personality-traits-in-spanish

Personality Traits in Spanish – Over 80 Essential Words and Phrases

I wish I were more relaxed. But I am anxious and restless. On the other hand, my husband is the most laid-back and easy-going person I’ve ever met. Luckily, my kids take after him and don’t fret about insignificant things.

How about you? What is it that you like about your personality? Is there anything you’d like to change?

And most importantly: do you know how to talk about personality traits – “razgos de personalidad” –  in Spanish?

How many of the words below do you know?

Personality Traits in Spanish – 12 Must-Know Words

  • 🇪🇸 bueno – 🇬🇧 good
  • 🇪🇸 simpático – 🇬🇧 nice
  • 🇪🇸 alegre– 🇬🇧 cheerful
  • 🇪🇸 divertido– 🇬🇧 funny
  • 🇪🇸 generoso– 🇬🇧 generous
  • 🇪🇸 amigable– 🇬🇧 friendly
  • 🇪🇸 malo – 🇬🇧 bad, mean
  • 🇪🇸 tímido– 🇬🇧 shy
  • 🇪🇸 celoso – 🇬🇧 jealous
  • 🇪🇸 desordenado – 🇬🇧 messy
  • 🇪🇸 perezoso / flojo – 🇬🇧 lazy

What verb do we use in Spanish to say that someone is funny and friendly, shy, or lazy? As long as we talk about personality, which implies a permanent condition, the correct verb is SER.

🇪🇸 Juan es simpático.
🇬🇧 Juan is nice.

🇪🇸 Eres muy perezoso.
🇬🇧 You are very lazy.

🇪🇸 Soy tímido.
🇬🇧 I am shy. 

However, keep in mind that if you describe a momentary behavior, feeling, or mood in Spanish, you can use some of these adjectives with the verb ESTAR.

🇪🇸 Sofía está muy alegre hoy.
🇬🇧 Sofía is cheerful today.

🇪🇸 ¿Qué te pasó? ¿Por qué estás tan malo conmigo?
🇬🇧 What’s happened to you? Why are you so mean to me?

🇪🇸 Pedro hoy está tímido porque hay mucha gente que no conoce. 
🇬🇧 Pedro is shy because there are many people he doesn’t know.

Going beyond the basics – how to describe personality in Spanish with precision

When it comes to describing personality and talking about our virtues and vices, the array of possibilities is much wider than the initial 12 essential words.

🇪🇸 Las Virtudes – 🇬🇧 Virtues🇪🇸 Los Defectos – 🇬🇧 Vices
🇪🇸 confiable – 🇬🇧 trustworthy
🇪🇸 amable – 🇬🇧 kind
🇪🇸 responsable – 🇬🇧 responsible
🇪🇸 ahorrativo – 🇬🇧 thrifty
🇪🇸 respetuoso – 🇬🇧 respectful
🇪🇸 considerado – 🇬🇧 considerate
🇪🇸 bien educado / cortés – 🇬🇧 polite
🇪🇸 paciente – 🇬🇧 patient
🇪🇸 relajado – 🇬🇧 relaxed
🇪🇸 estudioso – 🇬🇧 studious
🇪🇸 fiel / leal – 🇬🇧 loyal
🇪🇸 gracioso – 🇬🇧 funny / gracious
🇪🇸 ingenioso – 🇬🇧 ingenious
🇪🇸 listo – 🇬🇧 smart
🇪🇸 sensible – 🇬🇧 sensitive
🇪🇸 sensato – 🇬🇧 sensible
🇪🇸 seguro de sí mismo – 🇬🇧 self-confident
🇪🇸 valiente – 🇬🇧 brave
🇪🇸 trabajador – 🇬🇧 hard-working
🇪🇸 eficiente – 🇬🇧 efficient
🇪🇸 tranquilo – 🇬🇧 quiet
🇪🇸 extrovertido – 🇬🇧 outgoing
🇪🇸 creativo – 🇬🇧 creative
🇪🇸 cariñoso – 🇬🇧 affectionate
🇪🇸 persistente – 🇬🇧 persistent
🇪🇸 mal educado– 🇬🇧 rude
🇪🇸 mandón – 🇬🇧 bossy
🇪🇸 mentiroso – 🇬🇧 liar
🇪🇸 aburrido – 🇬🇧 boring
🇪🇸 egoista – 🇬🇧 selfish
🇪🇸 testarudo – 🇬🇧 stubborn
🇪🇸 malcriado – 🇬🇧 spoiled, naughty
🇪🇸 presumido – 🇬🇧 smug
🇪🇸 envidioso – 🇬🇧 envious
🇪🇸 cobarde – 🇬🇧 cowardly
🇪🇸 gruñon- 🇬🇧 grumpy
🇪🇸 tacaño – 🇬🇧 stingy
🇪🇸 entrometido – 🇬🇧 intrusive
🇪🇸 provocador – 🇬🇧 provocative
🇪🇸 mañoso – 🇬🇧 fussy, picky
🇪🇸 caprichoso – 🇬🇧 moody
🇪🇸 arrogante – 🇬🇧 arrogant
🇪🇸 distraído – 🇬🇧 absent-minded
🇪🇸 travieso – 🇬🇧 mischievous (about a child)
🇪🇸 asustadizo – 🇬🇧 easily-frightened
🇪🇸 impulsivo – 🇬🇧 impulsive
🇪🇸 bruto – 🇬🇧 rough
🇪🇸 agresivo – 🇬🇧 aggressive
🇪🇸 enojón – 🇬🇧 cranky
🇪🇸 irritable – 🇬🇧 irritable

