How to Describe Your Personality – in English

by | Everyday English and Conversation | 16 comments

I LOVE talking about personalities! It’s so fun to understand people, how they work, and what makes them unique.

And today the focus is you! What makes you you?

Whether you use English professionally or for your daily life, knowing how to describe a personality or talk about traits* is essential.

For example, did you know it’s common to hear this question at a job interview in English: How would you describe yourself?

Do you know how you would answer that question? This question is looking for information about your personality, how you work, what it might be like for others to work with you, and your common behaviors or responses.

Or what if you and I were just chatting and I asked, “So, tell me, what are your colleagues like?”

Again, what would you say? I’m looking for information about your colleagues – who they are, what their like… their personalities.

So let’s find out how YOU would answer those questions and make sure you’re prepared for your next English conversation on this topic.

(Note: This topic is an enormous in English. This is the first lesson in a series on how to talk about personality traits (the good and bad) plus personal characteristics. Be sure to watch for the next lesson on this topic.)

*trait (noun): a quality or characteristic that makes one person or thing different from another

The Language You Need to Talk about Your Personality in English

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Sentence Starters for Conversations on Personality

Whether you have to answer “How would you describe yourself?” in a job interview in English (yes! It’s a common question) or you’re simply chatting with friends, here are common ways to start a sentence when talking about personality traits or characteristics.

  • I would say that I’m/she’s/he’s… (Example: I would say that she’s quite open-minded.)
  • Some would say I’m/she’s/he’s… but I think that… (Example: Some would say he’s rather strict but I think he just wants to be in control and it keeps everyone organized.) 
  • I’m a… (Example: I’m a goal-oriented person.)
  • I have … (Example: I have a great sense for what other people really need or want, which helps me in my sales position.)
  • I’d describe myself/her/him as … (Example: I’d describe myself has a problem-solver.) 
  • I guess I’m… (Example: I guess I’m pretty reserved at work.)
  • I would like to think that I’m… (Example: I’d like to think that I’m very sociable.) 

Using Qualifiers in English

Qualifiers help us to show the degree to which something is true or how strong it is; it increases or decreases the quality of the word it’s modifying.

A qualifier always comes before an adjective or adverb. Here are some examples when talking about personality traits:

  • very
  • quite
  • rather
  • somewhat
  • so
  • just
  • fairly
  • really
  • pretty
  • a bit
  • a little
  • a (whole) lot
  • kind of
  • sort of

Examples:

He’s fairly quiet at work. 

She’s pretty studious. She’ll definitely do well on her final exams. 

I’m sort of moody, especially when I’m hungry. To be honest, I can get a bit hangry.*

*hangry (adjective) – a slang word used to describe someone who is so hungry that they become angry or irritable.

Vocabulary for Describing Personality in English

Review the four stories below to learn real-life English vocabulary, expressions, and phrasal verbs used by native speakers to describes one’s personality. 

Each person has answered the question: How would you describe yourself to someone you just met?

I guess the most important or the most obvious thing about me is I’m a bit of an introvert. I mean, I’m always the wallflower. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like being around people. I actually love it. I thrive on deep conversations where I feel a strong connection with someone. And I’d like to think I’m a good listener and a good conversationalist. Maybe it’s because I don’t like to talk about myself so I’m always asking others questions about themselves.

introvert

an introvert (noun): a person who doesn’t find it easy to talk to others or someone who needs time alone to re-energize; someone who is often viewed as shy or reserved.

The opposite would be an extrovert. An extrovert is easily social and gets energy from spending time with other people.

wallflower

a wallflower (noun): a person who is shy; someone who often sits or stands away from the center of attention at a party; someone who is solitary

thrive

to thrive (verb): to prosper or be successful

synonyms: to flourish, to grow, to prosper, to shine, to succeed

conversationalist

a conversationalist (noun): someone who enjoys and/or contributes to a good conversation; someone who is interesting in conversations

Someone who talks too much – in a way that is inappropriate or annoying – might be described as a: bigmouth, windbag, gossip. Note: these are all very negative and informal ways to describe someone.

Oh, that’s easy. I’m super loyal, determined, and goal-driven. I’ll do almost anything to get what I want. I suppose a lot of people would say I’m stubborn, but I prefer to see the positive – I’ll always find a way or a solution. That’s not only true for me but for my friends and family as well. I’ll do anything to help them out.

 

determined

determined (adjective): someone who has reached a decision and is resolved to that decision

Synonyms include: driven, steadfast, purposeful, persistent, resolved, stubborn*

*Note: stubborn has a slightly negative feeling to it and assumes someone is inflexible

goal-driven

goal-driven or, more often, goal-oriented (adjective): someone focused and motivated by goals; someone who is compelled to reach their goals

stubborn

stubborn (adjective): similar to determined but with a more negative connotation, it assumes someone is inflexible or unwilling to change

Synonyms: rigid, unyielding, obstinate, headstrong

Antonyms: agreeable, amenable, flexible

to help (someone) out

to help (someone) out (phrasal verb): to do something so another’s task or job is easier

I’d say I’m pretty easy-going and social. I love to crack jokes, to make people laugh. At work I’m the guy that gets along with everyone. And I feel good knowing other people are comfortable around me. The downside of being that guy – the life of the party guy – is that people think I can’t be serious. I’m afraid my boss might think that actually. But when I need to, I can be very focused.

 

easy-going

easy-going (adjective): relaxed and casual

Synonyms: laid-back, easy-go-lucky, low-pressure, mellow

Antonyms: rigid, strict, high-strung, uptight

to crack jokes

to crack a joke (collocation): to tell a sudden or striking joke

to get along (with someone)

to get along (phrasal verb): to be or remain on friendly terms (with someone)

(to be the ) life of the party

(to be the) life of the party (idiom): a person who is lively; someone who makes events fun; someone who is at the center of attention

Related words: gregarious, social, sociable, outgoing

The opposite might be a wallflower, which was used in the first story.

I think others would say I’m very reliable, which I like. I do like to take care of problems and help others. And I’d also say I’m hardworking and diligent. I feel great when I complete a project at work and I know I’ve done it well. Sometimes I wish I were more of an ideas person but I guess I’m the person who will get things done.

 

reliable

reliable (adjective): someone who can be expected to give the same result or a predicted result

Synonyms: dependable, responsible, steady, trustworthy

Antonyms: uncertain, undependable, unreliable, untrustworthy

to take care of

to take care of someone or something (phrasal verb): to attend to or provide for the needs of someone else or something else

 

diligent

diligent (adjective): someone who gives steady, focused, energetic effort

an ideas person

an idea person (collocation/figure of speech): someone who is good at thinking of new and interesting ideas

Related words: innovative, inventive, a big-picture thinker

The opposite might be someone described as a doer, a detail-oriented person, or a process-oriented person

It’s Your Turn to Practice

Now it’s your turn to try using some of this new vocabulary!

Be sure to review the meaning of anything that’s new to you and learn the associated synonyms, antonyms, or related words to provide greater variety. 

For your challenge question, I’d love for you to answer: How would you describe yourself to someone you’ve just met?

Or, if you’re not comfortable describing yourself, then describe a friend or colleague (without names). 

Share your answers in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you and have a fantastic Wednesday.

~ Annemarie

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