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Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous is an important verb form for talking about recent events and their durations. Read about the rules for using the present perfect continuous tense, how we form it, and tons of example sentences!

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Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect is an important verb form for describing events in the past. Read about the rules for using the past perfect tense, how we form it, and tons of example sentences!

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Pronouns in English

Pronouns are among the most common and important words in English.  Pronouns can be difficult because we use different ones for different parts of speech. This post teaches all the types of pronouns with charts and examples.

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Simple Past Tense

The simple past is a very common English verb tense used to talk about actions that happened at a specific time in the past. Read about the rules for using it, how we form it, and tons of example sentences!

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Describing People in English

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Describing People in English

In this post we introduce over 40 vocabulary words for describing people in English, along with 6 sentence frames to use them in. The first three sentence frames are basic (level A1). The other three are a little more advanced (level A2-B1). All of the vocabulary is basic (levels A1 to A2). (If you don't know what A1 and A2 and B1 and B2 mean, learn about the CEFR!)

Note: Reading this article in English will be difficult for A1 and A2 students. We will soon translate this article into many different languages!


What is a Sentence Frame?

Sentence frames are a really useful way to learn how we speak English. A sentence frame is a sentence with an empty slot that many different words can go in for many different situations. For example, if you learn the sentence frame I feel [ADJECTIVE], you can make hundreds of different sentences. All you need to do is learn a new adjective that fits in that slot: I feel hungry. I feel tired. I feel angry. I feel sick. At a basic level, sentence frames are a great way to learn English!


Frame #1 - Basic Sentences for Describing People

The first three sentence frames we will look at are simple sentences. One of the most common ways to describe people is with adjectives: tall, short, fat, skinny, pretty, handsome, ugly. To use these common adjectives in a sentence, try this frame:

The man is [ADJECTIVE].

The man is tall. The man is fat. The man is ugly. The man is in shape. These are all good sentences in English. 

It is important to know that The man is another slot that you can change. The woman is tall. My friend is tall. My dad is tall. Jane is tall. She is tall. You can put any person in that slot.

Now let’s take a look at some adjectives describing people that can fit into this slot:

Adjectives to Describe People in English
Word Pronunciation Definition
tall /tɔl/ greater in height than the average person; not short
short /ʃɔrt/ lesser in height than the average person; not tall
thin /θɪn/ not having lots of extra flesh; not fat
fat /fæt/ having lots of extra flesh; not thin
old /oʊld/ having lived many years; not young
young /jʌŋ/ not having lived many years; not old
in shape /ɪn ʃeɪp/ healthy and physically strong
out of shape /aʊt ʌv ʃeɪp/ not healthy or physically strong
beautiful /ˈbjutəfəl/ attractive; good looking (mainly for females)
ugly /ˈʌgli/ not attractive; not good looking
handsome /ˈhænsəm/ attractive; good-looking (usually for males)
bald /bɔld/ not having hair on the top of the head

 Frame #2 - Basic Sentences Describing Features

The next basic sentence frame for describing people in English focuses on a specific feature: glasses, curly hair, black hair, blue eyes, a mustache, a ponytail. To talk about a person’s features, use this sentence:

The woman has [FEATURE].

With this sentence frame, you can make lots of different sentences:The woman has curly hair. The woman has glasses. The woman has long hair. The woman has a ponytail.

Again, you can change the person slot as well: The man has long hair. My friend has long hair. My sister has long hair. Clara has long hair.

Here are some features (nouns or nouns with adjectives) that can fit into this sentence frame:


Frame #3 - Basic Sentences Describing Clothes

The last sentence we will talk about for describing people focuses on clothes. Who doesn’t love clothes!? Black shoes! Gray pants! Blue ties! Green skirts! But let’s make complete sentences with them. Here is the sentence frame:

The woman is wearing [CLOTHES].

And here is a list of clothes that can go into this sentence:

All of these clothing items can be used with color words to be even more descriptive. The woman is wearing black shoes. The man is wearing a yellow tie.


So, those three sentence frames, combined with this vocabulary, allow you to make hundreds of different sentences to describe people. If you are a beginner, and this is mostly new information for you, you can stop here.

But, if you know most of this stuff, and you want to learn some more advanced English sentences, read on!

 

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Complex Sentence Frames Describing People

The first three frames talked about nouns, features, and clothes, in that order, right? The next three frames will be used to talk about the same three things, but in a more complex way. All of the same vocabulary from the sections above can be used with the next three frames, in the same order. 

