DESCRIBING people and family

A number of the speaking topics that you may be asked to talk about will involve describing or classifying people in some way. In Part 2, the long turn, the examiner may ask you to talk about a friend or a family member, a colleague or someone who has influenced you. You should talk about their physical appearance and their personality. You will score higher marks if you can demonstrate knowledge of precise and unusual vocabulary.

A) Appearance

Generally, people's physical appearances are described in terms of their height, build, hair colour and style, facial features, eye colour, maybe skin tone and any distinguishing features such as wearing glasses or having a beard, moustache, or particular dress style.


Dress casual, elegant, scruffy, smart, untidy, well dressed
Hair auburn, bald, black, blonde, clipped, cropped, curly, dark, dark brown, dyed, fair, light, light brown, long, medium length, mousey, premed, receding, shaved, short, straight, wavy
Facial features arched eyebrows, bushy eyebrows, high cheekbones, high forehead, long eyelashes, long nose, small mouth, snub nose, wide mouth
Height average height, lanky, medium height, short, tall
Skin black, brown, dark, fair, freckled, light, olive, pale, tanned
Build big, fat, medium build, muscular, overweight, plump, shapely, skinny, slim, stocky, svelte, thin, underweight, voluptuous, well built
Distinguishing features a beard, a mole, a moustache, a scar, earring(s), freckles, glasses or specs, spots, wrinkles

B) Personality

The vocabulary range to describe people's personalities is extremely wide. In the test, you will most likely be asked to describe a close friend or a family member, so it is worth thinking in advance about how you would describe your friend, brother, grandmother or whoever. Again, you will score higher marks if you can demonstrate knowledge of precise and unusual vocabulary. Here are some vocabulary tasks to revise or expand your range.


Positive Negative
  1. approachable
  2. clever
  3. confident
  4. creative
  5. dynamic
  6. easy-going
  7. flexible
  8. friendly
  9. funny
  10. generous
  11. honest
  12. kind
  13. observant
  14. outgoing
  15. practical
  16. relaxed
  17. reliable
  18. shrewd
  19. sincere
  20. sociable
  21. talented
  22. trustworthy
  1. arrogant
  2. bossy
  3. cowardly
  4. cruel
  5. jealous
  6. lazy
  7. obstinate
  8. mean
  9. rude
  10. ruthless
  11. selfish
  12. weak willed


Listen to some examples of people talking about different people and their family.


Example 1

Example 1 (transcript)


Example 2

Example 2 (transcript)


Example 3

Example 3 (transcript)


Example 4

Example 4 (transcript)


Example 5

Example 5 (transcript)


Record yourself talking about someone you know, or your family. After you have finished listen to yourself. Think about your use of vocabulary, your fluency, and your intonation. How could you improve?