English Vocabulary Words for Personality & Character

This is a free sample lesson from Level 1 of the Vocabulary Builder Course.


There are many different aspects of personality and character, and we have many different words in English to describe them!


smartLet’s start with a person’s intelligence. A very common word to describe an intelligent person is smart. There is also the word clever – that refers to someone who is intelligent in a creative way; a clever person can create unique and unexpected solutions to problems. And someone who has life experience, lots of knowledge, and the ability to make good decisions is wise.

The opposite of smart is stupid or dumb – be careful with these words, as they are strong and insulting! The opposite of wise is foolish – that’s a person who doesn’t have common sense, and who does things that are not a good idea.

Work Ethic

A person’s work ethic is their attitude towards work. Companies want to hire people who are hard-working, reliable (meaning you can depend on them; you know they will get things done) and diligent (applies persistent effort).


There’s also the word ambitious – meaning someone who strongly desires a lot of success. That can be considered a good or bad trait. An ambitious person can have the potential to achieve great things in an honest way… or they might be the type of person who will be dishonest and hurt others in order to get money and power.


The opposite of hard-working is lazy – a person who is not active and doesn’t like to do work or make an effort. The opposite of reliable is unreliable – you can’t have certainty that an unreliable person will do their work. Another bad characteristic for a worker is being careless – that’s the opposite of careful. A careless person doesn’t pay attention or focus, increasing the possibility of making mistakes.


arrogantA person who has TOO much confidence in themselves, and who considers themselves superior to others, is arrogant – and someone who cares too much about their appearance is vain. The opposite of arrogant is humble – someone who is modest and who does not call attention to their own greatness.

People’s confidence affects the way they make decisions. Someone who is decisive makes strong, firm decisions and is confident in their choices. The opposite is an indecisive or wishy-washy person – someone who feels insecure (not confident) and has difficulty making final decisions, or who constantly goes back and forth from one option to another without committing. An insecure person may also be rather sensitive (meaning their feelings are easily hurt).

Social Relations

socialThe way you react to social situations is another major element of your personality. Someone who is outgoing or extroverted LOVES being in social situations and interacting with other people. Outgoing people are often talkative or chatty – meaning they talk a lot. The opposite is someone who is reserved or shy – this is a quieter person who doesn’t like being the center of attention. The word “shy” is stronger than “reserved.”

As for the way you treat other people, it’s good to be kind (someone who treats others well), nice (pleasant and friendly), and considerate (someone who thinks about other peoples’ feelings and tries not to hurt them).


The opposite of kind is mean or nasty (someone who treats other people badly). An even stronger word is cruel – a person who intentionally causes others to suffer. And it’s also not good to be rude or inconsiderate – meaning someone who is not polite, and who doesn’t think about others’ feelings.


When someone irritates you, do you get angry easily? Someone who quickly gets angry is short-tempered. The opposite is to be patient and easy-going – an easy-going person is relaxed, flexible, and easy to relate to.



generousThere are also words to describe a person’s attitude towards money and resources. Someone who likes to share and give away their money, time, and possessions is generous – and someone who prefers to keep everything for themselves is selfish. Another word, stingy, is used specifically for a person who hates spending or giving money. And a person who wants to have much more than is necessary or appropriate is greedy.


Finally, how can we talk about the ways a person reacts to challenges and difficulties? Someone who loves having new experiences is adventurous, and someone with a lot of courage is brave. An even stronger word for “brave” is fearless – someone who seems never to be afraid!


The opposite of being brave is being a coward – someone who has no courage – but we often use slang expressions, for example, saying the person is “a chicken” or “a wimp” or to say the person “doesn’t have the guts” to do something.


Pronunciation Practice

smart, clever, wise, stupid, dumb, foolish, hard-working, reliable, diligent, ambitious, lazy, unreliable, careless, arrogant, vain, humble, decisive, indecisive, wishy-washy, insecure, sensitive, outgoing, extroverted, talkative, chatty, reserved, shy, kind, nice, considerate, mean, nasty, cruel, rude, inconsiderate, short-tempered, patient, easy-going, generous, selfish, stingy, greedy, adventurous, brave, fearless, coward, chicken, wimp, doesn’t have the guts

Download the Worksheet

Vocabulary Practice

E-mail me your answers at !

  1. Who is the smartest person you know?
  2. Do you consider yourself ambitious? Why or why not?
  3. How would you try to motivate a friend who is lazy?
  4. Have you ever worked with someone who was unreliable? How did you handle the situation?
  5. Are you typically more decisive or indecisive? Have you ever regretted a decision you made?
  6. Are you more outgoing or more reserved?
  7. Who is the most talkative person you know?
  8. Describe an act of kindness that you have done for someone (or someone has done for you).
  9. Do you know anyone who is mean or rude?
  10. Describe a situation you have experienced in which you had to be brave.

This is a free sample lesson from Level 1 of the Vocabulary Builder Course.

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