As you can see, some of these words are very similar to English. Spanish is packed with these so-called “cognates,” which makes it easy to learn and an excellent second language choice

Watch out for false cognates, though. 

Now, how about a little guessing game?

I am going to describe one of these personality traits in Spanish. Your job will be to find the right name for it. 

Ready? Let’s s start:

1. 🇪🇸 Alguien que nunca se estresa.
🇬🇧 Someone who never gets stressed. 

2. 🇪🇸 A esta persona no le gusta gastar dinero.
🇬🇧 This person doesn’t like spending money.

3. 🇪🇸 Alguien que piensa solo en sí mismo, no le importan los demás.
🇬🇧 Someone who only thinks about themselves and doesn’t care about others. 

4. 🇪🇸 Alguien que nunca dice “gracias” ni “por favor”.
🇬🇧 Someone who never says “thank you” or “please.”

5. 🇪🇸 Esta persona no te abandonará nunca. 
🇬🇧 This person will never abandon you.

6. 🇪🇸 Alguien que se cree mejor que todos los demás. 
🇬🇧 Someone who thinks they are better than others.

7. 🇪🇸 Alguien que cambia de humor a cada rato. 
🇬🇧 Someone who changes their mood all the time. 

The correct answers are:

  1. 🇪🇸 relajado – 🇬🇧 relaxed
  2. 🇪🇸 tacaño – 🇬🇧 stingy
  3. 🇪🇸 egoista – 🇬🇧 selfish
  4. 🇪🇸 mal educado – 🇬🇧 rude
  5. 🇪🇸 leal, fiel – 🇬🇧 loyal
  6. 🇪🇸 presumido – 🇬🇧 smug
  7. 🇪🇸 caprichoso – 🇬🇧 moody

Personality traits in Spanish – essential grammar rules

As a teacher, I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t explain some basic grammar rules you have to bear in mind when describing someone’s personality with the use of adjectives

For native English speakers who are just starting to learn Spanish, one of the most important differences between these two languages – which in fact leads to common mistakes – is the fact that Spanish adjectives have gender, and they pluralize. 

What does it mean?

It means two things:

  1. You will have to adjust the form of certain adjectives depending on the gender of the person you are describing. Have a look:

Pablo es tímido. – masculine form

María es tímida. – feminine form

Mi abuelo es muy gruñón. – masculine form

Mi vecina es muy gruñona. – feminine form

Luckily, you don’t have to adjust the gender of all adjectives. Only the ones that finish with an  “O,” “ÓN” and “OR.” The other ones keep the same form independently if the person is a woman or a man:

Juan es responsable.

Lorena es responsable.

Pedro es muy leal.

María es muy leal.

  1. You also need to remember about changing singular to plural if you are describing more than one person. There are no exceptions to this rule. The plural form in Spanish requires you to add “-s” after a vowel or “-es” after a consonant

Have a look at what different adjectives describing personality traits in Spanish will look like when you change them from singular to plural:

SINGULARPLURAL
MASCULINEtravieso
trabajador
gruñón
leal
eficiente
traviesos
trabajadores
gruñones
leales
eficientes
FEMININEtraviesa
trabajadora
gruñona
leal
eficiente
traviesas
trabajadoras
gruñonas
leales
eficientes

Using Spanish Personality Traits in Context

When do we talk about personality in real life? 

There are so many different situations! Just to name a few:

  • when we make evaluations (laboral or psychological),
  • when we gossip or complain about others,
  • when we talk about what we’d like to change about ourselves,
  • when we express our appreciation,
  • in resumes and job ads.

Do you want to see some examples?


