Descriptions in Spanish: How to Describe Physical Appearance

Can you describe someone's looks? Let's cover all the ways to give physical descriptions in Spanish so you can describe yourself and others.

Give descriptions in Spanish of these four people

One of the most common things we do when we talk about people is to describe their looks. You’ll want to know how to give physical descriptions in Spanish whether you’re introducing yourself on an online dating site, talking about someone you met, or responding to questions about your family.

In this post we’ll start off with how to talk about people’s looks, and then we’ll learn a bunch of describing words in Spanish. Are you ready to dive into the art of giving descriptions in Spanish? Let’s get started!

Asking for a Description

Pedir una descripción

Let’s start off by mentioning that the verb ser is the Spanish verb to be used for permanent characteristics, so we use it for many physical traits in Spanish. Since we’ll be using this verb throughout this lesson on physical descriptions, let’s first just review its conjugation in the present tense:

To be Ser
I am Yo soy
You are Tú eres
He, She, It is Él, Ella es
We are Nosotros somos
You are Ustedes son
They are Ellos, Ellas son

Now we’re ready to start asking questions:

English Spanish
What do you look like? ¿Cómo eres?
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 does he / she look like? ¿Qué aspecto tiene él / ella?
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 pelo?
Can you describe her / him to me? ¿Puedes describirlo para mí?

Now that we’re familiar with the questions, let’s move on to the answers you can provide to give a description in Spanish.

Describing Physical Appearance

Describiendo el aspecto físico

Let’s start by learning some very general physical descriptions in Spanish. Remember that when we use Spanish adjectives to describe a person, the form needs to agree with the gender and number of whoever it describes.

English Spanish
Tall Alto / Alta
Medium Mediano / Mediana
Short Bajo / Baja
Thin Delgado / Delgada
Slender Esbelto / Esbelta
Fat Gordo / Gorda
Chubby Regordeto / Regordeta
Muscular Musculoso / Musculosa
Fit En forma
Cute Lindo / Linda
Handsome / Beautiful Guapo / Guapa
Handsome / Beautiful Hermoso / Hermosa
Gorgeous Precioso / Preciosa
Attractive Atractivo / Atractiva
Plain Soso / Sosa

Now, let’s try using some of these Spanish adjectives to describe people. Note that the forms of the adjectives match the gender of the people being described:

  • What does he look like? / He is tall. – ¿Qué aspecto tiene él? / Él es alto.
  • What do you look like? / I’m short. – ¿Cómo eres? / Soy bajo.
  • What was she like? / She was tall and beautiful. – ¿Cómo era ella? / Ella era alta y hermosa.

We’ve already seen that for most physical characteristics in Spanish, we use the verb ser since these are general descriptions about a person. Sometimes though, we use the verb estar, when the description may just apply at this point in time. Let’s see how this applies with an example:

  • Andrés is very muscular and fit. – Andrés es muy musculoso y está en forma.

As a reminder, here’s the conjugation table in present tense for the verb estar:

To be Estar
I am Yo estoy
You are Tú estás
He, She, It is Él, Ella está
We are Nosotros estamos
You are Ustedes están
They are Ellos, Ellas están

Describing gender and age

Describir el género y la edad

Is the person we’re describing male or female? How about their general age?

English Spanish
A woman Una mujer
A man Un hombre
A baby Un bebé
A boy, A guy, A young man Un niño, Un muchacho
A girl Una niña
A young man Un joven
A young woman Una joven
A teenager Un adolescente
A minor Un menor de edad
An adult Un adulto / Una adulta
An elder Un hombre mayor / Una mujer mayor

We use the verb ser when generalizing how old or young someone is. This is in contrast with stating an exact age in Spanish, where we use the verb tener. Do you see the difference in these examples?

  • One of the assailants is a minor. – Uno de los asaltantes es menor de edad.
  • Angela is an older woman who works in the office. – Angela es una mujer mayor que trabaja en la oficina.
  • How old are you? / I am 23 years old. – ¿Cuántos años tienes? / Tengo 23 años.
  • My baby is five months old. – Mi bebé tiene cinco meses.

Describing Skin Tones

Describiendo los tonos de piel

Similarly to English, we use the verb tener to say they have a certain skin tone. Likewise if we’re talking about someone’s race, we use ser to say that a person is that race. The form of the adjective needs to agree with either la piel, or with the person. Check out the examples below to see this in action.

