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Practicing Spanish Online: The Words For Personality and Appearance

written by: Jessica Cook • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 9/12/2012

Learn Spanish online with this free lesson. Learn to use the verbs "tener" and "ser" to describe a person's appearance and personality in Spanish. This article includes a downloadable Spanish practice worksheet for you to work on your descriptive skills after you review the lesson.

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    Getting Started Learning Spanish

    Do you want to learn to speak Spanish? Now you can begin to learn Spanish online for free using this lesson. People come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Here you will review the ways to describe people by their personality and appearance.

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    Describing Personality

    In Spanish, if you want to describe someone’s personality, you will say that he or she is _____ (fill in the blank with a descriptive adjective). To do this, you will need the verb “ser," since that is usually the verb you use to describe permanent or semi-permanent states of being. (It is assumed that an intelligent person will always be intelligent, etc.)

    For example ...

    Él es inteligente. (He is intelligent.)

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    Describing Appearance

    If you want to describe someone’s appearance, you can also use the verb “ser." Again, to do this you operate under the assumption that a beautiful person is always beautiful, or a redhead is always a redhead.

    For example ...

    Ella es rubia. (She is blonde.)

    El professor es alto. (The professor is tall.)

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    Using TENER

    Another way to describe someone’s appearance is to use the verb “tener." You use tener when you want to describe traits that someone has, rather than what they are. You use tener most frequently when describing someone’s hair, eyes, and skin.

    For example ...

    La chica tiene pelo rubio y ojos azules. (The girl has blonde hair and blue eyes.)

    Mi hermano tiene pelo oscuro y ojos verdes. (My brother has dark hair and green eyes.)

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    Tips to Remember

    • You can say that someone IS blonde (Ella es rubia) or that they HAVE blonde hair (Ella tiene pelo rubio).
    • You can describe someone by putting the adjective after the noun (La chica rubia) or by using "ser" or "tener" between the noun and adjective (La chica es rubia; la chica tiene pelo rubio).
    • If you are describing animals, you would use the él form of the verb. (El perro es gordo.)
    • Make sure you match your adjectives with the number and gender of your nouns.
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    Practice Activity

    Now that you know the basics, take a few minutes to practice using "ser" and "estar" to describe personality and appearance. Download this free Spanish worksheet now (it's a Word doc).

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