Amazingly Useful Chinese Adjectives to Describe a Person

appearance in chinese

Okay, admit it — getting beyond a basic “你好” (nǐhǎo — hello) and “很高兴认识你” (hěn gāoxìng rènshi nǐ — nice to meet you) sometimes feels a bit like climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops. So today, we’re ditching the boring basics and opening a whole new world of descriptive Chinese words. Get ready to say goodbye to dull conversations and hello to painting vivid pictures of people with your words.

Think of it like this. Knowing how to say someone has a great sense of style or a mischievous personality (in Chinese, of course) is the language equivalent of upgrading from crayons to a full-blown art set. Imagine describing your friend’s outfit as “超有型 (chāo yǒuxíng)” — super stylish — instead of a plain “好看 (hǎokàn)” — good-looking. Or, picture yourself telling someone their laugh is “太可爱了 (tài kě’ài le)” — way too cute — instead of just “好笑 (hǎoxiào)” — funny. 

Suddenly, your Chinese conversations become way more interesting, and you can start to express yourself with more nuance. This is where mastering the art of describing appearances in Chinese comes in.

Knowing how to say someone is “高大帅气 (gāodà shuàiqi)” — tall, strong, and handsome – or “苗条漂亮 (miáotiao piàoliang)” — slim and pretty — is a great foundation, but we’ll also explore some lesser-known gems to paint an even more vivid picture.

Looks matter (even in Chinese!)

Appearances do count — even when you’re speaking Chinese. But instead of sticking to the same old “高” (gāo — tall) or “漂亮” (piàoliang — pretty), it’s time to expand your vocabulary arsenal. Think of it as adding some spice to your language stir-fry.

Here’s a taste of some fun ways to describe appearances in Chinese:

  • 苗条 (miáotiáo): This means slim and slender and has a positive vibe.
  • Example: “你最近减肥了吗?看起来很苗条!” (Nǐ zuìjìn jiǎnféi le ma? Kàn qǐlai hěn miáotiao!) — Have you lost weight recently? You look very slim!
  • 健壮 (jiànzhuàng): Use this to describe someone who’s strong and fit, with a hint of muscularity.
  • Example: “哇,你一直在锻炼吗?身材超健壮!” (Wā, nǐ yīzhí zài duànliàn ma? Shēncái chāo jiànzhuàng!) — Wow, have you been working out? You look really fit!
  • 有型 (yǒuxíng): Think of this as the Chinese equivalent of “stylish” or “fashionable”.
  • Example: “你的新发型太有型了!” (Nǐ de xīn fàxíng tài yǒuxíng le!) — Your new haircut is super stylish!

A little playful teasing?

Of course, you can also use these adjectives with a touch of playful humor. Be mindful of your tone and the person you’re talking to so it doesn’t come across as mean-spirited.

  • Example: “嗯,看来最近伙食不错啊,挺健壮的!” (Ǹ, kànlái zuìjìn huǒshí bùcuò a, tǐng jiànzhuàng de!) — Hmm, looks like someone’s been eating well lately, you’re looking quite strong!
  • Example: “咦,最近没见着你,怎么变苗条了这么多?” (Yì, zuìjìn méi jiànzháo nǐ, zěnme biàn miáotiao le zhème duō?) — Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while, how did you get so slim?

Related Reading: The Influence of Chinese Pop Culture on Language Learning

It’s what’s inside that counts… describe it in Chinese!

describe it in Chinese

Okay, now we’re getting to the juicy stuff — personality. This is where you can really impress your friends with your newfound Chinese descriptive powers. Let’s break it down into some fun categories.

The positive peeps

Want to describe those awesome people who always brighten your day? These choice Chinese adjectives will help you spread the good vibes and pinpoint exactly what makes them so special.

  • 幽默 (yōumò): This is your go-to word for someone who’s naturally funny and can make you laugh.
  • Example: “小明超幽默的,他讲的笑话都好好笑!” (Xiǎomíng chāo yōumò de, tā jiǎng de xiàohuà dōu hǎohǎo xiào!) — Xiao Ming is hilarious, his jokes always crack me up!
  • 聪明 (cōngming): This means “smart” or “clever,” the kind of person who’s always figuring things out.
  • Example: “我的同事很聪明,有什么不懂的问题都可以问她。” (Wǒ de tóngshì hěn cōngming, yǒu shénme bù dǒng de wèntí dōu kěyǐ wèn tā.) — My colleague is super smart, I can always ask her if I have questions.
  • 友好 (yǒuhǎo): Use this for someone who’s warm, friendly, and easy to get along with.
  • Example: “班上的新同学看起来挺友好的。” (Bān shàng de xīn tóngxué kàn qǐlai tǐng yǒuhǎo de.) — The new classmate in our class seems really friendly.

The quirky bunch (use with caution…)

Let’s be honest; everyone has their quirks. Sometimes, quirks are endearing, and sometimes, they make you chuckle. Get ready to describe those unique characters in your life with a mix of affection and playful teasing (but make sure they have a good sense of humor first!).

