Describing people: positive and
Character and personality
Chinese astrology organises years into cycles of 12, and asserts that the year you are born in affects
your character. Each year is named after an animal.
imaginative, charming, generous, quicktempered, opportunistic1
conservative, methodical2, conscientious,
chauvinistic3, a born leader
sensitive, emotional, tends to get carried
away4, stubborn, rebellious, courageous
affectionate, obliging5, sentimental,
superficial6, often insecure7
fun-loving, popular, a perfectionist8,
gifted, may sometimes be tactless9
charming, intuitive10, stingy
diligent11, independent, placid12,
outgoing, can be selfish and cunning
elegant, artistic, always ready to complain,
witty, magnetic personality13, good
company, can be distrustful14
industrious, shrewd15, supportive16,
down-to-earth18, altruistic19, morose20,
intellectual, tolerant, naive22, often
using situations for own benefit
become too excited and lose control
ready to help
not caring about serious things
not confident, uncertain about your own
someone who is not satisfied if things are
not 100% perfect
inclined to say things that upset or offend
calm, does not easily become excited or
personality that attracts people to you
not trusting, suspicious of others
having good judgement
gives help or encouragement
spends too much money or uses too much
practical and sensible
thinking of others rather than yourself
inclined to speak in a severe and critical way
without enough experience of life, trusting
Positive and negative associations
Charming, generous – is that how you think of yourself? Selfish, cunning – that can't be me!
Some words in the chart above have positive associations, others negative ones. Here are some
words from the chart, together with other words that share some aspects of their meaning. The table
shows which have positive and which have negative associations.
Read the comments and then answer the questions.
I wish Tatyana would calm
down and not get so overexcited about things.
Alice can always be relied
upon to make the right
Sophie is always so calm.
Harry is such a practical
and sensible person.
Andrey has a tendency to say
things that upset people.
1 Who is placid?
2 Who is down-to-earth?
Tom thinks his country is better
than any other country and
doesn't listen to reason.
3 Who tends to get carried away?
4 Who is often tactless?
5 Who is shrewd?
6 Who is chauvinistic?
Which colleagues does the speaker have a positive opinion of and which a negative one?
"Ellie, my boss, is very astute and she can be very witty, but I find her assistant, David, a bit sullen and
obstinate. Julia, who I sit next to, is a bit stingy and extremely work-obsessed. I do a lot of work with Marco,
who's very obliging, supportive and tolerant."
Fill the gaps with words . You are given the first letter(s) and
clues to the meaning in brackets.
He's rather o
. He always tries to use situations to his own advantage. (devious)
She has an i
approach to life rather than a rational one. (instinctive)
My father was a somewhat quick-tempered and m
sort of person. (gloomy)
He was a very altruistic person, almost to the point of being n
. (too trusting)
Aisha has a m
personality. Everyone is drawn to her. (attractive)
Rob is a very conscientious and m
worker. (careful, systematic)
I find Eva a bit b
and rude. (speaks in a quick and rude way)
She's fun-loving but she can be a bit s
at times. (doesn't care about serious things)
I think Max is i
. (doesn't have much confidence, not really sure of himself)
I"m always happy to go out for a meal with Kerstin. She's such g
(pleasant and entertaining to spend time with)
11 She was very c
in speaking out against corruption. (brave, unafraid to speak or act)
12 Owen's a p
. He's never happy if he doesn't get an A-grade in every test.
Find adjectives on the opposite page related to these abstract nouns.
The adjectives you found in the exercise above are more common in formal contexts.
Give a synonym for each word that would be more likely to be used in informal
situations (e.g. a friendly, informal conversation). Use a dictionary if necessary.
Over to you
Which adjectives from this unit could you use to describe you, your friends and your family