Writing Comes Alive! – Precise Nouns to Describe Occupations

Hi everyone, I’m Ms Atifa, an English teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. Have you ever written a composition where you had a character who has an occupation such as a policeman or a firefighter? Or perhaps even a teacher? Today, let’s find out how using precise nouns to describe occupations can help to make your writing come alive!

When writing compositions, it’s important that the descriptions of your characters are vivid, engaging and accurate. For certain topics, it would definitely be recommended to include characters from different occupations if they are relevant to your story. For instance, if you’re writing about “A Fire”, you would probably want to include firefighters in your story to add a realistic element. Perhaps you might even write from the perspective of a firefighter! Whether you are exploring the perspective of a character from a certain job, or including a character in your story who is from a certain profession, it’s important to ensure that you use precise nouns to describe them. It would be even more impressive if you are able to describe their attire in a way that is specific to their occupation.

So, what exactly are precise nouns? As you might know, nouns refer to people, animals, places or things. However, precise nouns convey specific images which would help a reader imagine a person, animal, place or thing better. It is also good to combine precise nouns with interesting adjectives for a clearer image of what your character looks like. Let’s take a look at three different occupations you might want to write about in your compositions, and some precise nouns you can use to describe their attires. Some of these nouns are combined with interesting adjectives.

1. Firefighter

2. Doctor

3. Nurse

However, remember not to just list the attire of the characters you are writing about! Think of combining these precise nouns with your character’s actions and/or emotions, so that you don’t end up sounding like you’re just describing their outfit. This is because when you are writing a story, you should avoid focusing only on the character’s appearance and make sure to include your character’s actions and emotions as these will help to move the plot as well as engage your readers.

As such, avoid using precise nouns this way:

The fireman was wearing a black bunker gear with neon strips and a breathing apparatus mask. He was holding a long, snake-like hose.

Instead, use precise nouns meaningfully so that you do not sound like you are just listing. To help you do so, think about the situation the firefighter is in – what would he/she be doing in relation to the objects or items? How he/she is feeling? When describing actions, remember to use vivid verbs or pair them with suitable adverbs. So for instance, the firefighter could be tightening the breathing apparatus around his face in preparation to enter the burning building. For emotions, use show-not-tell phrases to make the descriptions more interesting. For example, to show the firefighter’s determination, you could use the phrase ‘with determination in his eyes’.

Putting it all together, your improved paragraph should look something like the one below. Take note that the words/phrases in bold and labelled are the actions and emotions of the character while the precise nouns are highlighted in purple:

Now, you can try coming up with a short paragraph based any of the above pictures and precise noun phrases too! I hope that you use some of these newly learnt precise nouns in your compositions next time. Most importantly, remember to combine the character’s actions and emotions with these nouns. If you like to share the paragraphs that you have written, do upload them in the comments section below. Bye for now and happy writing!

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Ms Atifa

In her time teaching, she has incorporated elements of drama into her classes to engage her lower primary students. She tries her best to get to know all of her students and is always keen to find out each of their interests and hobbies. She believes that each student has personalised needs, and aims to make lessons fun and helpful for all of her students.

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