How to Describe a Person in English: Phrases For Appearance

Elly Kimreviewed byNataliia Afonina / more about Editorial Process11 min
Created: Feb 3, 2023Last updated: Jan 21, 2024
How to Describe a Person in English

There are almost eight billion people in the world now, and every person is unique and beautiful. We all have our personal features, and it is important to know how to describe them to other people. So how to describe a person in English? What parts of speech and words should you use to sound polite? This is what we will tell you in this article. Make yourself comfortable, and let’s discuss this exciting topic. 

What are the main ways of describing a person?

For most people, it is easy to describe themselves or introduce themselves to other people. But when it comes to the situations where you need to explain the appearance, character, or actions of another person, especially in English, you feel like you’ve forgotten all the words. But don’t worry, we know how to help you. Here are four common steps for a complete person’s description:

  1. Describing the appearance. It means that you need to tell your interlocutor what the person you describe looks like. In this case, you talk about their height, hair, face, and other features you can see with your eyes. For such a description of a person example you mostly use adjectives. 
  2. Describing the mannerism. Most people do something or speak in a particular way. So if you know someone who has such unique features, you can describe them using different action verbs. 
  3. Describing the character. When you want to discuss someone’s personality, you usually use adjectives that explain their inner features, the ones you can’t see with your eyes. 
  4. Describing the feelings. Sometimes you can’t know how someone is feeling, but you may assume how they appear to be feeling. For example, you can say that your friend looks exhausted when they meet you after the 15-hour work shift. When you describe how the person feels, you can also use adjectives. 

These are four main steps of a description of a person. But before we discuss every step in detail, we want to remind you about one important rule. It doesn’t matter who you are planning to describe – always be polite, and choose the words that you would want to hear about yourself. Otherwise, you can offend someone, and this is not what we (and we hope, you) want. 

What is the difference between positive and negative adjectives in people’s descriptions? 

Like we already said, we mostly use adjectives in most description of a person examples. But there are positive ones that we can use as compliments and negative ones that are usually considered offensive. Here are some examples of both to help you understand the difference better:

  • Positive adjectives: calm, clever, easy-going, broad-minded, enthusiastic, intelligent, efficient, creative, nice, dependable, hardworking, ambitious. 
  • Negative adjectives: nasty, aggressive, cynical, overcritical, bad-tempered, dishonest, intolerant, irresponsible, possessive. 

As you can see, most of these words are examples of describing a person on the inside, not the outside. This is because we believe that everyone is beautiful and that different physical characteristics cannot be negative. But we can’t disagree that there are a lot of people with unpleasant character and behavior. Hence, this is the main difference between positive and negative adjectives – first ones you can use to describe someone who is nice, and second ones may be applied to someone who is not.

How to describe a person: Physical appearance

Learning the ways of describing people in English is really important. And now that you know about different types of adjectives, it’s time to learn a bit more of them. Let’s see what words you can use to describe what someone looks like.

Describing a face

The first thing you see when looking at another person is their face. There are many parts of it – eyes, nose, hair, eyebrows, cheeks, etc. And you can use countless adjectives to describe them all. Here is the list of words you can use to mention every part of someone’s face:

  • Face: round, oval, square, triangle, long, freckled, rosy, puffy.
  • Eyes: hooded, round, almond-shaped, deep/close/wide set. 
  • Eyebrows: shaggy, thin, plucked, arched, soft arch, high arch, thick.
  • Eyelashes: long, short, straight, curled, false. 
  • Nose: humped, pointed, sharp, straight, snub, aquiline, turned up. 
  • Cheeks: hollow, chubby. 
  • Mouth: firm, big, full-lipped, small, lopsided, toothless. 
  • Hair: blonde, brunette, dark, light, curly, straight, redhead, smooth, silky. 

And here is another tip for you on how to describe someone. If you need to explain the appearance of a different person, but don’t remember the details completely, add the -ish ending to the adjectives you want to use. For example, if you are unsure about one’s hair color because it can be both dark blonde and light brown, say that it is brownish. And now, it is time to move to the next describing a person example. 

