How do you describe your best friend in English?
You’ve known this person for so long but when someone asks you — maybe the IELTS examiner — you don’t know where to begin. It seems like an impossible task.
But in fact, it is a very simple thing to do. As with anything else you need to break it down into smaller parts. When you look at that great big mountain in front of you and you think to yourself I’ll never get to the top of that, it’s just too high and too far.
Well, of course, you can’t get to the top in one big step. You need to get to the top of the mountain using many small steps. And all of those small steps add up and then after some time, you find yourself way up high on top of the mountain. You did it! You got there!
And that is how you should attempt all your English skills. You just have to break them down into smaller parts and then you can accomplish anything.
Talking about your friend is easy. You know this person very well and you know everything about them. Just don’t talk about every detail at the same time.
Get organised and introduce your friend in smaller sections. Then it makes sense to the listener and they can follow what you are saying and understand you.
Are you ready?
Let’s get into it!
What Does Your Friend Look Like?
The first thing you can talk about is their physical appearance. What they look like.
And even with this part, you need to break it down into smaller parts. I wrote a guide on how to describe someone’s physical appearance here — feel free to take a look.
But we will do some quick practice here and now.
Remember the order when describing someone’s physical appearance:
The Body—height and build
The Head—hair colour and main features of their face; good-looking? Handsome? Pretty?
The Face—eyes, nose, mouth, complexion. Facial hair if they have any!
Body Language—what are their common gestures? What do they always do with their hands or eyes?
The Clothing—what do they usually wear?
I am not saying this is the only way to describe someone’s physical appearance; I am just saying this is a system I would use. I think it works very well — but if you have other things to add by all means add them. And if you have anything useful to add, please tell me in the comments below.
But let’s take the above system as something we can work with. How do we begin?
Height and Build
So you can describe your friend’s body. No need to go into too much detail here. We don’t need to know exactly how tall they are or their weight.
It would be a little strange to say the following:
My friend is 178cm tall, and he weighs 83.5 kilos.
We don’t need to know that. You could say:
My friend is about average height, maybe the same height as me. And he is a little overweight.
That is enough information to describe your friend’s body.
Other examples are:
My friend is very tall, and she has a beautiful figure.
My best friend is of average height, but he is very muscular as he plays a lot of sport every day.
My friend is a little short, but he has an athletic body because he is always running.
My friend is a bit fat but very tall.
After describing your friend’s height and body shape you can move to his or her head and face.
The first thing you can talk about is their hair.
Hair can be many different colours — black, brown, light brown, dark brown, blonde or red.
It can also be many different styles — short, long, shoulder-length, curly, wavy or straight.
So you could say:
My friend has long beautiful hair, really wavy, and it is a dark brown colour.
My friend’s hair is very short and black.
My friend has curly red hair.
Good-looking, Handsome, Beautiful, Pretty?
You can then give a general description of your friend’s face using one of the above words.
So you could say:
He is quite handsome.
She is very pretty.
He is a good-looking dude.
She is so beautiful.
Be nice! This is your friend you are talking about!
Eyes, Nose, Mouth, Complexion
Now you can go into more details.
When we talk about the eyes, we can say the following:
My friend has deep-set, dark-brown eyes.
She has green eyes, very clear and bright.
He has blue eyes.
She has brown eyes.
For the nose, we can say someone has a big nose, a small nose or a long nose. That is about it for noses.
Then for the mouth, we can say a big mouth or a small mouth.
Sometimes people have a very wide mouth but it may be unkind to say that — instead you can say:
She has a really big beautiful smile.
That sounds much nicer!
And then you can talk about their skin complexion. Complexion can be dark or pale.
If your friend is black or white or brown, you can say that. It helps us to know what your friend looks like.
What does your friend do with his or her hands? Do they have special gestures that only they do? You can talk about that too.
So you can say:
My friend always scratches his head when the teacher asks him a question.
