Description of a person in Spanish

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Choosing the verb Ser or Estar

First of all in this post, we are going to see a difference again between Ser/Estar. We will learn how to describe people,  physically and the personality of a person, but in the first place, there are some issues that have to be explained.

In English you would ask:

→ HOW IS YOUR MOM? 

◊ this question refers to a mental/physic state in a temporary idea.

How she is doing, basically.


 Let’s turn it back into Spanish with both Ser/Estar verbs:

¿CÓMO ESTÁ TU MADRE?

HOW      IS    YOUR  MOM?

♦ As you are asking for a temporary state, we have to use the verb ESTAR.


Let’s see the same question with Ser:

¿CÓMO ES TU MADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR MOM?

What does that mean? The translation from English is exactly the same as with ESTAR,  but the verb SER completely changes the meaning. As we well know, SER is a permanent verb. Therefore, we are asking for how she is in a permanent way, which means that basically, we ask for how she looks and how she is in personality terms. 


Let’s see again together:

→ TEMPORARY ESTAR:

¿CÓMO ESTÁ TU MADRE?

HOW      IS    YOUR  MOM?

(how is she doing now)

→ PERMANENT SER:

¿CÓMO ES TU MADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR MOM?

(How does your mom look like)


♣ So basically, whenever we describe a person or a thing, not in a temporary state, we will use SER. As a permanent verb, the description of a thing or a person is something that belongs to it, something permanent that is part of that thing or that person and it will not change.

How a person looks like in Spanish and the gender of the adjective

Once having clear that to describe people or things we will use the verb SER, let’s start the descriptions:

¿CÓMO ES TU MADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR MOM?

Verb permanent SER, so, we are asking for the description physically/mentally of your mom.

MI MADRE ES …

MY MOM     IS …

⇒ TALL, SHORT, NICE…


It is time to see adjectives, first of all, physic adjectives to start describing people.

Remember that adjectives in Spanish have gender (masculine/feminine), so, depending on the person or the thing that we are giving the adjective to, it will be feminine or masculine.

♦ Remember the masculine-feminine rule:

  1. ADJECTIVES THAT ENDS WITH A CONSONANT  WE WILL TURN THEM FEMININE JUST ADDING AN A AT THE END.       

ESPAÑOL ⇒ ADD A ⇒ ESPAÑOLA


  1. ADJECTIVES THAT ENDS WITH A VOWEL, WE WILL TURN THEM FEMININE SWITCHING THE ENDING VOWEL I, O, U into A

CHINO ⇒ SWITCH I, O, U into A ⇒ CHINA


  1.   ADJECTIVES THAT ENDS WITH A VOWEL E. WILL REMAIN THE SAME FOR GIRLS AND BOYS.

ESTADOUNIDENSE ⇒ SAME ⇒ ESTADOUNIDENSE


ENGLISH

MASCULINE

FEMININE

TALL

ALTO

ALTO

SHORT

BAJO

BAJA

FAT

GORDO

GORDA

THING

DELGADO

DELGADA

BEAUTIFUL

BONITO

BONITA

HANDSOME

GUAPO

GUAPA

UGLY

FEO

FEA

YOUNG

JOVEN

JOVEN

OLD

VIEJO

VIEJA

STRONG

FUERTE

FUERTE

SMALL

PEQUEÑO

PEQUEÑA

BIG

GRANDE

GRANDE

♣ Note:

  1. BONITO,  it is not really used. Eventually you can hear that but in communication terms to describe a beautiful man, we will always use GUAPO (Handsome).
  2. GUAPA means beautiful as it is the feminine adjective of handsome.
  3. JOVEN does have the same gender for masculine and feminine, even though it does not finish with the vowel E. We will say that it is an exemption. 
  4. There are so many describing adjectives, but we will start with the ones that we consider more common and easy in Spanish.

Once we have it all explained, we should be able to start describing:

¿CÓMO ES TU MADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR MOM?

  • MI MADRE ES ALTA
  • MY MOM     IS  TALL

◊ Your mom is a woman; therefore the adjective ALTA  will be feminine.


¿CÓMO ES TU PADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR DAD?

  • MI PADRE ES ALTO
  • MY DAD      IS    TALL

◊ Your dad is a man; therefore the adjective ALTO  will be masculine.

physical and personality traits in spanish

Adverbs very, quite and a little bit in Spanish

Once we have seen adjectives already, the description becomes very easy. Also, we can use some adverbs to quantify the adjective. In other words, to give to the adjective a more clear idea of its expression (very, a little bit, quite). Is better we see some examples to clarify the explanation:

Adverbs that quantify an adjective:

VERY

MUY

   

A LITTLE BIT

UN POCO

   

QUITE

BASTANTE


 First remember the last lesson:

¿CÓMO ES TU MADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR MOM?

