How to describe people in Spanish

How to describe people in Spanish: The physical appearance

In today’s lesson, we will introduce the basic vocabulary and expressions for making physical descriptions in Spanish in a very simple way. You will learn how to describe people in Spanish with a very few verbs and some common adjectives. There are helpful activities at the end of the lesson to practice as well. Ready?

Let’s see some examples of physical descriptions in Spanish first.

How to describe people in Spanish

She is a very pretty girl. She is a brunette with curly hair and black eyes.
This boy is brown, has brown eyes, wears glasses and beard.This girl is blond, she has blue eyes. She wears two braids, she wears a pink T-shirt.

As you can see in the examples, to describe physical appearance of people in Spanish we mainly use three verbs:

SER “to be” in English

TENER “to have” in English

LLEVAR “to wear” in English

Now let’s look at the possible combinations with each of these verbs.

How to describe people in Spanish

The Physical appearance

SER

We use the verb SER, “to be” in English to talk about natural or permanent physical characteristics. The formula is: Tener (conjugated) + adjective.

How to describe people in Spanish
Alto-a / Bajo-aShort / TallDelgado-a / Gordo-aThin / fat
Feo-a / Guapo-aUgly / handsome – PrettyMayor / JovenOld / Young
Calvo-abaldMoreno-adark-haired
dark-skinned
Castaño-abrownRubio-ablond
Pelirrojo-ared-haired

Notice that these adjectives must agree with the person in gender (feminine and masculine) and number (singular or plural).

La chica es guapa / Las chicas son guapas.

El chico es guapo / Los chicos son guapos.

Usually to softer negative adjectives we place before the adjective : ” un poco” = “a bit”.

El chico es un poco feo.

La chica es un poco gorda /gordita.

TENER

To describe the hair, eyes, nose and other parts of the body of people in Spanish, we use the irregular verb Tener. The formula is: Tener (conjugated) + noun + adjective.

How to describe people in Spanish
Pelo rizado Curly hairPelo onduladoWavy hairPelo lisoStraight hair
Pelo cortoShort hairPelo largoLong hairPelo recogidohair up
Pelo sueltohair downPelo morenodark hair
Pelo castañoBrown hair
Pelo rubioblond hairPelo pelirrojo
red hair
Pelo canoso / teñidogrey hair
dyed hair



The word for hair (el pelo) is masculine and singular, so the adjectives to describe hair must agree with the word pelo by also being masculine and singular and not with the person you are describing.

Ella tiene el pelo pelirrojo.

Ojos negrosBlack eyesOjos marronesBrown eyes
Ojos verdesGreen eyesOjos azulesBlue eyes
Nariz grande / pequeñaBig / Small noseUn lunar / Pecasbeauty mark / Freckles

The word for eyes (los ojos) is masculine and plural, so the adjectives to describe eyes must also be masculine and plural.

Ella tiene los ojos verdes

Notice that there are the two different words for brown: “marrón” and “castaño”

Use “marrones” when talking about eye colour and “castaño” when talking about hair colour.

For example:

Mi madre tiene los ojos marrones / My mother has brown eyes.

Yo tengo el pelo castaño / I have brown hair.

LLEVAR

We use the verb “LLEVAR” to talk about physical characteristics that can change according to fashion or to talk about accessories and clothes that we can wear.

How to describe people in Spanish
ColetaponytailTrenzasplaits
PerillagoateeBigotemoustache
BarbabeardPendientesearrings
GafasglassesCollarnecklace
CamisetaT-shirtPantalóntrousers

How to describe people in Spanish: Infographic

How to describe people in Spanish

Practice at your own pace. Download this infographic in PDF.

How to describe people in Spanish.

Let’s practice with interactive activities!

That is all! I hope you’ve learned a lot, and you enjoyed this lesson!

Do you want to improve your Spanish with me? Check out how can I help you here!

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