My friend often looks up when she is trying to tell me something.
He always shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head.
She tilts her head to the side when she is trying to remember something.
And then you can give a description of the clothes they wear. If you and your friend are at school, then you probably wear school uniform but you can describe his or her shoes.
She wears these really cool Adidas sports shoes.
He has these great Nike shoes. I think they were quite expensive.
Putting It All Together
So let’s put all of these things together and look at a few examples.
My friend is quite tall and kind of athletic because she is good at sport. She has long black hair and has big eyes. Her eyes are dark brown. She has a small nose and a small mouth too.
She walks in a very elegant way and her gestures are always very refined and slow. She also wears very nice clothes so I think she gives a good impression to people that meet her.
My friend is a little overweight, but he is very strong because he likes to go to the gym. He has short blonde hair and blue eyes. He is always smiling and has a big smile for the world to see.
He sometimes rubs his chin when listening to people. He likes to wear sports clothes.
Why don’t you try?
Describe your friend using the above ways to talk about someone’s appearance.
What about your friend’s personality?
These are the main personality words to use in English:
There are many other ways to talk about your friend’s personality but I think the best way is through telling stories. I wrote an article about this here — please take a look.
But when talking about your friend’s personality you can say his or her personality type — and then provide more details to show their personality type.
I mean like this:
My friend is very shy. So if the teacher asks him a question he finds it difficult to answer and his voice is very quiet. His face turns red and I can see he looks very uncomfortable.
In this example, the speaker shows how their friend is shy by giving a very clear example. Little stories like this can really help you describe the personality of your friend.
Let’s look at another example:
My friend is a very quiet person. She doesn’t like to go to parties, and she prefers to stay indoors and reading. She once told me that her favourite place is the library because it is very quiet and she can just sit down and read all day. I like reading too, but not as much as my friend.
Again, in this example, the speaker shows us how her friend is a quiet person who likes to read. She tells us a little anecdote about her friend going to the library and from that, we can determine that her friend is indeed a very quiet person.
She also makes a comparison between herself and her friend about who likes to read more. This is also very helpful.
How about describing your friend who is confident?
I have a friend who is a very confident person. She is always the first to volunteer for class activities and she has no problem in standing at the front of the class and doing a presentation. I think this could help her in the future.
Can you see how the speaker shows us how confident her friend is by telling us a little story of her friend? You can do the same as this. This is the best way to describe your friend’s personality.
What about a happy and cheerful friend?
My friend is always in a good mood. Every time I see him he is happy and has a big smile on his face. Even when we have lots of homework to do he is smiling. He just says that we have to do and we have no choice. I wish I could be like him.
Telling stories about your friend is the best way to describe their personality.
Give it a try now by yourself. Think of different stories you can tell of different friends to describe their personalities.
How did you meet this friend?
This is something that many English students forget to talk about when describing their friend.
But it is one of the best things you can talk about because quite often there could be a great story behind how you both met.
Things you need to think about for this story
Where — where did you meet? What was the location?
When — when did you meet? Was it in the morning or the evening? Was it at the beginning of a new school year?
How — how did you meet? What was the situation that made you meet each other?
What — what did you say to each other? What was the first thing you spoke about?
Who — who spoke first? Was it you or your friend?
Why — why did you stay in contact with each other after the first meeting? What did you like about this person that made you want to become friends with them for a long time?
Use the above system of questions to create a story of how you met your friend. Then put it all together and practice saying it out loud.
But let me give you an example so you can see how it might work.
I met my best friend Steve at school. We were put in the same class together and we were sitting at the same desk. It was the first day of school and we were both new students — everyone was new — so no one knew each other.
Steve sat next to me because the teacher told him to sit down quickly and the nearest seat was next to me.
The class began, and the teacher asked us to write something in our notebooks. We were writing something then Steve looked at me.
He didn’t know how to spell a word in English. I did, so I helped him.
