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.
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
We use the verb SER, “to be” in English to talk about natural or permanent physical characteristics. The formula is: Tener (conjugated) + adjective.
|Alto-a / Bajo-a||Short / Tall||Delgado-a / Gordo-a||Thin / fat|
|Feo-a / Guapo-a||Ugly / handsome – Pretty||Mayor / Joven||Old / Young|
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.
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.
|Pelo rizado||Curly hair||Pelo ondulado||Wavy hair||Pelo liso||Straight hair|
|Pelo corto||Short hair||Pelo largo||Long hair||Pelo recogido||hair up|
|Pelo suelto||hair down||Pelo moreno||dark hair||Pelo castaño||Brown hair|
|Pelo rubio||blond hair||Pelo pelirrojo|
|Pelo canoso / teñido||grey 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 negros||Black eyes||Ojos marrones||Brown eyes|
|Ojos verdes||Green eyes||Ojos azules||Blue eyes|
|Nariz grande / pequeña||Big / Small nose||Un lunar / Pecas||beauty 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.
Mi madre tiene los ojos marrones / My mother has brown eyes.
Yo tengo el pelo castaño / I have brown hair.
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.
Let’s practice with interactive activities!
Practice at your own pace…
How to describe people in Spanish
Download this infographic (PDF document)
That is all! I hope you’ve learned a lot, and you enjoyed this lesson!
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