When learning a new language, describing yourself or somebody else is crucial.
You might think this is difficult. However, we can make it simple!
You just have to remember some tips and follow some steps…
To begin with, the verbs that we’re usually going to use in descriptions of people are: “ser”, “estar”, “tener” and “parecer”. If we want to talk in terms of personality, we can also use the verb “gustar” (to like), which works peculiarly in Spanish. Don’t worry, though! We’ll go through all that together!
Let’s start by describing someone in terms of physical appearance:
The verbs we’re mostly going to use in this case are “ser” and “tener”.
We are going to use “ser” plus and adjective. For instance…
SER + …
- Alto/a = tall
- Bajo/a = short
- Grande = big
- Chico/a = small
- Gordo/a = fat
- Flaco/a = thin
- Lindo/a = pretty
- Feo/a = ugly
- Rubio/a = blond
- Castaño/a = brunette
- Pelirrojo/a = redhaired
- Moreno/a = dark
- Pálido = pale
- Fuerte = strong
- Débil = weak
- Joven = young
- Viejo/a = old
- Narizón = big nose
- Pecoso = freckled
- Elegante = fancy
- Desprolijo = sloppy
Tip: don’t forget that, in Spanish, adjectives must match the noun in gender and number!
For example, La chica es alta (The girl is tall) / El chico es alto (The boy is tall) / Los chicos son altos (The boys are tall) / Las chicas son altas (The girls are tall).
We can also use the verb “tener”, which is going to be followed sometimes by an article (el, la, los, las, un, una, unos, unas), a noun and an adjective for the noun!
TENER + (ARTICLE) + NOUN + ADJECTIVE
TENER + …
1) Los ojos… (Eyes)
- oscuros = dark
- claros = light
- marrones = brown
- azules = blue
- verdes = green
- grises = grey
- grandes = big
- pequeños = small
- redondos = round
- almendrados = almond
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2) El pelo… (Hair)
- castaño = brown
- negro = black
- rubio = blond
- pelirrojo = red
- largo = long
- corto = short
- rizado = curly
- lacio = straight
- blanco = white
Basically, we can add any part of the face or body to the verb “tener” and then use and adjective to qualify it!
- Juan tiene el pelo negro = Juan has black hair = Juan’s hair is black.
- Juan tiene la nariz grande = Juan has a big nose = Juan’s nose is big.
- Juan tiene la piel pálida = Juan has pale skin = Juan’s skin is pale.
- Juan tiene los ojos pequeños = Juan has small eyes = Juan’s eyes are small.
Remember, the adjective MUST match the noun in both gender and number!
What about someone’s personality?
Now, we can also use the verb “ser” plus an adjective to describe someone’s personality:
SER + …
- trabajador/a = hard-working
- vago/a = lazy
- callado/a = quiet
- hablador/a = talkative
- generoso/a = generous
- egoísta = selfish
- paciente = pacient
- impaciente = impacient
- extrovertido/a = extroverted
- introvertido/a = introverted
- tímido/a = shy
- abierto/a = open-minded
- cerrado/a = closed-minded
- simpático/a = nice, friendly
- antipático/a = unfriendly
- serio/a = serious
- alegre = joyful
- culto/a = well-read
- inteligente = smart
- honesto/a = honest
However, we can also use the verb “gustar” (to like). Now, this verb is special in Spanish. Many students believe it should be obviously conjugated as the rest of the verbs, and therefore do this:
“Juan gusta el helado” = Juan likes ice-cream (WRONG!).
The correct way should be…
A Juan le gusta el helado = Juan likes ice-cream (Correct!).
Now, the general structure for this verb is:
A + SUBJECT + (me/te/le/nos/les) + the thing they like
A Juan le gusta leer = Juan likes reading.
A Juan le gustan las ciudades grandes = Juan likes big cities.
Next, let’s try to describe ourselves using this vocabulary. Remember, whether you are male, female or non binary, this must be reflected in the adjectives!
Let’s read Verónica’s description of herself:
Soy baja, pálida y linda. Tengo el pelo negro y largo y los ojos verdes. Me gusta tocar el arpa y también me gustan mucho los gatos, pero no me gusta comer carne.
I’m short, pale and pretty. I have black hair and green eyes. I like playing the harp and I also like cats very much, but I don’t like eating meat.
Now let’s read Verónica’s description of her friend Fernando:
Fernando es alto, rubio y pecoso. Tiene anteojos y ojos marrones. Es muy inteligente, honesto y generoso. Le gustan los días de verano y el rock and roll.
Fernando is tall, blond and freckled. He wears glasses and has brown eyes. He’s very smart, honest and generous. He likes summer days and rock and roll.
So now you know how to describe a person in Spanish, including yourself!