A2 Basic UK 547 Folder Collection
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Hi, I'm Martin.
Welcome to Oxford Online English!
In this lesson, you can learn how to describe
a person who you know in English.

Think about someone you know well.
It could be someone in your family, a close
friend, someone you work with, or someone

else.
How would you describe this person?
What does this person look like?
What kind of personality does this person
have?

Describing a person is useful in many situations,
including speaking exams like the IELTS speaking

test or the FCE speaking exam.
In this lesson, you'll learn how to describe
a person in detail using clear, natural English.

During this lesson, you're going to practice,
so you need to think of someone you're going

to describe.
It can be anyone you know well.
Got someone?
Great!
Let's begin.
Part one: describing appearance.
First question: what does he or she look like?
What can you say when describing a person's
appearance?

You can talk about the person's height and
build:

"My brother is tall and well-built."
"My friend Lia is medium height and slim."
"Craig, who I work with, is short and overweight."
Do you know what 'well-built' means?
Someone who is well-built is broad and strong,
with big muscles.

You can also add adverbs to make your sentences
more precise:

"My brother is quite tall and well-built."
"My friend Lia is medium height and really
slim."

"Craig, who I work with, is short and a little
overweight."

Then, maybe add something about the person's
hair:

"He has short, brown hair, but he's going
bald fast."

"She has long, dark blonde hair."
"He has curly, fair hair."
What does 'fair' mean here?
It's the opposite of 'dark', and you can
use it to describe someone's hair or skin.

Finally, what else can you say about the person's
appearance?

Imagine you're describing the person to
me, and you want me to be able to recognise

this person from your description.
What could you say?
There are many possibilities, of course, but
here are a few suggestions:

"He looks a bit like a younger version of
Vin Diesel."

"She's really beautiful, with very striking
features."

"He has a long scar on his right elbow."
Do you know what 'striking features' means?
In this context, 'features' refers to someone's
face.

'Striking' means that you can't help noticing
something.

So if someone has 'striking features', it
means he or she has a very unusual and attractive

face.
What about 'scar'?
Scars are left over when you get a deep cut
or have an operation.

Okay, so now you should be able to make three
sentences about the person you're describing,

like this:
"My brother is quite tall and well-built.
He has short, brown hair, but he's going
bald fast.

He looks a bit like a younger version of Vin
Diesel."

Your turn: pause the video and make three
sentences about the person you're describing.

Remember: height/build, then hair, then general
appearance.

Could you do this?
If so, great job—we've only done one part,
and you've already got the start of a good

description.
But of course, there's more we can add.
Part two: describing positive characteristics.
Another question: what's this person like?
Do you know what this question means?
It means I want you to tell me about the person's
personality.

Let's start with positive words you can
use to talk about someone's character.

Think about the person you're describing.
What good things can you say about him or
her?

You could describe someone as 'kind', but
it's better to be more specific if you can.

Better words to use are 'considerate'—meaning
someone who always thinks about other people

and their needs—or 'warm'—meaning someone
who shows positive feelings to others and

makes other people feel good.
Or, maybe this person is good at making other
people laugh.

You could say they are 'funny' or that they
have a 'good sense of humour'.

More generally, you can describe someone as
'fun' or 'entertaining' if people enjoy spending

time with them.
What else?
Well, for a friend, it's very important
that a person is 'reliable'—that you can

depend on them to keep their promises and
be there for you when you need them.

Similarly, you could describe people as 'honest'
or 'straightforward'.

If someone is straightforward, they're honest,
easy to understand and easy to spend time

with.
Straightforward people say what they think,
but not in a rude way, and they don't keep

secrets or gossip about other people.
Let's look at three more.
Most of us like spending time with people
who are 'cheerful'—people who smile a lot

and are usually in a good mood.
Cheerful people are often 'positive' and 'optimistic'—they
expect good things to happen.

So now you have twelve positive adjectives
you can use to describe someone's personality.

Can you use any of these adjectives to talk
about the person you're describing?

When you use these adjectives, always try
to add an example or a reason.

For example, don't just say:
"My brother is really funny."
"My friend Lia is a very cheerful person."
Add some details or examples to make your
answer more interesting, like this:

"My brother's really funny.
He likes making weird jokes, generally at
the most inappropriate moment."

"My friend Lia is a very cheerful person.
Even early in the morning, she's always
smiling and in a good mood.

I don't know how she does it!"
If possible, you could even add a story to
really illustrate the person's character.

"Craig, who I work with, is such an honest
guy.

I remember one time he found a wallet with
£500 in a pub.

It would have been easy to keep the money—there
was nothing in the wallet to say whose it

was, but he said it wouldn't be right to
keep it, and he insisted on going straight

to the police, right that minute."
Adding stories like this can really bring
a description to life.

You've also seen some good ways to use these
adjectives:

"My brother is really _______."
"My friend Lia is a very ________ ."
"Craig is such an _______ guy."

Of course, you can change these and use them
in your answer.

What about you?
Pause the video, and try to use some of these
adjectives about the person you're describing.

Don't forget to add details and examples
to your description, or you can even add a

story if possible!
Next, let's look at part three: describing
negative characteristics.

No one's perfect, right?
We all have our flaws, so let's look at
how to describe the bad side of someone's

personality.
Many of the words you saw in part two have
direct opposites which you can use.

For example:
'kind' → 'unkind'
'considerate' → 'inconsiderate'

'honest' → 'dishonest'
'reliable' → 'unreliable'

Of course, there are other words you can use,
too.

