've been experience.
    They might think seriously about the situation of their business and might be prepared of the outcome. please help me

  32. Vy Huỳnh Ngọc Ý Author

    this picture show two girls are sitting in the cafe.Of course, i think they are friendship, because they maybe laughing and talking with each other. They are holding the warm cup of tea in their hands. At the bottom, we can see some things on the table, like the bottles of water, flowers and two plates.In the background, we will see some people are walking in the street. But the picture only focus two picture, so we don't see their face.I guess the photographer can be one of friend of them.

  33. Cá Mập Author

    They look like very happy when they talk to each others. The weather seems like very cold so they are sharing a long scarf with each other. I think They are holding hot coffee or hot milk to drink and to keep their body warmer. In the foreground i can see some flowers, douple bottles of water and so on. I can also see somebody is walking behind. Perhaps the picture was taken by their friends or a professional photographer so it looks very great.

  34. Kiri Chisto Author

    in the picture of 11:40 We can see a cat in a table, and a men, but we can not see is face, is a place with a lot of mountains and the picture was taked in the top of one, in this place we can see a lot of snow, so we can suppose tham that photo was taking in Rusia. If we take a look on the cat look, we can se a suspect face, so we can suppose tham that picture was taked for a Nazi before the try of invation in the sovietic union, and that cat is a nazi cat whit a lot of evils plans to win the WWII, Thanks!

  35. Archana Asawa Author

    It's very catching and realistic the foreground there are 2 girls sitting on a coffee table in a cafe looking much excited and happy too. Both of them holding cups of hot coffee perhaps and sharing the same scarf. May be it's beginning of winter season. Girls seem interested to talking to each other.i suppose they could be Best friends. In the background, we can some people walking around the cafe area. We can't recognize their faces because the picture of background part is blurry and focussed only on the girls. But we can see everyone is wearing levels of clothes. We can see some things are on the table like 2 water bottles some plates flowers etc.this moment is nicely shot by a good photographer.

  36. Vk Dj Author

    This was wonderful for me…..I felt so much interested in it. Even the pictures which were showed they Could really helps us in bringing the kind of description which needed
    Thank a lot…OOE
    the picture displays two young women who look happy and joyous.there is a girl smilling on the left while holding a cup of tea or coffee and there is another who seems amazed at something and even she is enjoying a cup of coffee.they have put a piece of cloth like shawl over them in order protect themselves from the cold. Next to them is a table, on which two glasses filled with some fluid are kept bearing a straw in each.along with it there's a menu-card, empty dishes, and flowers and a blue colured box.
    In the background there are people who are walking around on the pathway in front of restraunt or a hotel.the photographer might have
    Captured this scene in the morning
    While he was just going down the city lane


    Nice lesson. Here you go my try:
    The picture shows two smiley women sitting at a table and having a cup of joe. In the background, there are some other people in black passing by, contrasting with the two women in the foreground who are dressed in brighter colours. On the table, there are two bottles of water, artificial flowers and some other stuff. Given their appearances, I suppose the main characters of this picture are relatives, probably sisters. Maybe the woman on the left astonished the other woman by telling her boyfriend proposed to her the day before, (although there isn’t an engagement ring) Or probably the picture is taken just to show the greatness of coffee and the photographer was waiting for a great shot!

  38. hobsleigh Author

    This video was really helpful. both of you were explaining details with so much precision. hope that i am also going to do that as good as you did infront of my whole class tomorrow morning,I feel so much weight on me cause I am practically the only that is gonna pass by cause of my great English skills.

  39. hobsleigh Author

    in the middle of this picture I can see one group of three people cooking together, between the two women there is a man that's cutting vegetables with a sharp knife. According to me just by looking at this picture i can tell they are having a good time and enjoying themselves while doing that activity.

  40. hobsleigh Author

    At 2:13 , There are two persons that are sitting in front of each other, according to me they are trying to avoid making eye contacts, beside the woman's left hand, on the foreground left i can see foods which maybe means they are having dinner. Overall it seems like they have been forced to meeting each other without their consent

  41. Anoud 10 Author

    The picture shows in background ,there is blue clouds and a beach and beautiful white sand. In middle, there’s water and sunglasses and SunCream and hat .


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