Speaking About People

Speaking About People

Speaking Test Part Two: Questions about people

Many of the questions in this part of the test are about people. As well as this you can often discuss a person when you are answering other types of questions. For instance, if you are describing a place you might describe the person you go there with.


If the question asks you to describe someone you know now. e.g. Describe a person who is interesting,  you should describe the person using the present tense. If you are asked to describe someone you know from the past you should still describe the person using the present tense, unless the person is now dead. In this case you will use the past tense. Illustrative examples:

My neighbor Brian is a senior citizen. [present tense is used because he is still alive]

Audrey Hepburn was a petite woman. [past tense is used because she is dead]

For all types of people, describe any actions they have already done using the past tense. For example, “He learnt how to fly a plane last year.”

Use relative pronouns [who, whose]

Use who to add information about the subject.

My neighbor, who is really old, seldom goes outside.

Use whose as a possessive relative pronoun.

He is a rich man whose house is very large.



To make your answer more interesting use lots of descriptive vocabulary, e.g. extrovert, slender, and so on. You could talk about the following aspects:

1.     appearance

2.     personality

3.     relationship to you

4.     their lifestyle

1. appearance:

Height: petite [short], lofty [tall]

Build: slender [thin], overweight [fat], well-built [muscular]

Age: toddler [young child], adolescent [young adult], senior citizen

Facial features: clean shaven, full beard, goatee beard, moustache

Hair: short cropped hair, long thick hair, ponytail, bald

Audrey Hepburn was a petite woman with short cropped hair. Hepburn was boyish, and yet feminine simultaneously. She was famous for wearing little black dresses that had a way of making her look glamorous. [past tense is used because she is dead]



Brian is a senior citizen, with a goatee beard, a moustache, and a short grey ponytail. He always wears sunglasses because he has eyes that are sensitive to sunlight. [Present tense is used because he is still alive].



Sarah, who is in her early forties, is quite tall and has a medium build. She has thick black hair that is plaited into a waist length ponytail. She usually wears jeans and a red sweater.





You can talk about positive and negative features of a person’s personality.

Positive: warm, fun loving, intelligent, charming, kind-hearted, extrovert [outgoing]

Emma is quite an extrovert. She is always the life of the party because of her warm-hearted and fun loving nature.

Negative: mean, selfish, cruel, arrogant, introverted, a pain in the neck [annoying]

Stevenis rather introverted, he usually sits quietly in the corner at parties. He is also a pain in the neck because he always bothers me when he needs help with his computer.


3. RELATIONSHIP: pal, soul-mate, classmate, colleague, family member, mentor

I have been pals with Peter since high school. I guess you can say that now he is my soul-mate. As well as this his father has always been somewhat of a mentor to me, as he is my soccer coach.


4. lifestyle: hobbies, interests, work

My sister is a college student and a part-time assistant in an office, so she has little time to socialize at the weekend or play badminton

Some advice about vocabulary:

1. Have short lists; you only need 2 or 3 words for each category

2. Focus on high-level language = language to impress the examiner and increase your score

3. The truth doesn’t matter, use language to describe a person even if that is not true. For instance, you might say your uncle is an extrovert even though he isn’t! This is to increase your score for vocabulary.


Questions about people with model answers:


You should say:

Who the person is

How you know this person

What this person is like

And explain why you think he or she is polite

I’d like to describe a very courteous person I know.

This person is a male friend of mine. I got to know him a few years ago when I was introduced to him by another friend of mine.

I’d describe him as a very friendly person and have always found him to be very considerate of other people. He is also very generous and he often tries to help people if he can see that they are doing things tough. For example, he likes supporting a lot of small business in his local area because he knows their businesses are struggling right now. He will also often buy something for you that he knows you need at the shops to save you having to go to the shops yourself. Just the other day he bought me a bag of oranges when he was down at the shops because he knows I like oranges.

Another reason why I think he is polite is because he is a very considerate host. He is an extrovert and always likes meeting new people too and often he will invite them back to his place. He will offer them something to eat or drink upon entering his house. He also likes to make sure you are comfortable and will always ask you if you are too hot or cold. If you are, he will adjust the temperature to your liking.

Giving things away to other people is another considerate thing he does. If he has no use for things anymore he’ll ask you if you’d like to have it.

I think this person is polite for many reasons. He is very friendly and welcoming and considerate of others. He is also very patient and a good listener and will not butt in when you are in the middle of saying something.

I often hear him say, ’please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot too, or, ‘you’re welcome’ whenever you’re talking to him and he likes helping others out when he thinks they may need something.

Overall, I’d say he’s the most polite person I’ve ever met.


Courteous: paraphrase of polite.

Do things tough: (Idiom) Struggle to make enough money to live off.

Help out: (Phrasal Verb) Help someone or a group of people do something.


You should say:

Who he or she is

What he or she is like

How you got in contact

And explain how you felt about it

This person was a British guy who I’d met in Japan many years ago. I knew this person in Japan he was an English teacher working at the same company as I used to work at.

