Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

How to Describe a Person's Appearance in English

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 @ 11:05 AM

how to describe a person's appearance in EnglishDo you know how to describe a person's appearance in English?

You probably learned the basic adjectives when you were studying English in school.

But perhaps you want to learn a few more sophisticated and conversational ways to talk about the way that people look.

Ready to learn something new?

Read today's article.





1) How to describe someone's build (physical size)


  • "She is kind of heavyset": This is a more polite way to say that someone is slightly large. This does not mean that they are extremely overweight. 


  • "That person is obese": This phrase means that the person is extremely overweight by medical standards and that they are in poor health.


  • "He is a bit chubby": This term is sometimes used to describe babies and kids. You can say that a baby has "chubby cheeks" if his cheeks are fat. It is not considered polite to say this about an adult.


  • "He is extremely overweight": This is a more polite way to say that someone is fat. You should not say "this person is fat" especially not directly to the person.



how to describe an overweight person in English



  • "She is quite slim" or "she is slender": This is a polite way to say that someone is thin.


  • "She is in great shape": This means that the person exercises regularly and that he or she is in great physical condition, they are healthy.

  • "He is really muscular" or "he is pretty fit": In this case "pretty" does not mean beautiful, but it means "very."



slim woman, how to describe skinny people in English



  • "She is really tall": In the US, a tall woman is about 5 foot 7 inches or taller.


  • "He is on the short side": Instead of directly saying "she is short" you could soften your statement by saying "He is on the short side."


  • "She is quite petite, isn't she?": This is only used to describe women who are shorter than average. The average height for a woman in the United States is 5 foot 4 inches.



short guys how to describe short people in English




2) How to describe someone's attractiveness


  • "I can't believe how cute he is": A young child can be "cute" or a potential date can be "cute" in the sense that you are attracted to the person.

  • "I think he's good-looking": This is a more modern way to say "handsome" or atractive."

  • "To me she's really pretty": This is a slightly less strong word than "beautiful." A teenage girl could be "pretty" but a mature woman could be "beautiful."

  • "Isn't she gorgeous?": This means that the person is extremely attractive.



how to describe an attractive person in English



  • "He's not very attractive to me." or "In my opinion, he's not really that cute": This is a way of saying that your opinion might be different from the opinion of other people.


  •  "He isn't very handsome": The word handsome is only used to describe men. "Beautiful" or "pretty" can only be used to describe women.


how to describe an unattractive person in English



Do you have any other questions about how to describe people in English?

If so, please email me at or leave a comment below and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Good luck with your English and keep studying!




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Photo credit: lancefisher, Tobyotter, adifansnet, Banjo Brown, Gabbo T, Daniel Morrison

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