🇪🇸 Mónica es una niña muy desordenada.
🇬🇧 Mónica is a very messy girl. 

🇪🇸 Nicolás es la persona más generosa que conozco.
🇬🇧 Nicolás is the most generous person I know. 

🇪🇸 Buscamos a alguien confiable y responsable.
🇬🇧 We are looking for someone trustworthy and responsible. 

🇪🇸 Ojalá no fueras tan testarudo.
🇬🇧 I wish you weren’t so stubborn. 

🇪🇸 Si fueras menos gruñón, tendrías más amigos. 
🇬🇧 If you were less grumpy, you’d have more friends. 

🇪🇸 Quisiera ser más extrovertida.
🇬🇧 I’d like to be more outgoing. 

🇪🇸 Soy creativo e ingenioso.
🇬🇧 I am creative and ingenious. 

🇪🇸 No puedes ser tan bruto o nunca encontrarás una novia.
🇬🇧 You can’t be so rough (such a brute), or you’ll never find a girlfriend.

🇪🇸 Buscamos a alguien confiable y responsable.
🇬🇧 We are looking for someone trustworthy and responsible. 

🇪🇸 No puedes ser tan tacaño. Te corresponde a tí pagar esta vez.
🇬🇧 You can’t be so stingy. It is your turn to pay this time.

🇪🇸 Rompí con mi novio porque era demasiado celoso. 
🇬🇧 I broke up with my boyfriend because he was too jealous. 

🇪🇸 Eres demasiado impulsivo, debes trabajar en eso. 
🇬🇧 You’re too impulsive; you have to work on that. 

🇪🇸 Los que trabajan con Pedro se quejan de que es muy engreído.
🇬🇧 Those who work with Pedro complain about him being very arrogant. 

🇪🇸 El señor Gonzales no es tan trabajador como pensábamos. Además, es bastante impuntual. 
🇬🇧 Mr. Gonzales is not as hard-working as we thought. Besides, he is quite unpunctual. 

Muy, Bastante, Demasiado and Other Adverbs to take Personality Traits in Spanish to a Whole New Level 

Have you noticed that a personality trait can have different degrees? 

You can be really lazy or a little lazy.

Very patient, quite patient, or extremely patient. 

What are some common adverbs of degree in Spanish?

  • 🇪🇸 demasiado arrogante – 🇬🇧 too arrogant
  • 🇪🇸 extremadamente cariñoso  – 🇬🇧 extremely affectionate
  • 🇪🇸 muy testarudo  – 🇬🇧 very stubborn
  • 🇪🇸 bastante eficiente  – 🇬🇧 quite efficient
  • 🇪🇸 igual de alegre como – 🇬🇧 as happy as
  • 🇪🇸 un poco inmaduro  – 🇬🇧 a little immature
  • 🇪🇸 más responsable que antes  – 🇬🇧 more responsible than before
  • 🇪🇸 ya no tan cobarde – 🇬🇧 not so cowardly anymore
  • 🇪🇸 mucho más / menos celoso  – 🇬🇧 much more / less jealous

Using these kinds of adverb-adjective combinations will not only help improve your Spanish proficiency level but also allow you to participate in any conversation about personality traits. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Qué te gustaría cambiar de tí mismo?
B: Quisiera ser menos irritable y un poco más persistente. 
🇬🇧
A: What would you like to change about yourself?
B: I’d like to be less irritable and a little more persistent. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Mamá, qué opinas de Andrés?
B: Honestamente, es mucho más simpático y respetuoso que tu ex-novio.
🇬🇧
A: Mom, what do you think about Andres?
B: Honestly, he is much nicer and more respectful than your ex-boyfriend. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Por qué crees que deberíamos contratarte?
B: Porque soy extremadamente eficiente, bastante autónomo y muy poco exigente.
🇬🇧
A: Why do you think we should hire you?
B: Because I am extremely efficient, quite autonomous and very low-maintenance. 

🇪🇸
A: No has cambiado nada con los años. Sigues igual de inmaduro como antes. 
B: Y tú has cambiado mucho. Antes no eras tan quejona. 
🇬🇧
A: You haven’t changed a bit in all these years. You’re still as immature as before. 
B: And you have changed a lot. You weren’t such a moaner before. 

Personality Traits in Spanish – How to Make Opposites with Prefixes

Since Spanish and English share common roots, it should come as no surprise that many antonyms are formed using similar Latin prefixes that appear in English.