  • MI MADRE ES ALTA
  • MY MOM     IS  TALL

Let’s use the adverbs in the sentence then:

¿CÓMO ES TU MADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR MOM?

VERY:

  • MI MADRE ES MUY ALTA
  • MY MOM     IS  VERY TALL

QUITE:

  • MI MADRE ES BASTANTE ALTA
  • MY MOM     IS    QUITE       TALL

A LITTLE BIT:

  • MI MADRE ES UN POCO ALTA
  • MY MOM    IS A LITTLE BIT TALL

Describing personality in Spanish

It is time to see personality adjectives in order to keep describing people.

Remember, once again, that adjectives in Spanish have gender (masculine/feminine), so, depending on the person or the thing that we are giving the adjective to, it will be feminine or masculine.

Let’s see few common ones:

ENGLISH

MASCULINE

FEMININE

NICE

AGRADABLE

AGRADABLE

FUNNY

DIVERTIDO

DIVERTIDA

BORING

ABURRIDO

ABURRIDA

MEAN

MALO

MALA

HUMBLE

HUMILDE

HUMILDE

GENTLE

AMABLE

AMABLE

CHEERFUL

ALEGRE

ALEGRE

INTELLIGENT

INTELIGENTE

INTELIGENTE

HARDWORKING

TRABAJADOR

TRABAJADORA

SERIOUS

SERIO

SERIA

SHY

TÍMIDO

TÍMIDA

OUTGOING 

EXTROVERTIDO

EXTROVERTIDA

GOOD

BUENO

BUENA

BAD

MALO

MALA

LAZY

VAGO

VAGA

FRIENDLY

SIMPÁTICO

SIMPÁTICA


♣ Note:

  1. MEAN is a very normal English adjective that we do not use in its meaning much in Spanish. So the translation in its idea would be similar to BAD (MALO/MALA).
  2. BORING used in a temporary idea with estar changes the meaning to BORED. We will see it next when we study the Mental/Physic temporary states.
  3. BAD as we said previously, is gonna be used also as a mean person; A bad person basically, which actually is not completely the same, but, in Spanish terms is closer to the idea.
  4. GOOD on the other hand, it is used to describe good hearted people.

Once we have it all explained, let’s start using those adjectives:

¿CÓMO ES TU MADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR MOM?

  • MI MADRE ES MUY DIVERTIDA
  • MY MOM     IS VERY FUNNY

 

◊ Your mom is a woman; therefore, the adjective DIVERTIDwill be feminine.


¿CÓMO ES TU PADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR DAD?

  • MI PADRE ES TRABAJADOR
  • MY DAD     IS  HARDWORKING

 

◊ Your dad is a man; therefore, the adjective TRABAJADOwill be masculine.

Describing hair using the verb Ser in Spanish

We are going to describe a person’s hair as well, as it is a common thing when describing. There are two ways to go, using the verb SER (To Be permanent)  which is the one we are seeing in this very section and also using the verb TENER (To have).

Let’s see first the adjectives about  hair color:

ENGLISH

MASCULINE

FEMININE

BLOND

RUBIO

RUBIA

BLACK #

NEGRO

NEGRA

BRUNETTE (Dark brown)

MORENO

MORENA

CHESTNUT (Lighter brown)

CASTAÑO

CASTAÑA

WHITE

BLANCO

BLANCA

REDHEAD

PELIRROJO

PELIRROJA

BALD

CALVO

CALVA


♣ Note:

  1. CASTAÑO in English and in Spanish means chestnut, of course, referring to the fruit of the chestnut tree. That light brown that the fruit has, gives the name to the adjective light brown hair in Spanish. It can be used only for describing hair or of course referring to the fruit using it as a noun.
  2. MORENO means brunette and it can be used to describe a person with dark brown hair or  somebody with tanned skin as well.
  3. PELIRROJO means redhead in English.  Ginger can also be used in English terms in a mean way, but we do not use PELIRROJO in those terms.
  4. NEGRO does not apply for hair description with verb Ser.  The description when using Mi madre es negra goes to the skin color. Basically, “ My mom is black ” refers to skin’s color as in English does, so, we will have to use the verb To Have to describe a black hair’s color. We will see it in the following post.

Once we have the Adjectives we are ready to describe hair with verb SER:

¿CÓMO ES TU MADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR MOM?

  • MI MADRE ES MORENA
  • MY MOM     IS BRUNETTE

 

◊ Your mom is a woman; therefore, the adjective MORENA  will be feminine.


¿CÓMO ES TU PADRE?

HOW      IS YOUR DAD?

  • MI PADRE ES CALVO
  • MY DAD     IS BALD

 

◊ Your dad is a man; therefore, the adjective CALVO  will be masculine.

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