English Spanish
Skin Piel
White Blanco / Blanca
Brown Moreno / Morena
Dark skin Piel oscura
Black Negro / Negra
Mixed-race Mestizo / Mestiza
Asian Asiático / Asiática
Albino Albino / Albina
Pale Pálido / Pálida
  • There’s a black woman who lives next door to my apartment, who makes the best food. I always drool at the smell of her cooking. – Hay una mujer negra que vive al lado de mi apartamento, que hace la mejor comida. Siempre se me cae la baba con el olor de su forma de cocinar.
  • Physically I’m chubby, with small brown eyes, and white skin. – Físicamente soy regordeta, ojos pequeños y marrones, y tengo piel blanca.
  • I met a guy at the mall. He was gorgeous, he had brown skin and very big green eyes. – Conocí a un chico en el centro comercial. Era precioso, tenía la piel morena y unos ojos verdes muy grandes.
  • Angela has very pale skin. She must apply sunscreen every 4 hours. – Angela tiene la piel muy pálida, debe aplicarse protector solar cada 4 horas.

In Latin America, the terms negro and negra are often used to refer to a black man or woman, usually when speaking to a friend or partner. Although it isn’t considered offensive, it might be interpreted as an insult in the wrong situation, so don’t use it lightly.

Describing a person’s face and distinctive characteristics

Describir el rostro y las características distintivas de alguien

When we describe characteristics that people have, we use the Spanish word tener. You’ll recognize this as similar to English, when you would say that someone has freckles or that they have a big nose. So let’s just review the conjugation of tener in the present tense before moving on:

To have Tener
I have Yo tengo
You have Tú tienes
He, She, It has Él, Ella tiene
We have Nosotros tenemos
You have Ustedes tienen
They have Ellos, Ellas tienen

Now we’re ready to learn the next set of words for physical descriptions in Spanish:

English Spanish
A thin face Una cara delgada
An oval face Una cara ovalada
A round face Una cara redonda
Freckles Pecas
Moles Lunares
Warts Verrugas
Wrinkles Arugas
A birthmark Una mancha de nacimiento
A dimple Un hoyuelo
A big nose Una nariz grande
A turned–up nose, A snub nose Una nariz respingona
A pointed nose Una nariz puntiaguda
Big eyes Ojos grandes
Small eyes Ojos pequeños
Bulging eyes Ojos saltones
Thick eyebrows Cejas pobladas
Thin eyebrows Cejas delgadas, Cejas finas
Eyelashes Pestañas
Sideburns Patillas
Cheeks Mejillas
Rosy cheeks Mejillas sonrosadas
Scar, Scars Cicatriz, Cicatrices

Describing the wearing of accessories

Describir el uso de accesorios

To describe other distinctive characteristics that can change, or to talk about accessories, we use the verb llevar, which means to wear. You’ll be familiar with this for things like glasses or a hijab, but in Spanish we also use llevar to describe a person’s current facial hair or hairstyles.

So before we move on, let’s just review the present tense conjugation of llevar:

To wear Llevar
I wear Yo llevo
You wear Tú llevas
He, She wears Él, Ella lleva
We wear Nosotros llevamos
You wear Ustedes llevan
They wear Ellos, Ellas llevan

What are the accessories that people wear in Spanish?

English Spanish
Bangs Un flequillo
A ponytail Una cola
A bun Un moño
Mustache Bigote
A beard Barba
Glasses Gafas, Lentes
A hijab Un hiyab
Earrings Aretes, Zarcillos
Piercings Piercings, Perforaciones

Now let’s see a few of these in action:

  • My sister wears a hijab. – Mi hermana lleva un hiyab.
  • She was wearing glasses the last time I saw her. – Ella llevaba gafas la última vez que la vi.

Facial hair is actually a special case, since in Spanish you can both wear or have beards and mustaches. Also, we don’t use the article:

  • My dad has a beard and a mustache. – Mi papá lleva barba y bigote. – Mi papá tiene barba y bigote.
  • The last time I saw your brother, he had a beard. – La última vez que vi a tu hermano llevaba barba. – La última vez que vi a tu hermano tenía barba.

