When you want to know what someone looks you, you are going to ask for a description. Descriptions can be very simple (he’s ugly) or very descriptive and detailed. (She’s 5 feet 4 inches tall, with straight flaming red shoulder length hair, sparkling dark green eyes, a dazzling pearly white smile, with a cute dimple on her left cheek, and lightly tanned facial skin as smooth as a baby’s behind, with the body like Marilynn Monroe).

When asking for descriptions there are a number of expressions that can be used. Look at the examples.

English Expressions

Expression Response
What does ( … she) look like? She looks like a model.
What color is ( … her) hair? It’s black?
What kind of hair style does ( … he) have? He has short curly hair.
What color are (his) eyes? They’re blue.
How tall is (she)? She is five feet, four inches tall.
How much do ( … you) weight? I weight 75 kilos.It’s none of your business.
Does (… he) have any distinguishing  characteristics? He has a scar on his left cheek.
How old is ( …your mother)? She’s 45 years old.
Does (… the professor) wear glasses? No, but he wears contacts.
What is (… she) wearing? She is wearing a red T-shirt, tight bluejeans, and sandals.

 

Below are adjectives that can be used when describing people’s physical characteristics.

     Hair: long, short, straight, curly, permed, ponytail, bangs, crew cut, shoulder

length, bald, receding hairline, salt and pepper, blond, gray, bald, wavy


Body build:
skinny, thin, slender, average weight, muscular, fat, chubby,

plump, over weight, obese, beer belly, average build, stocky,

medium height, tall, short

Facial features: mustache, beard, side burns, pimples, dimples, round eyes,

square chin, big nose, wears glasses, round face, mole

 

When giving descriptions, it is also sometimes useful to talk about what the person is wearing. There are many words that can be used to describe and identify apparel. Looks at these examples.

 

Types of Clothing
Tops Under Garments Women’s Wear Outer Wear
casual shirt underwear (men) skirt jacket
dress shirt briefs (men) dress coat
tee-shirt panties (women) pant suit wind breaker
sweat shirt bra (women) blouse sweater
top stocking (women) v-necks
nylons (women) turtle necks
socks (women) pull-over
Bottoms Accessories Clothing Material
jeans hat/cap wool
pants tie polyester
trousers belt cotton
shorts scarf denim
cut offs gloves plastic
glasses leather
jewelry silk

 

Descriptions of people are not limited to physical descriptions but also to their character and personality. There are a number of expressions that can be used when asking about some ones personality or character.

English Expressions

Expression Response
What’s (… your room mate) like? She’s very friendly, but shy.
What kind of ( … boss) do you have? He’s very intelligent, but very demanding andsomewhat of a perfectionists.
What kind of personality do ( … you look forin a spouse)? Someone who is assertive, but not aggressive;outgoing, but not dominating; confident, but not

insecure.

How’s (… your co-worker), personality wise? She’s fairly helpful and considerate, but extremelyopinionated.

 

There are also countless words that can be used to describe a persons personality and character. Look at some of them below.

 

shy  outgoing  demanding   easy going    
confident insecure   pushy    laid back
domineering   meek intelligent stupid
attentive   neglectful concerned carefree
passionate   indifferent  hot blooded  mellow
strict   lenient tolerant intolerant

   

 

Very often, when describing someone, compliments may be paid.  Every one likes to hear compliments. Compliments make people feel good about themselves, and we all need that at times. Compliments can be made about how a person looks, about their dress, about a skill or ability, or about a behavior. There are a number of expression that can be used to compliment someone. Look at the examples below.

 

Expression Response
What a beautiful (… new dress). Thanks, ( … I’m glad you like it).
You look absolutely ( … gorgeous). How kind of you to say so.
Your daughter can (… certainly play the violinwith best of them). Thank you, ( … I’m glad you appreciate her talent).
Nice (…  tie). Is it new? Yes, (… it was a birthday present from my wife.She has great taste).
Your (... presentation was superb. The entireaudience was spell bound). Thanks, I appreciate that, (… but I was so nervous).

English Dialogue

Students should work together in pairs and read the following dialogue, one student reading one part, the other student reading the other. Note the expressions used in the dialogue and the progression of the conversation. The dialogue can be used as a model to have similar conversations.

 

Matt: What does your girl friend look like?

John: She’s very beautiful, with dark brown eyes and flaming red hair.

Matt: How long is her hair?

John: Her hair is very long, it goes down to the middle of her back.

Matt: How tall is she?

John: She’s my height: five feet, four inches.

Matt: And is she slim, plump, average weight, obese?

John: She’s slim, like a model. And she has a great figure.

Matt: And she’s in her early twenty’s, right?

John: Yes, she’s the same age as me.

Matt: What kind of clothes does she usually wear?

John: She almost always wears blue jeans and T-shirts to school. Usually the T-shirts are blue, that’s her

           favorite color.

Matt: Does she wear glasses?

John: Yes, sometimes she wears small gold rimmed glasses, but usually she wears contacts. Why all

           the questions about my girl friend?

Matt: Just curious. Besides, I think that’s her over there across the street.

John: Where? I don’t see her.

Matt: Under that big tree. Isn’t she the one kissing the sailor?

John: What! Gloria!

 

After reading, close your book and tell your partner a summary of the dialogue. Then switch and have your partner tell his or her summary. Start like this: This dialogue is a person describing his girlfriend. She has… This may seem silly, since you both already know what the dialogue is about, but the purpose is to practice using your English, not to give information or test your reading skills.

Conversation Activities

1. Pair Work- discussion

     Describe people (family, friends, classmates, teachers, well know personalities in your country) you

      know to you partner. Include in your description the persons:

  • height and weight                         
  • eye and hair color     
  • hair style                             
  • approximate age
  • any distinguishing features 
  • type of clothes they normally wear

 

2. Pair Work- discussion

     Give compliments to your partner about the following. Your partner should respond appropriately, but

     with humility.

  • A new dress or shirt               
  • Their violin performance at a concert
  • A new hair cut                         
  • A nose job
  • An oral presentation in front of the class

 

3. Pair Work-discussion         

     One partner selects a prominent personality in your country or the world, without naming him or her to

      his partner. The person may be a TV or movie star, sports figure, politician, corporate head, renowned

      academician, etc. Describe the person until your partner can guess who is being described. You may

      tell what kind of job the person has, the style of clothes they usually wear (if known), and what they are

      well know for. 

                    

Example statements include: This person is very tall, but kind of thin. This person has long black

hair and  ……  This person is an entertainer and is well known for his role in the movie….