Describing a body

Another important part of people’s appearances are their bodies. Just like the face, it also has many parts that deserve dozens of adjectives. So, what words can you use to describe one’s figure, stature, legs, arms, etc.? Here are some examples: 

  • Stature: tall, short, skinny, chubby, thin, slim, plump, overweight, curvy, muscular, neat, lean, petite. 
  • Shoulders: broad, delicate, sloping.
  • Legs: shapely, thick, feminine, scrawny, sinewy, athletic, long, sleek, crooked. 
  • Arms: beefy, powerful, muscular, skinny. 

Once again, remember, you need to be really careful when it comes to describing one’s body shape. You can’t just call someone fat and expect them to treat you like their best friend. If it is possible, try to avoid such topics in your description. And if it is not, limit yourself to general phrases.

General characteristics

Sometimes, you don’t want to spend time looking for a good way to describe someone. Like when your mom asks you to tell her about the boy you were on a date with. We bet you want to avoid describing his curly hair or almond-shaped eyes. Here are some words you can use to characterize one’s general appearance. 

  • Beautiful. 

The first word in our list is pretty obvious, but is still one of the most pleasant things you can say about someone. Collins Dictionary defines beautiful as something pleasant to look at and attractive. For example:

X: What do you think about Jane?

Y: I think she is very beautiful. 

  • Good-looking. 

This adjective can describe both physical appearance or someone’s outfit. Its meaning is precisely what you think it is – we use it when discussing someone who looks good. For example:

I met this good-looking British guy yesterday. 

He told his friends that he thinks I’m good-looking! 

  • Attractive. 

When someone is attractive, they obviously attract attention. It is another way to say the person is beautiful. For example:

Mike thinks Kate is attractive. 

I love this actor. He is so attractive. 

  • Ugly. 

Now it’s time to check some negative adjectives. For example, this one is rather offensive when it comes to describing one’s appearance. But, you can still use it when talking about clothes, shoes, etc. This word means something unpleasant and unattractive. For example: 

I can’t believe I’ve spent so much money to get this ugly dress!

Mariah didn’t want to buy ugly shoes for her wedding. 

  • Repulsive. 

This is another word that describes an unattractive appearance. According to Cambridge Dictionary, it means something unpleasant or unacceptable. For example:

I thought that guy was repulsive, and today I saw his arrest. 

My neighbor is very repulsive. 

  • Unsightly. 

This is the last person description example in our list. It is usually used when talking about someone who is very silent, shy, and almost unnoticeable. For example: 

I am a bit afraid of my unsightly classmate.

She was unsightly at school, but now she is a rock star.

Example of person’s description

Before moving forward to the next example of description of a person, let’s consolidate your knowledge. In this case, we want to introduce you to our new (imaginary) friend – Alice. We will describe her for you using the vocabulary from the previous topics, and you have to try to imagine what she looks like. So, who is Alice? 

Firstly, she is really attractive. She has a triangle-shaped freckled face and almond-shaped brown eyes. Alice is a redhead, and her hair is very curly. She has thick plucked eyebrows and long curvy eyelashes. Her nose is sharp and turned up a little, and her lips are full. Alice is short and a bit plump. 

So, we told you about our friend. And now it’s your turn! Tell us about your mom, bestie, boyfriend, or your favorite actor. Describe their appearances as much as you can using the words from the lists below. Or, you can always open your favorite book and look at how the author explains its main character. We will be happy to read your comments and try to imagine a person according to your description! 


How to describe people: Personality

Now that we’ve finished with someone’s appearance, it is time to talk about the inner qualities of the person. As we already said, you can use adjectives to either describe one’s character, or to guess the feelings of someone according to their looks. In both cases, here are the words you can use. 

  • Character: friendly, funny, gentle, generous, courageous, self-confident, shy, silly, sincere, dynamic, imaginative, efficient, talkative, amusing, bright, brave, thoughtful, emotional, supportive, warmhearted, wise, witty, pessimistic, unlucky, introverted, unreliable. 
  • Feelings: happy, tired, exhausted, desperate, sad, upset, annoyed, mad, angry, furious, excited, bored, nervous, stressed, anxious, relaxed, well-rested, sleepy, serene.