Describing hair

Describir el pelo

Like in English, we use the verb tener to describe what kind of hair someone has. Because the words for hair (el pelo, el caballo) are masculine and singular, the adjectives used to describe it must also be masculine and singular, regardless of the gender of the person being described. Note that we also use the article when talking about the hair:

  • What is your hair like? / I have short, straight, brown hair. – ¿Cómo tienes el pelo? / Tengo el pelo corto, liso y marrón.
English Spanish
Hair El pelo, El caballo
Short hair Pelo corto
Medium-length hair Pelo medio
Long hair Pelo largo
Curly hair Pelo rizado
Straight hair Pelo liso, Pelo lacio
Messy hair Pelo despeinado
Wavy hair Pelo ondulado
Braided hair Pelo con trenzas
Hair with dreadlocks Pelo con rastas
Blonde hair Pelo rubio
Brown hair Pelo marrón, Pelo castaño
Black hair Pelo negro
Dyed hair Pelo teñido
Highlights Mechas, Reflejos, Claritos

Also similarly to English, sometimes we use adjectives to describe what someone’s hair is like. In this case the Spanish adjectives need to match the gender of the person, and we use the verbs ser or estar:

English Spanish
Bald Calvo
Redheaded Pelirrojo / Pelirroja
Brunette Moreno / Morena
Gray-haired Canoso / Canosa
Bearded Barbudo
Clean-shaven Bien afeitado
  • The bald professor who teaches calculus is really nice. – El profesor calvo que enseña cálculo es realmente agradable.
  • I think Chris Evans could go bald and still look fine. – Creo que Chris Evans podría estar calvo y seguir viéndose bien.
  • My dad has been bald for as long as I can remember. – Mi papá es calvo desde que tengo memoria.
  • Is that the bearded man who helped you change your car tire? – ¿Ese es el hombre barbudo que te ayudó a cambiar tu llanta del auto?
  • He is bearded, tall and wears glasses. Are you sure you haven’t seen him around? – Él es barbudo, alto y lleva gafas. ¿Seguros que no lo han visto por aquí?
  • He is clean-shaven because his job requires it. – Está bien afeitado porque su trabajo se lo exige.
  • He doesn’t believe that he can have a beard, so he has a clean-shaven look. – No cree que pueda tener barba, así que tiene un aspecto bien afeitado.
  • I don’t know Alejandra, but I was told she is grey-haired, her hair is straight, and she wears glasses. – No conozco a Alejandra, pero me dijeron que es canosa, su cabello es liso y lleva lentes.
  • Can you believe it? I’m grey-haired and not yet in my 30s. – ¿Puedes creerlo? Estoy canosa y aún no llego a mis 30.
  • The grey-haired man from the library always has the best book recommendations. – El hombre canoso de la biblioteca siempre tiene las mejores recomendaciones de libros.


Now you have a whole new vocabulary for giving physical descriptions in Spanish! We’ve covered several categories of characteristics, introducing both the nouns and the Spanish adjectives to describe a person. And depending on which Spanish describing words you’re using, you also know whether to use ser, estar, tener, or llevar. Are you ready to talk about people’s looks?


If you’re ready to try out what you’ve just learned, we’ll leave you with photos of a few people to practice your new describing skills. Check out the questions for each person, and do your best to form your descriptions in Spanish. Some possible responses are provided at the end.

1. What is she like? – ¿Cómo es ella?

What this woman is like? Use Spanish adjectives to describe a person that you've just learned.

2. How does he look? – ¿Cómo se ve él?

What does this man look like? Use your new describing words in Spanish.

3. How is her hair? – ¿Cómo es su pelo?

How is this woman's hair? Give a description in Spanish.

4. Can you describe him to me? – ¿Puedes describírmelo?

Can you describe this man? Use the Spanish adjectives you've just learned.

1. What is she like? – ¿Cómo es ella?

She is a young, white woman with many freckles, small eyes and messy hair. She also has thin eyebrows and small eyes.

Ella es una mujer joven, de piel blanca, con muchas pecas, ojos pequeños y el cabello despeinado. También tiene cejas finas y ojos pequeños.

2. How does he look? – ¿Cómo se ve él?

He is a young white man with short black hair. His eyes are black and small. He has some moles and big cheeks. He is clean-shaven, and his face is oval.

Él es un joven blanco con pelo corto y negro. Sus ojos son negros y pequeños. Tiene algunos lunares y mejillas grandes. Está bien afeitado y su cara es ovalada.

3. How is her hair? – ¿Cómo es su pelo?

Her hair is long, straight and brown. She also has bangs.

Su cabello es largo, lacio y marrón. También lleva fleco.

4. Can you describe him to me? – ¿Puedes describírmelo?

He is a dark–skinned, fat older man. His hair is gray and short. In addition, he has an oval face, small eyes and he has a beard.

Él es un hombre mayo, gordo, de piel oscura. Su cabello es canoso y corto. Además, tiene una cara ovalada, ojos pequeños y lleva barba.

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