Some people can be 'selfish' or 'self-centered'—they
think about themselves too much, and don't

think about the needs of others.
These two words have a similar meaning.
Even more extreme, you can describe someone
as 'self-obsessed'.

A self-obsessed person only thinks about themselves,
and doesn't seem to realise that other people

exist at all!
Not everyone can be funny, but you don't
want to be seen as 'humourless' or 'dull'.

'Dull' is similar to 'boring', while 'humourless'
means that someone has no sense of humour

and is too serious.
If someone doesn't do what they say or doesn't
keep their promises, you've already seen

two words you can use: 'dishonest' or 'unreliable'.
Similarly, you could describe someone as 'insincere'—meaning
that someone says things without meaning them.

For example, if someone is always friendly
on the surface, but they don't really feel

anything inside, you could describe that person
as insincere.

Their friendliness doesn't mean anything.
Finally, cheerful people are always in a good
mood, but what's the opposite?

You could describe someone as 'moody' or 'grumpy'.
Moody people's moods change very easily,
and they are often in a bad mood.

Grumpy people never seem to be in a good mood
and are always unhappy and negative.

So now, you have twelve negative adjectives
to go with your twelve positive adjectives!

As before, when you use these adjectives to
describe someone, try to add details or examples.

For example:
"My brother can be a little unreliable sometimes.
He often 'forgets' to do things he promised
he would."

"Lia's great, but sometimes I feel she's
a bit insincere.

She says all these nice things, but I'm
not sure she really means them."

"My colleague Craig is so moody.
He'll be fine one minute, then suddenly
he starts acting like he hates everyone.

It makes him quite difficult to be around."
You can see how we often use slightly more
indirect language to talk about someone's

negative characteristics:
"My brother can be a little _______ sometimes."
"Sometimes I feel that she's a bit ________."
Of course, if you really want to be direct,
you can be:

"My colleague is so ________."
Now, pause the video and try to use these
words and phrases.

Make 2-3 sentences, and don't forget to
add examples and details!

Part four: talking about your relationship.
Finally, let's add some details about how
you know this person and your relationship.

Look at three sentences:
"We've known each other ________."
"We met ________."
"We get on _______, because ________."
Do you know what 'get on' means here?
By itself, it means to have a good relationship
with someone.

You can add adverbs after 'get on' to give
it different meanings.

For example:
"We get on very well."
"We get on well sometimes."
Or you can make it negative:
"We don't get on very well."
Okay, look at the sentences again:
"We've known each other ________."
"We met ________."
"We get on _______, because ________."
How could you complete them?
You could say:
"We've known each other for about ten years."
"We met at university."
"We get on really well, because we have a
similar sense of humour."

Of course, there are many possibilities:
"We've known each other almost our whole
lives."

"We met when we were babies, before we could
even walk!"

"We get on well most of the time, although
we argue sometimes, too."

Depending on who you're talking about, it
might not make sense to use all of these sentences.

For example, if you're talking about your
brother or another relative, it doesn't

make sense to talk about how long you've
known each other or where you met.

However, you can still talk about how well
you get on and why.

You could also add how often you see each
other, or what you like to do together.

"I don't see my brother often, though we
talk a couple of times a month.

When we meet up, we like watching films or
playing cards."

Either way, try to make three sentences about
the person you're describing, like this:

"I've known my friend Lia for about five
years.

We met because we worked in the same place
for a few months.

We get on really well, because we have a lot
in common: we like the same films, the same

music, and so on."
"I've known Craig since July.
We actually met at a mutual friend's birthday
party, and then we realised we work in the

same place.
We get on alright but we aren't close.
We're just different people and we don't
seem to have much to talk about."

Now you try!
Pause the video and make three sentences about
your relationship with the person you're

talking about.
Use the words and phrases from this section.
Alright?
Now, we have one more thing to do:
Part five: making a longer answer.
In this lesson, you've learned how to describe
a person by:

talking about their appearance; talking about
the positive and negative sides of their personality;

talking about your relationship and how you
know each other.

Now, let's put everything we've done together
into a longer answer.

Here's one:
"My brother is quite tall and well-built.
He has short, brown hair, but he's going
bald fast.

He looks a bit like a younger version of Vin
Diesel.

He's really funny.
He likes making weird jokes, generally at
the most inappropriate moment.

However, he can be a little unreliable sometimes.
He often 'forgets' to do things he promised
he would.

I don't see him often, though we talk a
couple of times a month.

When we meet up, we like watching films or
playing cards."

This answer uses examples you've already
seen.

Let's do one more longer answer with original
examples:

"I'm going to tell you about a friend of
mine, Sarah.

She's quite short and very slim, with light
brown hair.

She's very pretty and she has a really nice
smile.

Sarah's cheerful and fun to be around, and
she's also very straightforward: you know

who she is right away and it's easy to feel
comfortable around her.

I've known her for about twelve years now,
since university.

We get on well because we have a similar attitude
to life and we always have lots to talk about."

Okay, now it's your turn!
Make a longer answer to describe someone you
know.

Use the examples and language from this lesson
to help you.

If you want, you can post your answer in the
video comments and we'll give you feedback.

That's the end of the lesson.
I hope it was useful for you!
Don't forget to check out more of our free
English lessons on our website: Oxford Online

English dot com.
See you next time!
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How to Describe a Person in English - Spoken English Lesson

547 Folder Collection
ben published on July 27, 2018
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