These personality idioms words and phrases are to help you describe people and their characters in speaking. You’ll find there is a mix of more common adjectives, some idioms and more descriptive phrases. This is because when we describe someone we don’t normally just use a few adjectives we also describe how they behave.
Someone you admire
a role model – someone you want to be like
someone to look up to – someone you admire
be an inspiration (to) – be the sort of person other people want to be like
a natural leader – someone who other people will follow
lead by example – set a good example for others to follow
She’s always been my role model and someone I’ve looked up to. I think it’s her ability to inspire people that I admire most as she’s a natural leader. Although in fact she’s fairly quiet and doesn’t say much but just leads by example.
Someone who is funny
have a good/keen sense of humour – to know when something is funny
be witty – be clever and funny
be able to make people laugh/smile –
be able to laugh at yourself (and not just others)
be a great storyteller/raconteur
(like) to see the funny side – will laugh even when the situation is serious/bad
Amy has a really good sense of humour – she’s not just a great storyteller, she’s also able to laugh at herself and make other people see the funny side of serious situations. Lots of times she manages to break the tension by making people smile at what’s going on.
Someone who is clever
smart cookie (I) – an idiom for someone who is clever
sharp – another clever idiom – able to see the main point
a straight A student – someone who did well at school
always one step ahead – an idiom for someone who is clever in a more practical way
able to see the big picture – someone who understands the complete situation and doesn’t get confused by details
My brother’s definitely a smart cookie – one of the most intelligent people I know. He wasn’t in fact a straight A student at school but he’s really sharp and always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else. Most people I know get confused and but he’s always able to see the big picture and he invariably makes the right choices.
Someone who is caring/tolerant
open-minded/tolerant – willing to accept other people’s beliefs
always sees both sides of the argument – someone who will look at other points of view
laid back/easy-going – someone who doesn’t get easily upset and likes to get on with other people – sometimes a less positive characteristic
be helpful – nothing is ever too much trouble – someone who will do things to help even if it is not convenient
considerate – think about the needs of other people
generous to a fault – be extremely generous
One of Peter’s best qualities is that he’s so open-minded – he deals with everyone equally no matter what their background and he’ll sit and listen to their problems. His door is always open and nothing is ever too much trouble for him and he’s forever helping someone out with something.
Someone who is friendly/optimistic
sociable – outgoing
get on well with people – be good at relationships
life and soul of the party – the sort of person who is lively at parties
good company – someone who other people enjoy being around
has a wide circle of friends – has a lot of friends
likes to be the centre of attention – can be a more negative comment for someone who is self-centred
always sees the bright side – an optimist
Andrea is quite different from me – perhaps that’s why we get on so well. While I’m quite quiet she’s really outgoing and the life and the soul of the party. She’s great company and people just love to be around her and she has a really wide circle of friends. Her best quality is that she’s so positive and always looks on the bright side of things.
Someone who is quiet
a wall flower – an idiom for someone who doesn’t participate in parties much – generally a negative phrase
keep yourself to yourself – to prefer to be alone
be a private person – not to go out much
not much of a social butterfly – a social butterfly is someone who enjoys parties and going out – perhaps too much
have a small circle of friends – have fewer friends
I wouldn’t say that she’s a wallflower exactly but she does like to keep herself to herself and isn’t much of a social butterfly. You rarely see her at parties and I think she’s just a fairly private person who prefers to have a smallish circle of friends.
Someone who is ambitious
wants to get ahead in life/ wants to make something of themselves – someone who is ambitious
driven/motivated – someone who tires hard to achieve things
determined – someone who is prepared to work hard for what they want
single -minded – someone who is focused on their goals and doesn’t get distracted
a real go-getter – an idiom for someone who is proactive and works for what they want
career minded/ put your job first – the job is more important than family or friends
be married to your job –
I guess he’s the most ambitious person I know – he’s very driven and has always wanted to make something of himself. Even at school he was career minded and you could see that he would end up running a big business – and it’s not really a surprise now that he’s married to his job.
Someone who is realistic/sympathetic
self-possessed – someone who isn’t affected too much by others and remains calm and confident
have her head screwed on – an idiom for someone who is intelligent in a practical way
be a very grounded person/keep both feet on the ground – someone who doesn’t get carried away by their emotions
keep things in perspective/proportion – be able to see how important things really are – often when there is a problem
be sensible – be intelligent in a practical way
be a good listener – someone who will listen to other people and just let them talk about their problems
know the right thing to say – give good advice to people with problems
Whenever I have a problem I go to Gina – she’s extremely sensible and you can rely on her for some clear and realistic advice. She’s always seems to know the right thing to say and she’s a great listener too. She just seems to know what’s important in life and is very grounded – I’ve never known her to get carried away.
Someone who is stylish/individual
have a sense of style – have your own ideas about what is fashionable and not do/wear what is trendy/popular
have a good eye for – an idiom for someone who can see what is stylish
have good taste – be able to judge what is stylish
be a fashionista/fashion victim – be someone who will buy all the latest clothes
a real individual – someone who has their own sense of style and doesn’t follow what other people like
not follow the pack/crowd – do or think what most other people think because it is popular
a trendsetter – be the sort of person who is the first to do something
Patricia is the most stylish person I know – she just has excellent taste. I wouldn’t say that she is trendy or particularly fashionable but she always seems to wear the right clothes for the occasion – she has great taste.
Someone who is mature/reliable
responsible – someone who knows their duty
conscientious – takes time and trouble to do what they need to do
mature – not just a question of age but attitude
have an old head on young shoulders – be more mature even if they are young
trustworthy – someone who you can trust
someone you can bank on – someone you can rely on
always there for you – someone who you can rely on
be level-headed/not lose your head – not panic if there is a problem or get carried away their emotions
able to keep calm in a crisis
Annabelle is the most responsible person I know and is really trustworthy – if you ask her to do something you can be sure she’ll get it done. You can just bank on her. More than that she’s very level-headed and never gets carried away but will stay calm in a crisis. She’s a great person to have around when things go wrong.
Someone who is strongminded
have a strong character/be strong-willed – do what you want even when there is opposition
assertive – someone who is confident enough to say what they want
have/get your own way – make other people do what you want
be a force of nature – have a very strong character and be able to make other people do what you want even against their will
never takes no for an answer – someone who is not put off by opposition
doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet – someone who takes immediate action
direct – someone who is honest and clear and does not worry too much about politeness – can be a negative term
always get straight to the point – be direct in the way you speak
call a spade a spade – an idiom for someone who is direct
Alice is certainly an assertive character and she almost gets her own her way – there are very few people who are able to stand up to her. I suppose you could almost say she’s like a force of nature in this respect. And while I do admire her for strength of mind there are times when she won’t take no for an answer and won’tt compromise at all and this can make her difficult to deal with.
a typical family man – someone who prefers to spend his time at home with his family
put your family first – the family is more important than career
very maternal – the quality of a mother – be caring and supportive
be a chip of the old block – be very similar to your mother/father
Practice and more resources to help you
If you want to practice your skills then you can look at the sample speaking questions about people here.
You may also want to look at the vocabulary I have for relationships