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50 Personality Traits in German You Need to Know

Have you ever been asked about your vices or weaknesses in a job interview? 

That’s usually the moment when candidates say something like: “I wish I were less ambitious” or “I’m perhaps too much of a perfectionist.”

Nobody in their right mind would tell their future employer that they are often grumpy, a little messy and sometimes lazy. Am I right? 

Anyways.  

In today’s lesson, we’ll take a look at the most essential personality traits in German.

These virtues and vices will not only help you with your German job applications. They will also allow you to express your appreciation for a new colleague and to understand the latest gossip in your office.  

Personality Traits in German – 12 Must-Know Words

  • nett –  nice
  • fröhlich cheerful
  • lustig / witzig –  funny
  • großzügig generous
  • freundlich –  friendly
  • böse / gemein –  mean
  • schüchternshy
  • eifersüchtig jealous
  • unordentlich messy
  • faul lazy 

I bet some of these German adjectives sound familiar to you. Don’t they?

As a next step, I’d like you to study the following examples: 

Ich bin schüchtern.
I’m shy.

Du bist gemein.
You’re really mean.

Martin ist oft eifersüchtig.
Martin is often jealous.

Julia ist sehr freundlich.
Julia is very friendly.

Wir sind manchmal faul.
We’re sometimes lazy.

Ihr seid echt großzügig.
You’re really generous.

Die Kinder sind unordentlich.
The kids are messy.

Did you notice that the German adjectives in these phrases neither require a feminine nor a plural form? That’s awesome because the German case system can be pretty challenging for beginners. 

Another great thing is that you can use all of these personal traits with the verb “sein”. You only need to put it into the correct form first. 

Like in English, you can easily add words such as sehr (very), manchmal (sometimes), or echt (really) by putting them between the verb and the adjective.

Virtues and Vices – How to Describe Personality in German

Now that you’re familiar with the basic grammar rules and some essential character traits in German, I think you’re ready for this extensive list of virtues and vices:

Gute Eigenschaften / VorzügeVirtuesSchlechte Eigenschaften / LasterVices
zuvorkommend courteousunhöflich / unverschämt rude
vertrauenswürdigtrustworthyverlogen / unehrlich dishonest
verantwortungsvollresponsible unverlässlich unreliable 
respektvoll respectfulrechthaberisch bossy
herzlich / liebevollkindlaunisch grumpy
rücksichtsvoll considerateegoistisch / selbstsüchtig selfish
aufgeschlossen / offen open mindedstur / engstirnig stubborn
geduldig patientaufdringlich pushy
entspannt relaxedimpulsiv / aufbrausend impulsive
sensibel sensitivebrutal rough
einfühlsam / empathisch empatheticaggressiv aggressive
mutig courageous ängstlich anxious
ruhig quietlaut loud
klug / intelligent smart / intelligentdumm / blöd  – dumb
bodenständig down to eartheingebildet arrogant 
fleißig hard workingunachtsam / abwesend absent-minded
kreativ creativelangweilig boring
selbstbewusst self-confidentunsicher insecure
sparsam thriftyverschwenderisch lavish
treu loyalbetrügerisch deceitful
humorvoll humorousselbstgefällig / eingebildet smug
dankbar thankfulgierig greedy 
ehrgeizig ambitiousverbissen overzealous
brav well-behaved (for kids)schlimm mischievous  (for kids)
liebenswürdig amiableunausstehlich obnoxious 

I know, this is a whole lot to process.

Therefore, I want to help you memorize these German personality traits in a fun way.

Are you in the mood for a little game?  

Guessing German Character Traits

How about a quick guessing game?

I am going to describe 10 of the above-mentioned personality traits in German. Your job will be to find the right words from the list.

