French Vocabulary: Physical Descriptions of People

Learn How to Describe the People Around You in French

As you learn to speak French, you will find it helpful to be able to describe people. Are they short or tall, handsome or ugly? What color is their hair or eyes? This easy French lesson will teach you how to accurately describe the people around you.

Perfect for beginners in the French language, by the end of this lesson you will be able to talk about the physical characteristics of people. If you would like to describe their personality, there is a separate lesson for that.

You can practice both lessons by describing your friends (les amis (m) or amies (f)) and family (la familieor anyone that you encounter. It will not be long before you these words become a natural part of your French vocabulary.

Note: Many of the words below are linked to .wav files. Simply click on the link to listen to the pronunciation.

How to Describe People in French

If you are asking about what someone looks like, you will use one of the following questions. Which you choose will depend on whether you are speaking about a man or a woman.

To answer that question and speak about height, weight, and other physical traits, you will use the following adjectives. Begin the sentence with Il / Elle est.. (He / She is...) and then use the appropriate adjective.

It should be noted that the masculine singular form of the adjectives is listed (except for pretty, which is normally used to describe women). Transforming the word into either the feminine or plural forms is easy and you will want to review the lesson on adjectives to learn how that is done.

He / She is... Il / Elle est...
... tall ... grand
... short ... petit
... fat ... gros
... thin ... mince
... handsome ... beau or joli
... pretty ... belle or jolie
... ugly ... moche or laid
... tan ... bronzé

Describing a Person's Features

Taking the descriptions one step further, you might want to talk about the color of a person's eyes (les yeux) or hair (les cheveux) or point out that they have freckles or dimples.

In this case, we want to say that he / she has... (il / elle a...) rather than he / she is... (il / elle est...). You would not say "she is hazel eyes," now would you? 

Also, the adjectives in this section are plural. This is because we do not speak about one eye without the other or refer to a single strand of hair when describing someone's hair color. Freckles and dimples are also rarely singular.

He / She has... Il / Elle a...
... blue eyes ... les yeux bleus
... green eyes ... les yeux verts
... hazel eyes ... les yeux noisette
... brown eyes ... les yeux bruns
... black hair ... les cheveux noirs
... brown hair .. les cheveux châtains (or bruns)
... red hair .. les cheveux roux
... blonde hair .. les cheveux blonds
... long hair .. les cheveux longs
... short hair .. les cheveux courts
... straight hair .. les cheveux raides
... curly hair .. les cheveux bouclés
... wavy hair .. les cheveux ondulés
... freckles des taches de rousseur
... dimples des fossettes
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Team, ThoughtCo. "French Vocabulary: Physical Descriptions of People." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). French Vocabulary: Physical Descriptions of People. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "French Vocabulary: Physical Descriptions of People." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).