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IELTS Describing people vocabulary

Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking component can be quite challenging if candidates are not sure of what to say for about 2 minutes. Two minutes can feel like two hours if you are not fully prepared for it and you can end up sounding like a broken record: repeating the same words and the same ideas over and over again. Unfortunately, what’s worse is that there is no choice in the kind of topic to discuss, so they will have to make the best use of the situation by preparing and practising for common topics as much as possible.

During the IELTS Speaking and/or Writing exam candidates may be asked to talk about someone’s personality or character. Therefore, it is important to know how to describe people. You could use these phrases to talk about yourself and the people you know.

  • One of his/her best qualities is that …
  • I think I’ve inherited certain traits from …
  • S/he’s the sort of person you …
  • I’m … though having said that, I …
  • I’m probably … on the down side.
  • … doesn’t bother me.
  •  I’m quite happy to …

It would also help for you to know vocabulary related to describing people and to practice it.

  • Some of the most commonly used positive adjectives are ambitious, brave, cheerful, delightful, encouraging, faithful, generous, helpful, perfect, successful and thoughtful.
  • Frequently used negative adjectives are arrogant, cowardly, depressed, evil, greedy, horrible, jealous, obnoxious, ruthless, snobbish, testy and undesirable.

You need to master the rules of English grammar to use words properly during written as well as oral communication. The following are some examples that will help you know more about the usage of these adjectives.

  • She is a bright student.
  • Her drab personality was more discouraging than anything else.
  • He was nothing, but a snobbish, old fool.
  • His vengeful attitude finally led to his own downfall.
  • The helpful professor was more favored than his counterparts.
  • She was self-assured, cheerful and very successful.
  • His testy nature made him very unpopular among people.

Describing people vocabulary with definitions

  • to be the life and soul of the party: a fun person, someone who is the centre of activity
  • to bend over backwards: to try very hard to help someone
  • broad-minded: prepared to accept other views or behaviours
  • easy-going: relaxed and not easily worried about anything
  • extrovert: an energetic person who likes the company of others
  • fair-minded: to treat people equally
  • fun-loving: to enjoy having fun
  • to hide one’s light under a bushel: to hide one’s talents and skills
  • good company: enjoyable to socialise with
  • good sense of humour: the ability to understand what is funny
  • introvert: someone who is shy
  • laid-back: see ‘easy-going’
  • to lose one’s temper: to suddenly become angry
  • narrow minded: opposite of ‘broad-minded’ (see above)
  • painfully shy: very shy
  • to put others first: to think of others before yourself
  • quick-tempered: to become angry quickly
  • reserved: shy
  • self-assured: confident
  • self-centred: thinks only of oneself
  • self-confident: believes in one’s own ability or knowledge
  • self-effacing: to not try to get the attention of others (especially in terms of hiding one’s skills or abilities)
  • to take after: to be like (often another member of the family)
  • thick-skinned:  not easily affected by criticism
  • trustworthy: can be trusted
  • two-faced: not honest or sincere. Will say one thing to someone to their face and another when they are not present.

Lets practice abovementioned vocabulary in IELTS Speaking model questions and answers.

Part 1 Questions and Answers

Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: Everyone tells me I take after my mum as I’m quite laid-back … I think I’m good companybut you should ask my friends if they agree …

Q: In which ways are you similar to your friends?
A: I seem to be attracted to introverts … not people who are painfully shy but most of my friends are a little reserved … and I think that’s what I’m like …

Q: Are you similar or different to your brother(s)/sister(s)?
A:  I think my brother and I are very similar … I’d say we’re fun-loving and tend to be a bit extroverted … my brother is certainly the life and soul of the party … I’m not sure that applies to me …

Part 2 Questions and Answers

Describe a teacher you once had who you enjoyed being taught by. You should say

  • who this person was
  • when they were your teacher
  • which subject they taught you

and describe what it was about their character that you liked.

A: I’d like to describe my English teacher from school … Miss Thomas … this was a few years ago now and she was my teacher at a time when I was getting a little bored with being at school … unlike some of the other teachers Miss Thomas never lost her temper … she was very calm and easy-going … she was also very broad-minded … we were able to ask her questions about lots of subjects that some other teachers would refuse to discuss which made us respect her even more … she had a great sense of humour too … she’d laugh at our jokes as well as making us laugh … and she would also bend over backwards to help us with our work … she always put us first and often stayed around at the end of class to talk with anyone who needed help … apparently she was highly respected within her field but you would never know as she was the type that hid her light under a bushel … she was very modest and self-effacing … so yes … Miss Thomas was a teacher I have fond memories of …

Part 3 Questions and Answers

Q:  Which personal qualities do you think we most want to pass on to our children?
A: I certainly would want my children to be self-confident and self-assured … I really believe that people who feel good about themselves are in a good position to face what life has to offer them … and I’d hope they wouldn’t be self-centred … but remembered to think about others …

Q: Which characteristics do you think are the least appealing in a person?
A: Well … people who are very narrow-minded are difficult to get on with … it’s nice when someone is open to other people’s opinion and willing to think about their own views … and people who are two-faced can be a little irritating … relationships are built on trust and without honesty there’s not much left …

Q: Which personality types do you think are less likely to suffer from stress or anxiety?
A: Probably people who are thick-skinned … who don’t let people or problems affect them too much … and if you are fair-minded you’ ll be less likely to overreact to situations or be quick-tempered …

* Original acticle 


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