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Describing people and objects

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Hi there!

During this lesson we're going to learn how to describe people or objects on the basis of their size, physical appearance, texture, consistency, or what they're made of.

So, here are some of these words which are all adjectives:

Let's start with Big or Large. The word big is used more often than the word large which is more formal, but native English speakers also use many other words to describe how big something is. Here are some examples:

Substantial – Our lunch was quite substantial, so we won't need to have much for dinner.

Sizeable – The house is a bit small, but the garden is quite sizeable.

Great – As in the great wall of China.

Huge – The peaches in Greece are huge and they're also very juicy.

Immense – Politicians have immense power over the population.

Extensive – The library is very extensive and it contains thousands of books.

Spacious – The double room is very spacious so we can put a large wardrobe in it.

Vast – The Sahara desert covers a vast geographical area.

Giant – He took a giant leap over the wide river.

Enormous – We have an enormous amount of business this year with many new customers.

Massive – The bomb created a massive explosion.

Mammoth – That mountain is a mammoth to climb up.

Mighty – I heard a mighty bang last night during the thunderstorm.

Monumental – The sculptures in Mount Rushmore are monumental.

Colossal - In those days the Titanic was a colossal ship.

Then we have the word Small which is the opposite of Big. Note that usually you don't say little to describe something which is small, because you normally only use the word little when talking about quantity, for example: I only speak a little bit of English. And here are some other words which express how small things are:

Microscopic – Those men look microscopic on top of that enormous mountain.

Tiny – Baby hedgehogs are tiny.

Miniscule – That house is miniscule compared with this mansion.

Miniture – I have a collection of miniture bottles.

Mini – I take a mini hair dryer with me whenever I travel.

Petite – Most ballet dancers are very petite.

Wee – I like a wee dram of whisky.

Next, we have the word Hard - Ebony is a very hard type of wood. Then the word Soft is the opposite of hard - Kittens have very soft fur.

Then there's the word Fat. If you speak about a person, it's not polite to say that they're fat, so it's diplomatic to use expressions such as obese or a bit overweight. Here are some other words which describe how fat things, or people are:

Big – She's a bit on the big side right now because she ate too much over Christmas.

Large – He's quite a large guy because he likes cakes a lot.

Paunchy – He's got quite a paunchy belly because he likes a beer or two.

Pudgy – The old woman has a nice pudgy face which is very smiley.

Obese – There are too many obese teenagers in countries which have fast food chains everywhere.

Overweight – I'm slightly overweight at the moment because I haven't been able to do any sport.

Plump – The turkey is nice and plump this Christmas so we can all eat a lot of it.

Chubby – That boy has got short chubby fingers.

Round – She's a bit too round around her hips, because she doesn't do any physical exercise.

Bulging – My belly's bulging after that huge dinner.

Hefty – Sumo wrestlers have to be very hefty and strong.

Next, there's the expression Good looking - Many famous actors are very good looking. Note that this expression can be used for both men and women who have a nice physical appearance, but the words handsome to describe men, and beautiful to describe women aren't used much anymore as they're considered to be old and out of date. You only really hear the word beautiful in songs now.

Then the word Ugly is the opposite of good looking - The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a kind, but ugly man.

Next, there's the word Thick. The slice of bread is thick. Then we have the words Thin or Slim which are the opposite of Thick or Fat. The difference between these two words is that thin is a more objective way of describing a person or object, and "slim" is used when a person or object is thin, but in desirable way; it's an appearance we like. The word slim can also be used to emphasize that an object is thinner than usual, for example a slim tv is a tv which is desirably thinner than other ones which occupy more space in a room.

Next, there's the word Long. The from London to Edinburgh is very long. Then we have the the word Tall. People are very tall in the Netherlands and the average height of a person is 1.85 metres. Then the word Short is the opposite of long or tall. Soldiers have short haircuts.

Next, we have the word Wide. The Panama canal is very wide. Then the word Narrow is the opposite of wide. The streets called the Shambles in York in England, are very narrow.

Next, there's the word Deep. The Marianas trench in the Pacific Ocean is about 2,550 kilometres deep. Then the word Shallow is the opposite of deep. You can wade across the river without getting your knees wet as the water is very shallow.

Next we have the word Heavy. Mercury are lead are considered to be heavy metals. Then the word Light is the oppposite of heavy. My new carbon road bike is as light as a feather.

Next, there's the word Dark. In the town Nordkapp in the north of Norway, it can be dark for about 3 months in the winter, as the sun never appears at that time of year. The word Light is also the opposite of dark. The bedroom has a large south facing window so it's very light.

Then we have the word Smooth. Polished marble is a very smooth type of stone. Then the word Rough is the opposite of smooth. Sandpaper is normally very rough.