The difference between these two personality characteristics is that when we describe one’s character, we say, “They are…,” e.g., “They are really wise.” When talking about feelings, on the other hand, we only make assumptions using the construction “They look…,” e.g., “They look sad.” Here are some more examples of sentences on how to describe a person’s personality:

  • My friend Tara is very generous – she always pays for dinner when we go out. 
  • Do you know what happened to Sam? I saw him a minute ago, and he looked upset. 
  • Kate’s mom is very wise, so Kate always listens to her advice. 
  • I was on a date yesterday, but the guy looked tired all the time, so I was at home till midnight. 
  • Mike likes Anne! He told me that he thinks she is very warm-hearted. 

These are only a few examples to get started. But when you expand your vocabulary and learn new adjectives, it will be much easier for you to describe literally anyone. Of course, there are many more words you can use to talk about one’s appearance. So once again, we will be happy to see which ones you will use in the comments.

Talking about people’s appearance with Promova

If you want to confidently describe someone in English, you need to know numerous adjectives. There are plenty of ways to expand your vocabulary – from reading books to watching TV shows. But if you feel that you need some help, we have a wonderful option for you. Promova is an international language-learning platform that has something to offer students with different needs. We will tell you about some of the platform’s options, and you will easily choose the one that suits you best. So, what can you expect with Promova? 

  • Experience. Our tutors are real professionals, and they know exactly how to help you reach your goals. You can join personal or group lessons and start the classes according to your proficiency level. 
  • Accessibility. Promova accepts students from different countries, so you don’t have to worry about different time zones or language barriers. Pass the quick fluency test, pick a suitable time, and enjoy your studying.
  • Convenience. In addition to the online platform, you can also install a modern application on your smartphone or tablet. Free Promova app gives you access to hundreds of topics. Here you can find every description of a person example you need, and much more.

Of course, these are not all the benefits. You can see more of them seconds after joining the platform. And the best thing is that you can always decide to learn only the things you are genuinely interested in! For example, if your goal is to practice speaking – join our free Conversational club and discuss various topics with people from different countries. Visit the Promova website now, and find out what is the best for you!


To sum it up, we want to tell you that there is no particular order in describing one’s appearance. All you need to do is respect boundaries and be polite – it will help you avoid misunderstandings and not hurt anyone. We hope that our article was useful for you. And, of course, looking forward to reading your descriptions in the comments! 


How to describe a person?

There are four common ways of describing someone. The first one is describing their appearance, or how they look physically. Second option is talking about their mannerisms – manners typical for that person. Two final steps include describing one’s character (their inner features) and feelings (how do they look emotionally, e.g., tired, exhausted, happy, etc.).

What are the main rules for describing a person?

When it comes to describing someone in English, there are not many rules – typically, you just choose the right adjectives and create your description. But we highly recommend that you always stay polite and select words that won’t hurt other people. For example, if you are thinking of finding the softer form of the word to describe someone, consider not using that word at all.

How to describe one’s physical appearance?

If you want to describe someone’s appearance, you need to pick adjectives that suit their look. For example, if you want to talk about one’s face, you can tell about its form (round, oval, square), or features (clear-shaved, wrinkled, freckled, etc.). The same thing with other people’s features – eyes (hooded, round, blue, brown, hazel), hair (long, short, straight, curly, blonde, redhead), etc.

How to describe one’s personality?

In this case, you need to choose adjectives that describe the person’s character. They can be positive and negative. For example, positive adjectives include nice, responsible, hard-working, clever, intelligent, friendly, courageous, confident, charismatic, polite, etc. Negative ones, on the other hand, include nasty, rude, aggressive, weak, cowardly, cynical, dishonest, irresponsible, etc.


PromovaJan 18th, 2024
Positive adjectives are used as compliments and describe positive qualities, while negative adjectives are usually considered offensive and describe unpleasant character traits.
Jackson HussainJan 18th, 2024
What is the difference between positive and negative adjectives in people's descriptions
PromovaJul 25th, 2023
Great question! Using vivid and descriptive language helps paint a clear picture in the listener's mind, making storytelling more engaging and impactful. Describing someone's appearance in detail adds depth to characters in narratives and allows listeners to better connect with the story. By practicing descriptive language, learners can become more effective communicators and captivate their audience.
Connor WestJul 25th, 2023
How can incorporating vivid and descriptive language when describing a person's appearance enhance storytelling and communication skills?