Adjectives to describe a person in Spanish

Adjectives to describe a person in Spanish

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated May 3, 2023

There are numerous adjectives to describe a person in Spanish in either positive or negative ways. Every individual has a distinct personality, physical appearance, and behavior. One way to improve your Spanish skills is by describing the people around you every day. If you learn descriptive adjectives, you can accurately describe individuals and your interactions with them.This practice will expand your vocabulary and bring color and flavor to your Spanish conversations.

Using adjectives in Spanish is a little different from English. In Spanish adjectives and nouns must agree in gender and number. For this reason, people wonder if Spanish is hard to learn. Thankfully, the adjective-noun agreement is an easy skill to learn after tuning your ear. Thankfully, many Spanish adjectives are also cognates, which will help you learn quickly. 

There are different types of adjectives in Spanish. Today we are going to learn about descriptive adjectives and how they can help you to describe a person. 

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How to use adjectives in Spanish

Before we jump into the adjectives let’s review how to use adjectives in Spanish. Adjectives in Spanish must agree in number and gender to the noun (person, place, thing or idea) they are modifying. Let’s see examples of how this works.

He is tall. Él es alto
She is tall. Ella es alta
The male basketball players are tall. Los basquetboleros (ellos) son altos
The female basketball players are tall.Las basquetboleras (ellas) son altas

The adjective ‘tall’ in English never changes. In Spanish, the root adjective alto changes to alta for ella, a feminine noun. It changes to altos for ellos, the masculine plural noun. Finally, it changes to altas for ellas, the feminine plural noun. See how the endings go together?

Generally, adjectives that end in -o are used to describe masculine nouns. To describe a feminine noun, the ending changes to -a. Adjectives that end in -e are not masculine or feminine, they are neutral. These can be used for either without changing.

  • El perro es bonito (The dog is pretty).
  • La chica es bonita (The girl is pretty).
  • El perro es amable (The dog is nice).
  • La chica es amable (The girl is nice).

To make an adjective plural, add an -s to the end of the word. For adjectives that end in a consonant add -es.

  • lago > lagos (lakes)
  • azul > azules (blues)

Word order is also important when learning Spanish adjectives. In English the word order is subject + adjective + noun. 

  • The red house. 

In Spanish, the work order is subject + noun + adjective. 

  • La casa roja. 

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules! By following the rules above, you will be correct most of the time. 

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How to describe a person in Spanish

When having conversations in Spanish, we sometimes need to physically describe a person. Don’t forget adjective-noun agreement. Adjectives in Spanish need to match in gender and number to the noun they are describing. 

Let’s review some adjectives to describe a person in Spanish. The adjectives below are perceived as either positive or neutral description words in Spanish. 

Altura mediaMedium height
CortoShort (for hair)
LargoLong (for hair)
LisoStraight (for hair)
OnduladoWavy (for hair)
RizadoCurly (for hair)

How to describe your personality in Spanish 

Now let’s take a look at a few personality adjectives in Spanish that you can use to describe yourself (or others!) to friends and family.. Are you looking for a job? Friends? A date? Describing yourself and others will help when meeting new people.

Remember, adjectives need to be modified to match gender and number. 

SimpáticoNice or pleasant

Wondering whether to use ser vs. estar to describe yourself? Remember, when describing a permanent characteristic about yourself or others, ser is the right verb choice.

  • Yo soy lista y optimista (I am a smart and optimistic person).
  • Ella es alta y educada (She is tall and polite/well-mannered).
  • Ellos son talentosos y graciosos (They are talented and funny). 

Smart and prepared

To take your Spanish skills to the next level, spend some time memorizing adjectives and learning how to use them correctly. 

Learning adjectives that describe the physical and personality characteristics of a person will take you beyond the basics of bueno y malo (good and bad) into more natural daily conversations. 

Spanish is a fun and descriptive language. Learning adjectives will help you to be inteligente y preparado o preparada (smart and prepared).

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

Alison Maciejewski Cortez

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