Ready, set, go:

  1. Jemand, der sich nicht stressen lässt.
    Someone who never gets stressed.
  1. Kinder, die auf ihre Eltern hören.
    Children who listen to their parents.
  1. Personen, die nur an sich selbst denken.
    People who only think about themselves. 
  1. Diese Person sagt weder “bitte” noch “danke”.
    This person never says “please” or “thank you”. 
  1. Jemand, der dich niemals verlassen wird.
    Someone who will never abandon you.
  1. Eine Person, die viele tolle Ideen hat.
    A person who comes up with lots of great ideas.
  1. Jemand denkt, dass er besser als andere ist.
    Someone who thinks they are better than others.
  1. Diese Person erzählt komische Witze.
    This person tells funny jokes.
  1. Leute, die an sich glauben.
    People who believe in themselves.
  1. Diese Leute verstehen, wie sich andere fühlen.
    These people understand how others are feeling. 

The correct answers are: 

(drum roll)

  1. entspannt relaxed
  2. brav well-behaved
  3. egoistisch / selbstsüchtig selfish
  4. unhöflich rude
  5. treu loyal
  6. kreativ creative
  7. eingebildet / selbstgefällig smug
  8. witzig / humorvoll funny / humorous
  9. selbstbewusst self-confident
  10. empathisch / einfühlsam empathetic

Using German Personality Traits in Context

Now you’ll learn how to use your new German vocab in a meaningful sentence. 

The following examples will give you an idea of what this may look like:

Johanna ist sehr unordentlich. Ihr Zimmer ist ein komplettes Chaos.
Johanna is very messy. Her room is a complete mess.

Thomas ist extrem großzügig. Er hat mir schon öfters geholfen.
Thomas is extremely generous. He has helped me out a lot. 

Wir suchen jemanden, der kreativ und verantwortungsvoll ist. Trifft das auf Sie zu? 
We’re looking for someone who’s creative and responsible. Do you meet these requirements? 

Ich wünschte, du wärst nicht so stur! Du hörst mir nicht einmal zu.
I wish you weren’t that stubborn. You’re not even listening.

Wärst du weniger launisch, hättest du mehr Freunde.
If you were less grumpy, you’d have more friends.

Ich habe mich von Sarah getrennt, weil sie zu eifersüchtig ist. 
I’ve broken up with Sarah because she’s too jealous.

Sei nicht so egoistisch! Du musst deine Spielsachen mit den anderen Kindern teilen. 
Don’t be so selfish! You have to share your toys with the other kids.

Alain ist voll geizig. Er übernimmt niemals die Rechnung. 
Alain is so stingy. He never offers to pay the bill.

If you don’t want to be like Alain, you should check out our article on German restaurant phrases. There you will learn how to make orders and ask for the bill in a German restaurant.

Personality Traits in German – How to Make Opposites

Some positive character traits can be used as roots to create their negative forms. 

To get the opposites of the following German virtues, you only need to add the prefix un-

UN–

geduldig ungeduldig
patient – impatient

sensibel unsensibel
sensitive – insensitive 

kreativ unkreativ
creative uncreative

dankbar undankbar
thankful – unthankful

treu untreu
loyal – disloyal 

sicher unsicher
secure insecure 

There’s also an example for in-, which is identical with its English equivalent: 

IN–

tolerant intolerant
tolerant – intolerant 

This one’s another interesting exception:

DES

interessiert – desinteressiert
interested – uninterested (indifferent)

Compared to that, negative forms with a -los are far more common:

–LOS

verantwortungsvoll verantwortungslos
trustworthy – untrustworthy

rücksichtsvoll rücksichtslos
considerate – inconsiderate 

humorvoll humorlos
humourous – humorless

herzlich herzlos
kind – unkind 

fröhlich – freudlos
joyfuljoyless 

The only thing you need to do is remove the -voll or -lich, and add a -los at the end of the word. That’s it. 

If you enjoyed this article on German character traits, you might also be interested in our list of funny German idioms

See you next time! 

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Sandra Foessl

Sandra Foessl

Language lover and bookworm. Lives in Austria and has been teaching English, French and German for more than a decade.

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