Describing people: personality
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Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary.
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Yesterday, I published a podcast about the song Don’t stop me now by Queen. At the end of the podcast, I challenged you to find an advanced phrase that means something is going to crash into something else. The phrase is on a collision course.
Today, I’m looking at some A2 vocabulary that should be new for lower-intermediate and useful revision for everyone at a higher level. I’m going to look at how you can describe people, focusing on positive and negative personality traits or characteristics.
Mr Good & Mr Bad
I’m going to do this by talking about two imaginary people Mr Good and Mr Bad. Mr Good is warm and friendly. Friendly is very easy to understand. It means someone who enjoys meeting new people and is happy and like a friend. Warm is a bit more complicated. It means friendly but also caring. If someone is warm, they care for the people around them. They listen and want the people they meet to be happy and successful.
Mr Bad is cold and unfriendly. Unfriendly is not the opposite of friendly, it just means not friendly. So, you might have a colleague who is very professional but not friendly. Cold, however, is more negative. It means someone who is not caring, who shows no sympathy or interest in the happiness of others. For example, if you have to give someone bad news and you just say it outright, without preparing the person, then you might be called cold.
Nice, pleasant, horrible, unpleasant
Mr Good is nice and pleasant to be around. He’s a pleasant person. Nice is a pretty boring adjective. It’s positive but not very descriptive. You can use it to talk about food, the weather, clothes, music, most things. You can use nice to say that you like something; not love or adore, just … like. Pleasant is similar. If something is pleasant, it pleases you. It’s not overwhelming, but it makes you a bit happy. Like a gentle breeze on a summer day or a cup of afternoon tea.
Mr Bad is horrible and unpleasant. Unpleasant is much stronger than its opposite. Generally, it’s used to talk about bad experiences. Perhaps the taste of something yucky, like cod liver oil or the smell of rotten vegetables. If you describe a person as unpleasant then they are really not good company. Horrible is used in just the same way. It’s supposed to be stronger than unpleasant, but they are generally used in the same way. If the smell of rotten vegetables is unpleasant, a horrible smell would be something worse. I’m not going to make a suggestion for what might make a horrible smell.
Cheerful and miserable
Mr Good is cheerful. He’s a positive, happy person who always has a smile on his face and is quick to laugh and share a joke.
Mr Bad is miserable. He’s a sour-faced stick in the mud who is always sad and angry about something. He never sees the funny side and is usually in a bad mood.
Generous, mean and stingy
Mr Good is generous. This means he is happy to give his time and money to help others. Mr Good buys expensive presents for people and offers to pay for food and drinks when you are together.
Mr Bad is mean and stingy. Mean can be the opposite of generous, but it can also be the opposite of kind. If someone does something on purpose that hurts someone else, it is mean. Also, if they hate spending money on anyone else, they are mean. Stingy is more commonly used as the opposite of generous, but it actually means someone who doesn’t like to spend money at all, not on others and not on themselves.
Honest and dishonest
Mr Good is honest. You can trust Mr Good to do the right thing and to tell you the truth. Mr Good wouldn’t ever steal anything or try to trick or cheat anybody.
Mr Bad is dishonest. Don’t ever play cards with Mr Bad. He can’t be trusted. Don’t leave expensive valuables around Mr Bad. He might steal them. And don’t believe a word he says. He is absolutely full of lies.
Sensitive and insensitive
Mr Good is sensitive. He listens to you and thinks about you and how you are feeling before he speaks or does anything when he is with you.
Mr Bad is insensitive. He acts like he doesn’t care about you or anybody else. If you have had some bad news or aren’t feeling well, don’t expect special treatment from Mr Bad. He probably wouldn’t even notice if you were heartbroken.
There you have lots of adjectives that you can use to describe people.
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Thanks for listening.