Next, there are the words Shiny or Glossy. After shining my shoes, they became very glossy. Then the word Matt is the opposite of shiny or glossy. I prefer photos to have a matt finish rather than a gloss finish.

Then we have the word Clean. He's just washed his car, so it's really clean now. Then the word Dirty is the opposite of clean. My trekking boots are really dirty because I walked along muddy tracks.

Next, there's the word Bright. When the sun is very bright, you need to wear sunglasses. Then the word Dull is the opposite of bright. The sky's full of clouds so it's quite grey and dull today.

Then there's the word Still. I prefer drinking still water because I think it's more natural. Note that the word still also means that an object or person is in a fixed position, or is not moving. Then the words Sparkling, or Fizzy are the opposites of still. Fizzy drinks are often full of sugar.

Next, there's the word Flat. Many years ago, people used to think that the world was flat instead of being round. Then the word Corrugated is one of the opposites of flat. The garage roof is made of corrugated metal sheets.

Then we have the word Rigid. The dead man's body was found frozen rigid in the snow. Then the word Bendy and Floppy are opposites of rigid. Rubber can be a very bendy material, and swimming caps made of silicone or latex, are all floppy.

Next there are the words Brittle, Crunchy, or Crisp. These words all have similar meanings, but are used to describe different substances or types of material. For example: Thin glass is very brittle, broken glass on the ground makes a crunchy noise, and new banknotes are quite crisp. 

Then the words Elastic, Flexible, Pliant, or Supple are all opposites of brittle, crunchy and crisp. Rubber bands are elastic, fishing rods are flexible, some types of plastic are soft and pliant, and children have supple muscles.

Then we have the word Sharp. The knife is so sharp that you could shave off your beard with it.
Then the word Blunt is the opposite of sharp. The scissors are blunt so they're not even able to cut a sheet of paper.

Then there's the word Wet. I'm all wet because I've been out in the rain all day. 

Now here are some different words to describe things which are wet:

Damp – Underground caves are often dark and damp.

Moist – The sand on the beach which is close to the sea is moist, but not wet.

Saturated – You can find peat in bogs or marshland which are saturated with water.

Soaked or Soaking – We were both soaked through to the skin after walking in the heavy rain for hours.

Drenched – My t-shirt is completely drenched with sweat because it's really hot today.

Soggy – The cardboard boxes outside the supermarket are all soggy because they've been out in the rain for days.

Then the word Dry is the opposite of wet. The clothes are dry now because they've been out hanging in the hot sun; 

And here are some different words to describe things which are dry:

Dehydrated - You can use the word dehydrated when talking about the loss, or the removal of water from people, animals, or objects, for example: If you run a marathon you have to drink a lot of water, otherwise you risk becoming dehydrated.

Then there's the word desicated which you normally use when talking about the removal of water from food in order to preserve it, such as desicated coconut.

Then there's the word Arid - All deserts are arid so not much vegetation can grow because it hardly ever rains.

Then there are the words Tinder dry, Bone-dry, or As dry as a bone - The bush land in Australia is bone dry in the Summer, so there's a high risk of bush fires.

Next there are various other words which you can use to describe the texture or the surface of things.

Here are some examples:

Oily – The sea can become quite oily if there are many motorboats around.

Greasy – Food which is too greasy isn't healthy for us.

Slimy – Fish have slimy skin.

Slippery – Icy roads are slippery so you have to be careful not to skid.

Sticky – Food like syrup and honey are really sticky.

Silky – Most girls like to have silky smooth legs.

Hairy – Highland cows have long horns and are really hairy.

Furry – Angora rabbits are very furry.

Flaky – The old paint on the door has become flaky.

Fluffy – Ducklings have fluffy feathers.

Puffy – Marshmallows became puffy when you toast them over a fire.

Next, there are the words Plain, Simple, or Straight. You can use these words to describe things which are just a standard version, or without anything else added.

Here are some examples of how to use them:

I prefer plain pizzas rather than pizzas with too many ingredients on.

She only wears simple clothes, but she always looks great.

I normally like my coffee straight, but I sometimes take it with milk.

Then the words Fancy or Elaborate are opposites of plain, simple, and straight. You can use these words to describe things which are more special than usual, or which have fine details added on.

For example you could say that a fancy cake is a kind of cake which has an original shape or added details;
And an elaborate dress could be a dress with many sequins on, or with a lot of lace details.

So now that you know how to describe things, try finding some new friends on GoSpeakEnglish and ask them if they prefer rough hairy chests, or silky smooth legs!

And that's the end of this lesson!

Now you can see if you've understood the video, and do the test on GoSpeakEnglish. You can also watch many other English video lessons on GoSpeakEnglish.

Thanks, and I hope to see you again soon!

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