After the first class, we sat together in the next class. Then it got to lunchtime, and we didn’t know where to go. These other students told us where to go and we went to the canteen together.
We found out that we were both big football fans so we had lots to talk about then.
Since then we have become best friends.
Now you try!
What Things Do You Do Together?
This should be very easy for you. You just describe all the things you like to do together. That could be all your interests. Plus any studying you might do together.
At the weekend what do you like to do together?
Go to see a movie?
Watch a game of sport?
Think about all the activities you do together and talk about those. This provides a very clear description of your friend as you are still talking about this person.
Plus, there are also some stories you can talk about in this part.
Let’s try some examples.
My friend and I are both really crazy about football so at lunchtime at school you can always find us playing football in the playground. At the weekend, we play football in the stadium near where we live. We play in a big team and we have a great coach who teaches us some special football skills.
And of course, we watch football matches. Usually on TV, but sometimes we are lucky to go to a real game. It’s very exciting to see all the spectators cheering the players on.
Me and my friend both love shopping. So every weekend that is what we do. There are two big shopping malls near where we live and we like to go there and just browse around all the shops.
We don’t always buy something — we are not rich! — but we like to look around and see what the latest fashions are. Plus, going to the shopping mall is a great place for people watching. You can see what other girls our age are wearing.
After walking around looking in all the shops we like to sit down and drink some coffee. It’s very relaxing.
Me and my friend James both love tropical fish. I have a tank in my house and James has one in his house too. We love to read up on all the important information on looking after tropical fish. We just think it’s interesting.
There’s a tropical fish shop near where we live and we like to go to this place and check out all the fish and the tanks. They just look amazing.
I hope you can see that to talk about your interests and the things you like to do with your friend is very simple.
You just say what the interest is, where and when you do this thing, and why you like to do it.
Try now — write down a few sentences about the things you like to do with your friend.
What do you like about your friend?
This is your friend you are talking about. There must be plenty of things you like about this person.
Avoid saying simple things like:
He is honest
She is kind
He is very clever
She is interesting
These things don’t really say anything about why you like your friend. They are bland and uninteresting.
Again, like with the other things that you say about your friend, you can use stories.
Let’s look at an example.
I like my friend because he is funny.
One time we were in class and the teacher asked if anyone knew anything about frogs. My friend told us a story about when he went to the park and saw some frogs in the pond. He tried to catch one but fell in the water. He then tried to dry his clothes before getting home by standing in the middle of the park with his arms and legs open wide. He thought the wind would dry his clothes in time but it didn’t work.
It was the way he told us the story that made us all laugh out loud. Even the teacher was laughing.
Or something like this:
I like my friend because he is always trying to help me.
I am not very good at maths and so my friend helps me work out all the maths problems. Whenever we get maths homework, I go to his house and he shows me how to do it.
I think this is very kind of him. He is being very generous with his time.
Why do you like your friend?
What are the qualities you like about your friend?
How does your friend make a difference in your life?
Think about these things and tell the story.
What do you dislike about your friend?
As there are things we like about our friends, there are also things we dislike about them too.
There should not be many things we dislike about them, but certainly, one or two things that get on our nerves at times.
Sometimes my friend bites his nails.
I can’t stand it when he does this because it looks so dirty.
My friend sometimes sends me a message late at night. It really disturbs me but she thinks it is very important.
My friend smokes too much. I think this is really harmful to his health, but he doesn’t listen to me.
You don’t need to go into too much detail about the things you dislike about your friend. But if you can say just one thing that you dislike it provides balance. In the IELTS test, the examiner like to hear opposing views of one thing, so this is helpful to you.
If you follow all the steps, you should be able to create a great description of your friend.
Just remember to follow the system I laid out in this guide.
Personality + Story
How did you meet your friend?
What things do you like to do together?
What do you like about your friend?
What do you dislike about your friend?
This is just a system I created, it is not the only way to do it.
If you have any suggestions, please tell me in the comments below!