I’d always thought he was good company because he’d always been social and easy going in the past.

He was also quite slim when I knew him in Japan and he always looked very young for his age I thought. He is an extrovert and always good at telling jokes and making people laugh.

Initially he got in contact with me on Facebook and said he was coming to Thailand and that when he got here he’d let me know. Sure enough, a few weeks later he contacted me on Facebook again to say he was in my local area and said he’s like to meet up at a bar somewhere.

I suggested we meet at a certain bar where the beer was reasonably priced and the food was of good quality. He told me to look out for him in the bar as he was planning to get there before me. When I arrived at the bar however I couldn’t find him as I couldn’t see anyone there who was slim and young looking.

Then I noticed someone who looked similar to him sitting in the corner of the bar. To my surprise it was him. I was totally shocked when I saw him. He’d become much fatter and he wasn’t looking so young anymore. He also didn’t seem to be the same jovial person I knew in Japan. He seemed much more serious this time.

He was still working at the same company but he had burned out from working too hard. To make matters worse, he said he was burning the candle at both ends and partying too hard and all that hard living had caught up with him.

It was great to catch up with him again but I felt quite shocked that he’d changed so much. He wasn’t the same happy go lucky person I knew in Japan and he wasn’t that funny anymore.


Good company: (Phrase) Interesting, pleasant.

Easy going: (Idiom) Relaxed, tolerant, easy to get along with.

Extrovert: outgoing person

Jovial: (Adj) Happy, cheerful, friendly.

Burn the candle at both ends: (Idiom) Go to bed late and get up early every day to work and live life.

Party: (Verb) To enjoy oneself, to celebrate typically but drinking and socializing with people.

Happy go lucky: (Adj) Cheerful. Carefree, easy going.


You should say:

Who this person is

How you knew this person

Why you think this person is open

and explain how you feel about this person

The person I like to describe that shows their emotions is my younger sibling Kate.

I’m grateful to have such a supportive family and a large circle of friends who are always be there for me no matter what. I spend most of my free time surrounded with my beloved friends and family. Even though I love them all to the moon and back, my younger sister, Kate, is the one that’s closest to me.

Part of the reason we are so close is that we are like soulmates, you know I can always tell what she is thinking and feeling. It’s always easy to tell whether she is happy or sad because she always wears her heart on her sleeve. Most the time she is happy and has a huge grin on her face. She is a happy-go-lucky person and seldom gets upset. Occasionally, you know once in a blue moon, something might set off and her mood will change. Look out when this happens, when she is angry she is grumpy as hell! I’ve learned that it’s best to stay away from her when she is in a bad mood.

Kate is seven years younger than me, which might create some sense of generation gap, yet, we still get along well, and I always know which is thinking. Her friends also feel she is open. Sometimes this gets into trouble because she is too honest. Like when we were kids we once broke a vase and she couldn’t help herself from telling our mother how we have been horsing around and accidentally knocked it over. Another time when my sister’s teacher asked to meet our parents because Kate had told her classmates that her dress looked ugly. To her defense, that dress really looks terrible and I was the one who first said that. I told the teacher that it was me who had first mentioned the dress because I didn’t want my sister taking all the blame. We have got each other’s back and we always will because that’s what sisters do and simply because I love her.


circle of friends: group of friends

to the moon and back: very much

soulmates: people who are very close to each other emotionally

generation gap: difference in values and attitudes between one generation and another,

to her defense: in support of someone criticized


You should say:

Who this person is

How you know this person

Why you think this person is energetic

and explain how you feel about this person

The active person I’d like to talk about is my cousin Chan.

Of course, when I was young, I lived with my parents and spent most of my time with them. However, when I met my cousin, Chan, at a family gathering, we became best friends very quickly. Chan was the son of my father’s sister and my aunt and uncle lived in a nearby village so Chan and I attended the same elementary school.

The reason I think Chan is energetic is because he always engages in many sports and activities. As kids we both loved to ride bicycles when we were young and we would bicycle five kilometers to school each day. After classes, we would play football on the school playground where we became quite skilled, competitive and athletic.  One day some older students were hanging out and watching us play. They suggested we try out for the school football team. Being younger than the other team players, I didn’t think we would make the team however the coach did invite us to play. We both made the team and. I was so proud of our red and gold jerseys and enjoyed the team spirit and comradeship.

Chan and I still hang out on a regular basis and we still play soccer together. Chan has so much energy is actually playing for two teams. We play together on Saturdays and on Wednesdays he plays indoor soccer for a competitive local team. Chan is so talented he always gets picked to play, whereas I’m often on the reserve bench. Chan seldom gets subbed because he always seems to have enough energy to go the distance of the whole match.


active person: paraphrase of energetic person

team spirit: feeling of pride and loyalty that exists among the members of a team

comradeship: Friendship

hangout: spend free time together

subbed: to get substituted for another player

go the distance:  playing until the end 

See more questions for 2021!


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