Sensory Language

Sensory language is the use of details from the five senses to add color and depth to writing. It helps readers visualize the scene a writer is setting.


Example 1

From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:

[Mrs. Flowers’] skin was a rich black that would have peeled like a plum if snagged, but then no one would have thought of getting close enough to Mrs. Flowers to ruffle her dress, let alone snag her skin.

Example 2

From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:

I looked around the room that I had never in my wildest fantasies imagined I would see. Browned photographs leered or threatened from the walls and the white, freshly done curtains pushed against themselves and against the wind.

Example 3

From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:

They were flat round wafers, slightly browned on the edges and butter-yellow in the center


Example 1

From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:

“It was the best of times and the worst of times . . .” [Mrs. Flowers’] voice slid in and curved down through and over the words. She was nearly singing. I wanted to look at the pages. Were they the same that I had read? Or were there notes, music, lined on the pages, as in a hymn book? Her sounds began cascading gently. I knew from listening to a thousand preachers that she was nearing the end of her reading, and I hadn’t really heard, heard to understand, a single word.


Example 1

From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:

The odors in the house surprised me. Somehow I had never connected Mrs. Flowers with food or eating or any other common experience of common people. […] The sweet scent of vanilla had met us as she opened the door.


Example 1

From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:

The sweet vanilla flavor was still on my tongue and [Mrs. Flowers’] reading was a wonder in my ears. I had to speak.


Example 1

From Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:

I jammed one whole cake in my mouth and the rough crumbs scratched the insides of my jaws, and if I hadn’t had to swallow, it would have been a dream come true.


  1. Can you recommend another website to get more examples?ulises

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t know one right off the top of my head. Perhaps Google?

  3. Great examples! Helped alot!!

  4. Thank you for the well-thought-out, constructive feedback on the site. I especially appreciate the care you took to be grammatically correct and write in a proper, formal voice. In an age of short, grammatically atrocious, vitriolic nonsense that the anonymity of the Internet inspires, it’s good to see someone take the time to craft a thought-provoking analysis of what we’re doing here.

  5. this really helped me with my language work and my grade 5 class did a project on the subjet , so, this really helped and thanks a ton 🙂

  6. Thanks I am a eight grader this helped me a lot

  7. i got an assignment and this help tanks.XD

  8. Anti aircraft artillery!

  9. i is in 7th grade and dis did nut help me sad phace :c

  10. I’m more concerned about your spelling and grammar. Hope your teacher is giving you some help with that.

  11. helped me very much:)

  12. Great — that’s why I put it on the site!

  13. I have a year 11 english assignment, this really helped 🙂 thank you

  14. I’m glad you found it useful. Thanks for sharing.

  15. This sucks!! Make it to where a 5th grader can understand!! #this#sucks

  16. I appreciate the constructive criticism. The irony of your complaint says more than the complaint itself.

  17. Thank u a ton????

  18. You sound a little unsure.

  19. Do you know what part of speech it is?!?

  20. These comments are absolute gold on your part, Mr. Scott! Seriously though, thank you for taking the time to help us all out here! Great examples! 🙂

  21. Mr. Scott,
    Wonderful examples! Thank you for using such a rich piece of literature to showcase sensory language. Even better than the actual document are your responses to the comments. Thanks for the humor.

  22. Mr scott is this the only sensory language because there is many which only one from here would be sensory language 1. Directions: Select the correct text in the passage.
    Which sentence from the passage uses sensory language?

    At the Starting Line

    Beads of sweat glistened across Miguel’s forehead as he marched to the starting line. Miguel tried to calm his nerves, but he inhaled and exhaled so deeply and expressively that everyone turned around to look at him. Miguel barely noticed all the stares. He was focused on the race; he had mapped out every movement that he was going to make. Those moves, he believed, were essential to his victory at the other end of the track. Okay, Miguel, you just need to do what you practiced every single day of the year, Miguel thought. He readied himself at the starting line and crouched down in the starting position. Then, he heard Pop! Miguel immediately lunged forward, bursting with energy. He pumped his legs and arms as quickly as he could, and before he knew it, the race was over. Miguel, drenched in sweat, breathed heavily and waited for the voice of the announcer. Then, he heard the standings and knew that he had accomplished what he had set out to do.

  23. Sensory language is anything that appeals to one of the five senses: anything we might hear, or see, or taste, or feel, or smell. It can also appeal to multiple senses. Beads of sweat, for example, might appeal to sight and feel, and if the author says that the sweat is forming on a character’s upper lip, we might also imagine the saltiness that might produce.

    Apply those principles to this passage, and I’m sure you’ll do fine.

  24. What would be good for energetic

  25. I don’t know. You’ll have to scour the list.

  26. Thank you SO much! This helped very much with an assignment I am working on.

  27. did not help at all

  28. I appreciate your comment, thoughtful and constructive as it was. However, I would recommend you not work so much on sensory language as spelling, as you misspelled the expletive in your nom de plume.

  29. Thank u I really needed this for my reading homework

  30. Glad to be of service.

  31. Thank you so much! This helped me to prepare for my final exam!

  32. I’m’ glad it was useful. Good luck on the exam!

  33. thank you. this has helped me understand what sensory appeal is. Thank you. Meow.

  34. Very helpful website!
    I am in grade 6

  35. this is awsome ononomous

  36. think you your soo soo helpful

  37. Thanks my dewd It helped a lot even though my teacher didn’t tell us exactly what it is he wanted us to do. I can tell you taken a while to do work on this website.

  38. I can imagine it might not be all that helpful to someone like you. For instance, you need to learn to use the basics of capitalization and punctuation. When you’ve mastered these basics, you can try incorporating sensory language. It’s a step above your current skill set, I think. But thank you for the constructive criticism.

  39. Hey I really like this site. I just have one suggestion. Maybe you can add the origins and roots of the words. Thanks

  40. You supply the information, and I’ll gladly post it here. 🙂

  41. Mr.Scott you’re cool as ice! 🙂

Please let me know how I can help you.