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How to Describe Someone's Character

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Describe Someone's Character

A description is no more than explaining in words, in a detailed and organised way, what we have seen or experienced, whether events, landscapes, artwork and even people. The aim is that the person who hears or reads our explanation will imagine what we are describing exactly as it was.

When describing people, as well as giving a physical description, it is also important to describe their personality. At OneHowTo we will give you a series of tips on how to describe someone's character.

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Steps to follow:
1

The first thing to do is observe the person in question. Perhaps you think you know the person. However, when describing them, even the smallest details become important, and you might realize there are many things about them you hadn't noticed. To do this it is important to concentrate on every aspect, even though at first it does not seem important.

Why not take notes in a notebook? It's a bit Sherlock Holmes-y, and it works! This way, you'll have more material to write detailed and realistic descriptions.

2

When we dive into the description, we must first of all introduce the person. Say who they are, what they do, what their name is, their age and gender. Say who that person is to you, for instance; "Mary is my sister". This way, your reader knows who you're talking about from the beginning. Once introduced, move on to other general aspects:

Their height

You don't have to point out their exact height, but giving indications as to their size is a good way to describe someone's character. You don't have to discuss everything. Instead, focus on peculiar elements: Are they very tall or very short? Are they just as tall as you are?

Their body type

Describe someone through their body characteristics: Are they well-built, slim, plump, broad-shouldered?

Their age

In order to give the reader some location, give some indication as to the person's age. When you describe someone, it's as if you're painting their portrait. The reader must be able to visualize them, so the more precise the better!

3

After this brief presentation we can point out some physical traits which characterize the person. The first thing we notice when looking at them. It may be their hair, eyes, nose or mouth. All the elements of our description must be accompanied by adjectives which are able to create an image for the reader or listener.

How to describe someone's hair

Length or color are the obvious markers, but you can give this part some life through comparisons and textures; "his hair was dark and dusty like charcoal", for example.

How to describe someone's face

This might be the most difficult part, so you must really make an effort. After all, people's facial features are the most specific and memorable thing about them. Look for bulgy eyes, button noses, fleshy lips, wide foreheads - the reader will get an educated idea as to their appearance.

How to describe someone's skin

Describing someone's skin seems very basic, but it's necessary for the reader to get a visual picture. Remember than in Western cultures we're too used to assume that a character whose skin color is not specified is white - shake that convention up. Describe also the person's skin type: Are they freckled? Scarred? Prone to pimples? This will make them memorable.

Other characteristics

If the person you're describing has particular characteristics such as piercings, a beard, heavy eye makeup, or the like, it is very important to point them out. Observe the person you want to describe and write about them in a detailed, comprehensive manner - then cut all the non-specific filler out.

4

If you think it is appropriate, it could also be interesting to talk about the person's way of dressing. We can discuss whether they take pride in their appearance or if instead they are a bit of a slob - that says quite a lot about their character. There are many aspects that can differentiate someone's look:

  • What color do they usually wear? Some people are all-black fans, while others go for bright and poppy.
  • Signature clothes: If they always wear a particular piece of clothing, like bell-bottom jeans or ruffled shirts, you should point it out.
  • Accessories: Hats, watches and jewelry are tell-tale signs of someone's character.
  • Their overall look: When you see that person, what vibe do you get? Are they elegant, youthful, fun-loving, serious, downright hippies? Describe the image you get from their outfit - perhaps you can find someone they remind you of - and your description will be much more accurate.
5

Once you're done with the physical description, move on to the person's personality. This is one of the most important points; because the truth is that personality is more difficult to see at first glance. One way to recognize someone's character is through body language and gestures, which can give us many clues on how to describe someone's character.

You also have things such as habits, likes and dislikes, and hobbies, as well as personality adjectives such as: nice, warm, affectionate, cheerful, nervous, anxious, talkative, hardworking, quiet, closed-off, shy, pessimistic, chaotic, rebellious, honest, etc.

6

It is very important that the description of a person uses lots of adjectives. In addition, it is also a good idea to use literary characters as a point of reference. Thanks to these characters, our description will be much more informative, in addition to creating a better picture in the mind of the reader or listener of who we are describing.

You can also use comparisons and/or metaphors; our writing will feel more formal and literary, and the impression on the reader's mind will be suggestive rather than direct.

7

Finally, you can finish your description of someone's character with a sentence that reminds the reader of your relationship with that person. For instance, you can finish with "My sister Mary is so much fun, I love to spend time with her!" - Your description will feel polished and well-rounded.

This is how to describe someone's character: If you have any tips or ideas, or perhaps writing prompts, tell us in the comments section.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Describe Someone's Character, we recommend you visit our Learning category.

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