How to Describe a Person In Detail and Impress the IELTS Examiner

You will often be asked to describe a person in the IELTS exam. This could be a family member, a friend, a historical figure, or even a celebrity. The question will require you to talk about the person’s personality, character, or both. So, to prepare for it, it’s essential to know some vocabulary words used to describe people and to practice using them. In this blog post, I will cover some vocabulary you can use in the exam and then demonstrate it in use with an IELTS Speaking Part 2 sample answer.

Describe a person’s character

Let’s first take a look at describing a person’s character. Generally, you can talk about a person’s character using either positive or negative adjectives. Here are some examples:

Positive Definition
Supportive To provide or offer assistance when necessary.
Cheerful Having a happy or pleasant personality.
Ambitious Having a strong desire for success.
Outgoing Having a sociable and friendly personality.
Considerate Having a kind and thoughtful personality.
Confident Being sure of oneself.
Adventurous Someone who likes to try new and daring things

Negative Definition
Pessimistic Someone who often thinks negatively about life.
Rude Impolite
Insensitive Unfeeling or uncaring about other people’s feelings.
Stingy Someone who doesn’t like to share.
Deceitful A dishonest person who tries to hide the truth.
Arrogant Someone who believes they are better than others.
Bad-tempered A person who has an angry, irritable personality.

Describe Physical Characteristics

Now, let’s take a look at describing a person’s physical characteristics. English has a variety of words and ways to describe physical appearances. The following are some useful ways you should learn if you don’t already know them:

Physical Vocabulary
Height Tall, slender, short, medium height
Build Chubby, petite, thin, stocky, small, large, muscular
Hair Long, short, medium length, red, black, brown, gray, brunette, bald, straight, curly, wavy, thin
Eyes Blue, brown, dark brown, gray, green


Clean-shaven, mustache, beard
Complexion olive, fair, pale, dark, light

The above are relatively common ways to describe people in English. If there are any words that you’re not sure about, be sure to look them up in the dictionary so you can add them to your knowledge base. Now, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use this vocabulary to describe a person in the IELTS Speaking exam.

Sample IELTS Answer

Part 2

Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test is called The Long Turn and lasts about 3-4 minutes. In this part of the test, the Examiner will hand you a piece of paper with your topic where you will be asked to describe a person, place, object, activity, event, etc. Here are a couple of sample questions:

Describe a historical person you admire. You should say:

-who this person is

-describe some things they’ve done

-say why you like this person

Describe your childhood friend. You should say:

-when you met

-where you met

-how you felt about this friend

STUDY TIP! While it is always better to base your answers on real-life experience, remember that you don’t need to tell the truth in the IELTS exam. Learn some key vocabulary to describe people and use words to the exam, regardless of whether you are describing a friend, family member, historical figure or celebrity!

USE A STRUCTURE! Using the correct structure for your question provides you with a framework with which you can really show the examiner your full range of English ability. Find out about part 2 structures by reading THIS PJC English blog post!


Describe your childhood friend. You should say:

-when you met

-where you met

-how you felt about this friend

Band 8 or above sample answer


I’m blessed to have an extensive network of friends who are unbelievably supportive, considerate, and adventurous. And I more than anyone, never take my friends for granted. This is why I always make a special effort to keep in touch with my childhood friends, especially one in particular, my friend Tom.

Tom and I first met in 5th grade. He sat next to me the whole year, and I knew right away we would be best of friends. We used to spend all our time together. Tom was confident, outgoing, and very adventurous. Whenever the teacher asked for a volunteer, he was the first to raise his hand. Later on, in high school and college, Tom became quite the lady’s man. I’m sure this had something to do with the fact that he was quite tall with a muscular build. He also had straight brown hair and blue eyes. He was a handsome young man.

Today, Tom is the owner of an IT firm with over a dozen employees. He and I have worked together on a few projects when he hired me to build his website for him. He’s still a very confident person, but I also found him to be very helpful, and we’ve had endless conversations where we talk about family, career, and difficulties in life. He always tries to encourage people to do their best, which is one of the things I admire about him. Even though we don’t see each other as much as we used to, I really appreciate our wonderful friendship.

As you can see, the above answer uses several adjectives throughout to not only describe physical characteristics but also to describe personality too. Now that you know how to describe a person in the IELTS exam, get practicing!!


While preparing for the IELTS exam, it’s vital that you know that 25% of your score depends on your lexical resource. Therefore, whether you’re describing someone or giving your opinion about a particular topic, having a strong vocabulary is vitally important to your success on the test

Do you need help with IELTS or The Cambridge Exams? Do you use English at work and want to feel more confident? Contact PJC English today and BOOK A FREE TRIAL LESSON!