English vocabulary: Talking about people
Here are some useful words and phrases to describe someone's physical characteristics and personality.
He looks like… (his sister)
He's like … (his brother)
(For more details on be like and look like, see our English speaking page on how to use like, be like and look like.
take after = inherit a characteristic: "You take after your aunt. You're both tall and dark."
have got = inherit a characteristic: "You've got your father's nose / your mother's eyes." etc
Here are some useful ways to describe people in English.
tall: "He's quite tall for his age."
short = opposite of tall
slim = not fat or thin: "She's very slim."
overweight (fat): "He's a little overweight."
thin: "He's too thin. He looks unhealthy."
muscular = with muscles: "He's quite muscular after all those weeks in the gym."
skinny = thin: "You need to eat more. You're looking skinny."
well-built = quite big as a person: "He's well-built, in his 40s."
fit = when you do lots of exercise: "She's fit and quite slim."
Some adjectives, like fat or thin, can be a little insulting. Instead, you can say "a little overweight" or "a bit thin".
You can describe someone's hair length, colour and shape:
have long / short / shoulder-length hair
have blond / brown / red / dark hair
have curly / wavy / straight hair
Example: "She has long, brown, curly hair."
Or, "Her hair is long, brown and curly."
Remember: you don't need "and" before the last adjective when it comes before the noun. When the adjectives come after the noun, use "and" before the last adjective.
old: "He's quite old now."
young: "She's a young woman in her 20s."
middle-aged = from about 50 to 65.
an adult (20+)
a teenager (13-18)
a child (2 – 12)
a baby (0 – 2)
in his / her / our / their 20s / 30s / 40s / 50s / 60s etc
"She's a middle-aged woman in her 60's."
"He liked animals when he was a child."
For more words and phrases to describe physical characteristics in English, see our page on Describing people.
Here are some common words and phrases to talk about personality. For a longer list, see our page on words that describe behaviour.
kind vs unkind = if you are nice and help people, or not
friendly vs unfriendly = if you are a person who says hello to someone, or not
happy vs unhappy / sad = if you smile, or if you look sad
clever / intelligent / bright = if you understand things easily
not very bright / not very clever = if you find things difficult to understand
hard-working vs lazy = if you work hard, or not
outgoing / sociable = if you like spending time with other people
quiet = if you don't like noise or lots of people
shy = if it's difficult for you to speak to people
serious = if you enjoy studying and don't like partying
reserved = if you don't make friends quickly
laid-back vs anxious = if you are relaxed about life, or not
funny = if you make other people laugh (funny can also mean "strange)
ambitious vs unambitious = if you want to do well in your career or make lots of money, or not
polite vs impolite / rude = if you have good manners (i.e say "Please" and "Thank you") or not
Be careful with these words!
sensible vs sensitive
A sensible person is careful, and doesn't do stupid things.
A sensitive person feels emotions quickly, and can get sad or upset easily.
A sympathetic person can understand you when you are upset or unhappy.
Describing People Exercise
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