How to Describe Your Personality in English

Mar 20, 2024 | Advanced Vocabulary, Job Interviews in English

This lesson was originally published in March 2017. It was updated with new content, new vocabulary, and a new video lesson in March 2024.

I’ve got a question for you. Actually, several.

  • What are you like? 
  • What are you into?
  • What’s a perfect weekend for you?
  • How would you describe your work style? 
  • How would you describe your attitude toward life?
  • How would you describe your approach to dealing with others?

 

Each of these questions has one thing in common: a request to better understand YOU, your personality.

👉 In both personal and professional situations, it’s not uncommon to have questions that explore your personality. And that means you’ll need the right vocabulary to describe how you typically think, behave, and feel.

 

If you’ve ever felt unsure how to describe your unique qualities in an English conversation, a job interview, or even on your social media bio, you’re not alone.

Today you’re going to learn dynamic sentence starters, rich personality-focused vocabulary, and real-life examples to help you paint a vivid picture of your character. 

By the end of this video, you’ll not only have the words but also the confidence to say, ‘This is me, and here’s what I’m all about.’ 

Even better?

Everything you learn today can also be used to describe others. For example, if you’re describing your best friend or talking about who your colleagues are at work.

WATCH THE LESSON

How to Describe Your Personality in English

Sentence Starters for Conversations on Your Personality in English

Whether you have to answer “How would you describe yourself?” in an English job interview (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… 
    • I would say that she’s quite open-minded.
  • Some would say I’m/she’s/he’s… but I think that… 
    • Some would say he’s rather strict, but I think that he is focused on being well-organized to ensure clarity in the office.
  • I’m a… 
    • I’m a goal-oriented person.
  • I have a good/great sense of… 
    • With strong listening skills, I have a good sense of what other people really need or want, which helps me in my sales position.
  • I’d describe myself/her/him as… 
    • I’d describe myself as a problem-solver.
  • I guess I’m… 
    • I guess I’m pretty reserved at work.
  • I would like to think that I’m… 
    • I’d like to think that I’m very sociable.

Using Qualifiers When Talking about Personality in English

Qualifiers help us to show the degree to which something is true or how strong it is. They can also be used to soften a statement.

For example, one example sentence starter included:

  • I guess I’m pretty reserved.

We have two qualifiers here:

  1. I guess
  2. Pretty

I guess is used to indicate a lack of certainty. 

And pretty, in this context, isn’t used to describe whether something is beautiful but rather to indicate that someone is fairly or moderately reserved.

Consider a friend of yours who you might describe as ‘quiet.’ Is your friend extremely quiet or a bit quiet? Again, the qualifiers show how strong the adjective is.

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

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

Examples:

  • He’s fairly quiet at work. But he becomes rather talkative out of the office.
  • She’s pretty studious. She’ll definitely do well on her final exams. 
  • I can be a bit moody, especially when I’m hungry. I can even get a bit hangry at times.*

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

Example Stories for Describing Your Personality

Let’s look at 6 examples of how someone might respond to questions that ask about their personality, balancing the positive and negative while adding detail to further explain their word choices.

As we review the examples, start thinking about which words you might use to describe your own personality. I’ll have a practice question for you at the end.

In the stories below, imagine each person has answered the question: How would you describe yourself to someone you just met?

Story One

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) is 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) is 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) is to prosper or be successful. Synonyms include to flourish, to grow, to prosper, to shine, or to succeed.
  • Conversationalist. A conversationalist (noun) is someone who enjoys and/or contributes to a good conversation; someone who is interested in conversations. The opposite is someone who talks too much – in a way that is inappropriate or annoying. A person like this might be described as a bigmouth, windbag, or gossip. Note: these are all very negative and informal ways to describe someone.

Story Two

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 also for my friends and family. I’ll do anything to help them out.

  • Determined. Determined (adjective) means someone who has reached a decision and is resolved to that decision. Synonyms include driven, steadfast, purposeful, persistent, resolved, or 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) means someone focused and motivated by goals; someone who is compelled to reach their goals.
  • Stubborn. Stubborn (adjective) is similar to determined but with a more negative connotation, it assumes someone is inflexible or unwilling to change. Synonyms include rigid, unyielding, obstinate, or headstrong. Antonyms include agreeable, amenable, flexible.
  • Help someone out. To help (someone) out is a phrasal verb that means to do something so another’s task or job is easier.

Story Three

I’d say I’m pretty easygoing 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.

  • Easygoing. Easygoing (adjective) means relaxed and casual. Synonyms include laid-back, easy-go-lucky, low-pressure, or mellow. Antonyms include rigid, strict, high-strung, or uptight.
  • Crack jokes. To crack a joke is a collocation that means to tell a sudden or striking joke
  • Get along. To get along is a phrasal verb that means to be or to remain on friendly terms with someone.
  • Life of the party. To be the life of the party is an idiom. It means a person who is lively; someone who makes events fun; someone who is at the center of attention. Related words include gregarious, social, sociable, or outgoing. The opposite might be a wallflower, which was used in the first story.

Story Four

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) means someone who can be expected to give the same result or a predicted result. Synonyms include dependable, responsible, steady, or trustworthy. Antonyms include uncertain, undependable, unreliable, or untrustworthy.
  • Take care of. To take care of someone or something is a phrasal verb that means to attend to or provide for the needs of someone else or something else.
  • Diligent. Diligent (adjective) means someone who gives steady, focused, energetic effort.
  • An ideas person. An ideas person is a collocation/figure of speech. It means someone who is good at thinking of new and interesting ideas. Related words include innovative, inventive, or a big-picture thinker. The opposite might be someone described as a doer, a detail-oriented person, or a process-oriented person.

Story Five

I’m the kind of person who values collaboration and generosity, especially at work. Rather than compete against my peers, I prefer to pool our shared knowledge so that we succeed as a team. This also leads to a more convivial and more productive work environment.

  • Collaboration. Collaboration (noun) is a situation in which two or more people work together to create or achieve the same thing.
  • Generosity. Generosity (noun) describes someone who has the characteristic of being willing to give money, help, kindness, etc.; often more than is usual or expected.
  • To pool. To pool (verb) means to collect something such as ideas or money in order for it to be used by several different people or a cause.
  • Shared knowledge. Shared knowledge (collocation) is knowledge that is owned, divided, felt, or experienced by more than one person.
  • Convivial. Convivial (adjective) is used to describe an individual or situation that is friendly and makes you feel happy and welcome.

Story Six

I’ve heard others say that I’m rather direct. And I suppose they’re right, although I might prefer to say I’m efficient with problem-solving. I’m not afraid of tough conversations, and I’ll get straight to the point when I need to. That said, I aim for a diplomatic approach to delicate conversations, communicating with respect and consideration.

  • Direct. Direct (adjective) is used to describe someone who says what they think in a very honest way without worrying about other people’s opinions.
  • Efficient. Efficient (adjective) can describe a person, a process, a system, etc., that works or operates quickly and effectively in an organized way.
  • Get straight to the point. To get straight to the point (idiom) means to communicate in a way that reaches the most important or crucial part of something immediately.
  • Diplomatic. Diplomatic (adjective) describes someone who acts or speaks in a way that does not cause offense.
  • Consideration. Consideration (noun) means the act of thinking about something carefully.

If you loved this lesson, be sure to check out 23 Positive Adjectives to Describe Someone in English and Negative Adjectives Used to Describe People in English.

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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