Many negative personality traits can be created in the same way:

IN- 

🇪🇸 tolerante – intolerante
🇬🇧 tolerant- intolerant

🇪🇸 seguro – inseguro
🇬🇧 confident – insecure

🇪🇸 eficiente- ineficiente
🇬🇧 efficient- inefficient

🇪🇸 quieto – inquieto
🇬🇧 quiet- restless

🇪🇸 sensible – insensible 
🇬🇧 sensitive- insensitive

🇪🇸 maduro – inmaduro
🇬🇧 mature- immature

IR-

🇪🇸 responsable – irresponsable
🇬🇧 mature- immature

🇪🇸 racional – irracional
🇬🇧 rational – irrational

Don’t let yourself be misguided, though. The fact that a personality trait starts with an “IR” in Spanish doesn’t always mean you can take it away and form the opposite word.

🇪🇸 irritable – 🇬🇧 cranky

or

🇪🇸 irónico – 🇬🇧 ironic

are just words on their own. 

DES- 

🇪🇸 honesto – deshonesto
🇬🇧 honest – dishonest 

🇪🇸 considerado – desconsiderado
🇬🇧 considerate – inconsiderate

🇪🇸 confiado- desconfiado
🇬🇧 trustful – distrustful

🇪🇸 cuidadoso – descuidado
🇬🇧 careful – careless

🇪🇸 obediente- desobediente
🇬🇧 obedient – disobedient

🇪🇸 ordenado – desordenado
🇬🇧 tidy – messy

Let’s see how these words work in sentences:

🇪🇸 De chico era muy confiado, pero la vida me ha enseñado a ser más desconfiado.
🇬🇧 When I was a child, I used to be very trusty, but life has taught me to be more distrustful.

🇪🇸 Juan es ultra intolerante con las opiniones de otras personas.
🇬🇧 Juan is super intolerant with other people’s opinions. 

🇪🇸 Deberías tomar el ejemplo de tu hermana. Ella es tan cuidadosa y tú tan descuidada.
🇬🇧 You should take your sister’s example. She is so careful, and you are so careless.

🇪🇸 Si sigues así de irresponsable e inmaduro, nunca conseguirás un trabajo.
🇬🇧 If you keep on being so irresponsible and immature, you’ll never get a job. 

Playing with Words- How to Change Personality Traits from Adjectives to Nouns

Do you like word games? 

I simply love them! As a teacher, I can tell you they are one of the best ways to build your Spanish vocabulary. Another one – of course –  is reading books in Spanish, which you can start doing even if you are still an A-level student. 

The first thing we can do with adjectives describing personality traits is to turn them into concept nouns:

🇪🇸 amable – la amabilidad
🇬🇧 kind – kindness

🇪🇸 celoso – los celos
🇬🇧 jealous – jealousy

🇪🇸 alegre – la alegría
🇬🇧 happy – happiness

🇪🇸 sencillo – la sencillez
🇬🇧 simple – simplicity

🇪🇸 generoso – la generosidad
🇬🇧 generous- generosity

🇪🇸 flojo- la flojera
🇬🇧 lazy – laziness

🇪🇸 inseguro- la inseguridad
🇬🇧 insecure – insecurity

🇪🇸 bien educado – la buena educación
🇬🇧 polite – politeness

🇪🇸 irónico – la ironía
🇬🇧 ironic – irony

🇪🇸 tolerante – la tolerancia
🇬🇧 tolerant – tolerance

🇪🇸 tranquilo – la tranquilidad
🇬🇧 quiet, tranquil- tranquility

Do you think you could use these new nouns in context? 

I’ll give you a hand:

🇪🇸 Lo que más me gusta de Francisco es su amabilidad y su tranquilidad.
🇬🇧 What I like the most about Francisco are his kindness and his tranquility.

🇪🇸 Tu falta de tolerancia es lo que hace que la gente se aleje de tí.
🇬🇧 Your lack of tolerance is what makes people pull away from you. 

🇪🇸 La generosidad es una virtud poco vista en el mundo de hoy.
🇬🇧 Generosity is a virtue you don’t see too often in today’s world. 

🇪🇸 Creo que la ironía con la que Jorge trata a la gente es su mecanismo de defensa.
🇬🇧 I think the irony Jorge treats people with is his defense mechanism.

🇪🇸 Mis padres me han enseñado que la buena educación abre muchas puertas.
🇬🇧 My parents have taught me that politeness opens many doors. 

🇪🇸 Tienes que luchar contra tus inseguridades antes de que se transformen en fobias. 
🇬🇧 You have to fight against your insecurities before they turn into phobias. 

***

That’s all for today, folks! I hope you enjoyed today’s post. 

With all the tips and examples, you’ll soon be able to talk about personality traits in Spanish like a pro!

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Joanna Lupa

Joanna Lupa

Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.