  • 固执 (gùzhi): This means stubborn in a slightly negative way. Think of that friend who refuses to change their mind (we all know one).
  • Example: “他有时候太固执了,很难说服他。” (Tā yǒu shíhou tài gùzhi le, hěn nán shuōfú tā.) — He’s so stubborn sometimes, it’s hard to convince him of anything.
  • 害羞 (hàixiū): The classic word for “shy”. It can be endearing, but watch your tone!
  • Example: “我刚认识她的时候,她还有点儿害羞。” (Wǒ gāng rènshi tā de shíhou, tā hái yǒudiǎnr hàixiū.) — When I first met her, she was a little bit shy.
  • 小气 (xiǎoqi): This means “stingy” or “cheap”… definitely use this one carefully.
  • Example: “别那么小气嘛,请我喝杯咖啡吧!” (Bié nàme xiǎoqi ma, qǐng wǒ hē bēi kāfēi ba!) — Don’t be such a cheapskate, buy me a coffee!

It’s all about context

Remember, the same word can be used in a positive, neutral, or slightly teasing way, depending on how you say it and your relationship with the person. Just like in English, tone of voice matters a lot in Chinese!

Related Reading: Mastering Tones: Advanced Techniques for Perfect Mandarin Pronunciation

How to say ‘good looking’ in Chinese (and nuances to master)

How to say ‘good looking’ in Chinese

Alright, here’s the part you’ve probably been waiting for. While you can use “好看” (hǎokàn) to say someone is good-looking, there’s more to it than that. Chinese draws finer distinctions, so let’s make you a “good-looking” vocabulary pro.

  • 漂亮 (piàoliang): This one is primarily used for women and girls. It implies a kind of delicate, feminine beauty.
  • Example: “你今天穿的裙子很漂亮!” (Nǐ jīntiān chuān de qúnzi hěn piàoliang!) – The dress you’re wearing today is very pretty!
  • 帅 (shuài): Think of this as the Chinese version of “handsome” for men. It has a touch of coolness or charisma to it.
  • Example: “哇,那个新来的男生好帅啊!” (Wā, nèige xīn lái de nánshēng hǎo shuài a!) — Wow, that new guy is so handsome!
  • 好看 (hǎokàn): This is your safest and most versatile bet. It means “good-looking” or “attractive” in a general sense. You can use it for anyone without worrying about the gendered connotations.
  • Example: “我觉得你弟弟长得挺好看!” (Wǒ juéde nǐ dìdi zhǎng de tǐng hǎokàn!) — I think your younger brother is quite good-looking!

Bonus round: beyond the basics

Ready to level up your “good-looking” game? These words will help you describe people (or kittens) with even more precision and style!

  • 可爱 (kě’ài): “Cute” and can be used for people of all ages, especially kids and those with a youthful vibe.
  • Example 1: “你的小猫太可爱了!” (Nǐ de xiǎomāo tài kě’ài le!) — Your kitten is so cute!
  • Example 2: “小孩子的笑容总是那么可爱。” (Xiǎo háizi de xiàoróng zǒngshì nàme kě’ài.) – Children’s smiles are always so adorable.
  • 有气质 (yǒu qìzhì): Implies elegance, sophistication, or a unique presence.
  • Example 1: “我觉得她很有气质,特别有魅力。” (Wǒ juéde tā hěn yǒu qìzhì, tèbié yǒu mèilì.) — I think she’s very elegant and has a special kind of charm.
  • Example 2: “那个老爷爷很有气质,穿西装的样子真帅气。” (Nàge lǎo yéye hěn yǒu qìzhì, chuān xīzhuāng de yàngzi zhēn shuàiqì.) — That old gentleman has such refined style, he looks so handsome in a suit.
  • 时髦 (shímáo): This means “fashionable” or “trendy.” Perfect for that friend who always seems effortlessly stylish.
  • Example: “你穿的衣服超时髦的,在哪里买的?” (Nǐ chuān de yīfu chāo shímáo de, zài nǎli mǎi de?) — Your outfit is super fashionable; where did you get it?

Related Reading: First Dates: Tips for Communicating with a Chinese Date

Spice up your Chinese: time to put your new skills to the test!

Of course, learning all these cool Chinese adjectives to describe a person is no fun if you don’t actually USE them! It’s time to take those new words out for a spin. Start paying extra attention to describing appearances in Chinese and the types of personalities around you.

Try to slip in at least a few of your newly gained descriptive gems into your next Chinese conversation. You might just surprise yourself (and your friends) with how much more expressive you sound.

Think this is fun? Imagine how awesome it would be to have a massive vocabulary for describing everything in Chinese — from people to moods, places to experiences. That’s where true fluency lies, and it’s way closer than you think. Want to see how close?

Take the FREE Mandarin Fluency Scorecard and get a personalized roadmap to reaching your Chinese goals — it takes less than a minute! This quick assessment will pinpoint your strengths, uncover hidden weaknesses, and give you the exact next step to take on your language learning journey.

So, what are you waiting for? Click below and claim your free custom report — start unlocking your true Chinese potential today!

Yes! Take the Scorecard!