What is Sensory Language?

Sensory language is a type of descriptive writing. It is a descriptive writing style that primarily focuses on the five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.


What is Sensory Language
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Hey guys welcome to this Mometrix Video on Sensory Language.

So I just came back from a trip, and I want to tell you all about it.

So, there was a tree. Then, we went fishing. We saw a bear. We had a fire. It was awesome!

Well, I guess I didn’t give you enough detail…

Let me try again.

My grandpa and I went camping in the mountains where we were surrounded by towering green pine trees that whispered as the wind gently rustled their needles. The sweet smell of the pines was so pleasant you could almost taste it. One bright morning, I was awakened by the soft whistling of the birds, and the glorious hint of maple wafting through the air as bacon sizzled over the campfire. “Breakfast is ready,” grandpa said. I had never been more excited to hear those words. The savory bacon was just the right amount of sweet and salty. After breakfast, we grabbed our new bright red fishing poles and went fishing along the rocky bank of a gently flowing river. We nearly fell asleep to the soft babble of the flowing water; with our bellies full, and the wind gently combing through our hair, it was the perfect storm. Then, out of nowhere we were shaken from our daze by a loud splash in the water. We quickly looked to where the sound came from, and there it was. It stood ten feet high, with long light brown hair and paws bigger than the size of my face! It was a bear! We stood motionless, with eyes wide, and not knowing what to do. I could feel my heart pounding, hoping it wouldn’t jump out of my chest, and disrupt the bear. The bear continued to grab at the water, until out came a slippery red colored fish. After he got his fill, he quietly made his way back up the mountain slowly disappearing into the cluster of pines. It was awesome!

Now that’s more like it.

Sensory language brings our writing to life, and it helps the reader to feel like they are a part of the experience.

Sensory language are words that link readers to the five senses: Touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste.

Let’s look at some sensory language that help us to experience each of these senses.

TOUCH. If you touch a pillow it might feel soft, fuzzy, cushiony, smooth, or maybe silky. If you touch a cactus it might feel prickly, spikey, thorny, sharp, or rough.

Now, touch and sight sometimes have similar words to describe something. Something may feel spikey, but it may also look spikey. A pillow might feel fluffy, but it may also look fluffy. So, one helpful way to know if it’s talking about touch is to look for words or phrases like, feels, felt, to the touch, and so on. For sight look for words like, saw, see, spy, appear, or looks like.

SOUND. Phones make a ringing sound, dogs make a barking noise, snakes make a hissing sound, babies make a crying sound, wolves make a howling sound, and I could go on and on. Sound is just anything that you can hear with your ears.

What about SMELL? If you smell someone’s sweaty workout clothes they might smell sour, stinky, sweaty, ripe, rotten, or repulsive. Clothes that just came out of the dryer might smell clean, fresh, and, depending on what soap you used, they might smell flowery, lemony, or sweet.

Taste, also, uses a lot of the same language as smell does. Something might smell lemony, but it can also taste like lemon. Something might smell rotten, and it might taste rotten too. But remember just like with touch and sight, we have to look for keywords. Keywords or phrases for smell might be “smells like,” “the smell of”, or if the writer is referring to the nose. Keywords or phrases for taste might be “tastes like”, “the taste of”, or if the writer is referring the mouth or taste buds.

Now let’s, look back at the first story of my trip and try to identify any sensory language.

“So, there were trees. Then, we went fishing. We saw a bear. We had a fire. It was awesome!”

There was a tree. Most of your probably know what a tree looks like, but there are so many different trees, you have no idea what kind, what color, or if the trees are alive. So nope. No sensory language. We went fishing. You can probably imagine what fishing looks like, but you don’t know for sure if we are using nets, poles, or where we even went to fish. No sensory language. We saw a bear. Was it a black bear, a brown bear, a polar bear, or a koala bear. Was it big, small, or medium size? Who knows, no sensory details here. “We had a fire.” what kind of fire? Was it big, or small? What was on fire? No sensory details here.

Let’s see if we can find any sensory language in my second story.

“My grandpa and I went camping in the mountains where we were surrounded by towering green pine trees that whispered to us as the wind gently rustled their leaves. The sweet smell of the pines was so pleasant you could almost taste it. One bright morning, I was awoken by the soft whistling of the birds, and the glorious hint of maple wafting through the air as bacon sizzled over the campfire. “Breakfast is ready,’ grandpa said in his gruff voice . I had never been more excited to hear those words. The savory bacon was just the right amount of sweet and salty. After breakfast we grabbed our new bright red poles and went fishing along the rocky bank of a gently flowing river. We nearly fell asleep to the soft babble of the flowing water; with our bellies full, and the wind gently combing through our hair, it was the perfect storm. Then, out of nowhere we were shaken from our daze by a loud splash in the water. We quickly looked to where the sound came from, and there it was. It stood ten feet high, with long light brown hair and paws bigger than the size of my face! It was a bear! We stood motionless, with eyes wide, and not knowing what to do. I could feel my heart pounding,hoping it wouldn’t jump out of my chest, and disrupt the bear. The bear continued to grab at the water, until out came a slippery red colored fish. After he got his fill, he quietly made his way back up the mountain slowly disappearing into the cluster of pines. It was awesome!”

Surrounded helps the reader to visualize how many trees there are all around them. Towering lets the reader see how tall the trees are. Sweet and pleasant let the reader know how it smelled in the mountains. Soft whistling and sizzled let the reader know how things sound. Savory, sweet, and salty let the reader know how things taste. Full and gently combing let you know how something felt.

The more sensory language you have, the more you help the reader to experience your writing, as if they were right there with you.

I hope this was helpful. Be sure to practice using sensory language on your own, and have fun bringing your writing to life, and be sure to check out more of our videos right here.

See you next time!


Provided by: Mometrix Test Preparation

Last updated: 03/19/2018

 

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