Physical Descriptions in Spanish: Basic Vocabulary To Know

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Knowing how to express physical descriptions in Spanish is likely to be something that beginner students need to know sooner rather than later.

Whether it’s as simple as describing a key character in a story you’re telling, or more of a top priority like filling out your online dating profile, this post will provide a solid list of words that will help you the next time you need to describe someone in Spanish.

Before we continue, we should say that if you aren’t already familiar with adjectives in Spanish, then we recommend pausing, opening a new tab and checking out this post first.

Still with us?

Good, let’s dive in.

Basics For Physical Descriptions In Spanish

Verbs to know

The most used verbs to describe people are the verbs SER (to be) and TENER (to have).

  • If you aren’t sure about the differences between Ser vs Estar, read here.
  • If you aren’t sure about the verb Tener, then we’ve also got you covered here.

Now, let’s take a look below to see these verbs in action.

Personal Pronoun Ser English Equivalent Tener English

Equivalent

Yo soy I am tengo I have
Tu eres You are tienes You have
El, ella es He, she is tiene He, She has
Nosotros somos We are tenemos We have
Ustedes son You are tienen You have
Ellos son They are tienen They have

Questions to ask

English Spanish
How is he/she? ¿Cómo es él, ella?
How did they look? ¿Cómo se veían?
Who does he/she look like? ¿A quién se parece?
What was he/she like? ¿Cómo era él/ella?
What were they like? ¿Cómo eran ellos?
How is the color of his/her … ? ¿Cómo es el color de sus …?
How is his / her hair? ¿Cómo es su cabello?
Can you describe her/him for me? ¿Puedes describirlo para mi?

Describing gender and age

As you probably know, the verb tener is always used when stating someone’s age (e.g “yo tengo 28 años – I’m 28 years old).

However, you will use the verb ser when generalizing how old or young someone is.

English Spanish
Woman Mujer
Man Hombre
Young man Un joven
Young woman Una joven
A boy Un niño
A girl Una niña
An old man Un hombre mayor
An old woman Una mujer mayor
Adult Adulto, Adulta

Describing body shape

English Spanish
High Alto, alta
Short Bajo, baja
Medium Mediano, mediana
Thin Delgado, delgada
Obese Obeso, obesa
Fat Gordo, gorda
Muscular Musculoso, musculosa

Describing hair

English Spanish
Bald Calvo
Short hair Cabello corto
Medium hair Cabello medio
Long hair Cabello largo
Black hair Cabello negro
Red hair Pelirrojo
Grey hair Canoso, canosa
Blonde hair Cabello rubio
Dyed hair Cabello teñido
Curly hair Cabello rizado
Straight hair Cabello liso
Straight hair Cabello ondulado
Braided hair Cabello con trenzas
Dreadlocks hair Cabello con rastas

Describing skin

English Spanish
White skin Blanco
Brown skin Moreno
Black skin Piel oscura, raza negra
Asian Asiático
Albino Albino, albina
Pale Palido

Sidenote: In Latin America, the words “negro/negra” are commonly used as a term of endearment to refer to a black man or woman, normally when speaking to a friend or partner. Although it’s not seen as an offensive term to use, under the wrong context it could be interpreted as an insult, so make sure not to use it lightly.

Describing someone’s face

English Spanish
Big eyes Ojos grandes
Small eyes Ojos pequeños
Asian eyes Ojos asiáticos
Small / Big nose Nariz pequeña / grande
Big / small lips Labios grandes / pequeños
Big/small ears Orejas Gradnes / pequeñas
Long nose Nariz alargada

Describing distinctive characteristics

English Spanish
Tattoos Tatuajes
Scar, Scars Cicatriz – Cicatrices
Mole, moles Lunar, lunares
Freckles Pecas
Birthmark Marca de nacimiento or Lunar
Beard Barba
Moustache Bigote
Sideburns Patillas
Warts Verrugas
Wrinkles Arrugas
Lame Cojo
One-eyed Tuerto
One-handed Manco

So, how do I describe myself?

Of course, knowing how to describe your own physical appearance in Spanish is also worth learning.

The formula is very simple, and for the most part, translates directly from what you would say in English.

YO + tengo/soy + part of the body + adjective

Examples:

  • I have very long black hair – Yo tengo el cabello muy largo y negro
  • I have tattoos on my left arm – Yo tengo tatuajes en mi brazo izquierdo
  • I am a white girl and my eyes are brown – Yo soy blanca y mis ojos son marrones
  • I am tall and muscular man – Yo soy alto y musculoso
  • I have brown skin and I’m bald – Yo tengo piel morena y soy calvo
  • I’m Asian, tall, thin and I have dyed hair – Yo soy asiático, soy alto, delgado y tengo el cabello teñido
  • Now I have short hair – Ahora yo tengo el cabello corto

Examples of physical descriptions in Spanish

Now, it’s time to see some of the above words in action by describing what we see in the below photos.

We recommend first looking at the photos and seeing how well you can describe the people in them.

Then scroll down to see if your answer matches what we have.

children 1869265 1920

Question 1) ¿Puedes describir a las niñas? (Can you describe the girls?)

Una de las niñas tiene el cabello rojo. Su piel es blanca y tiene pecas. Ella es alta para su edad. La otra niña es de cabello corto y rubio y es pequeña.

One of the girls has red hair. Her skin is white and has freckles. She is tall for her age. The other girl has short and blond hair, and she is small.

senior couple 4723737 1920

Question 2) ¿Cómo es él? ¿Él tiene barba? (How is he?  Has he a beard?)

El es un hombre mayor. Tiene el cabello corto y con canas y también tiene barba, es corta y blanca. Su nariz es grande y sus ojo pequeños.

He is an older man. He has short and gray hair and also has a short white beard. His nose is big and his eyes are small.

dreadlocks 1169010 1920

Question 3) ¿Cómo tiene el cabello? (What does her hair look like?)

Tiene el cabello corto con rastas y de color negro.

She has short dreadlocks and black hair.

homeless 845709 1920

Question 4) ¿Cómo es el? ¿Puedes describir su cara? (How is he? Can you describe his face?)

Es un hombre mayor. Tiene la piel morena y tiene muchas arrugas. Su cabello es oscuro, corto pero despeinado. Tiene barba larga con canas. Sus ojos son grandes y su nariz es delgada y larga.Tiene orejas grandes

He is an older man. Brown skin with many wrinkles. His hair is dark, short but disheveled. He has a long beard with gray hair. His eyes are big and his nose is thin and long. His ears are big.

cute 4721888 1920

Question 5) ¿Cómo es su cabello y color de piel? ¿Ella es una mujer obesa o delgada? (How is her hair and skin color? Is she an obese or thin woman?)

Ella es una mujer delgada. su piel es morena y tiene cabello largo y ondulado, de color negro

She is a thin woman. Her skin is brown and she has long, wavy black hair

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