In the first three sentence frames, the main idea of each sentence was describing people. The sentences were about describing people. The thing that I want to tell you about the man is that he is tall. But sometimes we want to describe people in a sentence about something else, and the description is not the most important idea in the sentence. For example, maybe I want to tell you that the man is my neighbor, but I also want to mention that he is tall. These next sentence frames will help in situations like that. 


Frame #4 - Adjectives Before Nouns

Let’s use that example. The I want to tell you that the man is my neighbor, and I also want to describe him as tall. I can put the adjective before the noun: The tall man is my neighbor. You can also put any of the other adjectives from above into that slot.

The [ADJECTIVE] man is my neighbor.

The handsome man is my neighbor. The old man is my neighbor. The fat man is my neighbor. And again, the end of the sentence (which we call the predicate) is a slot, too, and you can put different verbs in there: The tall man likes football. The tall man is eating. The tall man has a car.


Frame #5 - Features and With

If you want to talk about someone’s features in that same sentence, we need to use the preposition with. We could say The man with glasses is my neighbor. Any of the other features can go into that same slot:

The man with [FEATURE] is my neighbor.

The man with red hair is my neighbor. The man with a mustache is my neighbor.


Frame #6 - Clothing and in 

When we want to talk about clothes, we need another preposition. Instead of with, we use in. The man in the blue shirt is my neighbor. Any of the clothing vocabulary above can go into that same slot:

The man in [CLOTHES] is my neighbor.

The man in the tie is my neighbor. The man in the grey pants is my neighbor. The woman in the red hat is my neighbor.


Wrap-Up

That's it! Study these six sentence frames and the vocabulary, and you can now make hundreds of new sentences to describe people! Check back soon and we'll have a quiz to check what you have learned!

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Rob Sheppard is the founder and Chief Executive Teacher at Ginseng. Over the past ten years, he has taught English in Taiwan, South Korea, and his hometown of Boston. Now he teaches online at Ginseng while traveling the world.

You can email Rob at rob@ginse.ng.


More free English Vocabulary Resources

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Simple Present Tense

The simple present is the most common and useful verb tense in English. It is used to talk about repeated actions and to describe people or states of being. Read about the rules for using the simple present tense, how we form it, and tons of example sentences!

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Parts of a Laptop

English Vocabulary - Parts of a Laptop

Today lets learn English words to talk about parts of a laptop. As you may know, a laptop is a computer you can close like a book and take with you. Larger computers that you cannot take with you are called desktops, because they sit on top of a desk. A laptop sits on top of your lap (your lap is the upper part of your legs, which is horizontal when you sit!

The part of the laptop that you look at is called the display. Display is also a verb: your computer displays pictures, videos, and websites. Some people call this a screen, too. Screen is a more general word—your TV has a screen, there is a screen at the movies—but display is better for computers. On most laptops, there is an area around the display that doesn't show pictures, like a frame. We call this the bezel. In the middle of the bezel, above the display, you probably have a webcam: a camera that you can use on the web.

The part of the laptop with the letters is called the keyboard. A board is a flat surface, and this board is covered with buttons called keys; that's why we say keyboard! In front of the keyboard is a touchpad, which you can touch to move your cursor (the arrow on your computer screen).

On the sides of the laptop (not shown in this picture) you may have many different ports to plug in your power cord, headphones, or a USB cord.

More free English resources 

  Parts of a Laptop Computer

Parts of a Laptop Computer

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This That These & Those - Demonstrative Pronouns

In our post earlier this week, we discussed this, that, these, and those as demonstrative determiners. As we discussed, determiners are words that come before nouns to tell us some important information about those nouns. Demonstrative determiners give us information about the quantity and location of the nouns, remember? If we say this apple, we know that there is one apple, and it's right here, but if I say those apples, it usually means many apples, and they are over there.

What is a Demonstrative Pronoun?

Today, we will take a look at another, similar way to use this, that, these, and those. We can also use these words without a noun after them. For example, we can say, "This is a hammer." Here, this doesn't go before the subject of the sentence; it is the subject of the sentence. It works takes the place a noun and represents the thing, the hammer. Words that stand in place of a noun are called pronouns. So in these sentences, thisthat, these, and those are called demonstrative pronouns. See the graphic below for some more examples.

One more time, if they come directly before a noun, this, that, these, and those are called demonstrative determiners. If they replace a noun, acting as a subject or object, they are called demonstrative pronouns.

Notice that the meanings are the same for demonstrative determiners and demonstrative pronouns. This and that are both singular. These and those are both plural. This and these are both for things that are close. That and those are both for things that are over there.

That's all for now. Happy English learning 😉!

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