Describing people in German using 'haben' and 'sein'

Knowing some key verbs and interesting adjectives can help you describe someone’s appearance or personality.

There are two important verbs you can use to describe people: haben (to have) and sein (to be). Remember to conjugate the verb depending on whether you are describing yourself (ich) or someone else (er/sie).

Conjugate means changing the endings of a verb to match the person doing the action.

You can find the conjugations of haben and sein in the table below.

ich habe - I haveich bin - I am
du hast - you havedu bist - you are
er/sie/es hat - he/she/it haser/sie/es ist - he/she/it is

To say my when describing your friend or family member, use mein for males and meine for females.


To describe how tall someone is, use sein (to be):

  • Ich bin groß - I am tall.
  • Sie ist klein - She is short.

You can also add intensifiers to add more detail (sehr - very, ziemlich - quite):

  • Ich bin sehr groß - I am very tall.
  • Meine Freundin ist ziemlich klein - My friend is quite short.


To describe someone’s hair, use haben (to have):

  • Ich habe blonde Haare - I have blonde hair.
  • Meine Freundin hat schwarze Haare - My friend has black hair.
  • Mein Opa hat kurze, graue Haare - My grandad has short, grey hair.
  • Sally hat lange, lockige, braune Haare - Sally has long, curly, brown hair.
blonde Haareblonde hair
braune Haarebrown hair
schwarze Haareblack hair
graue Haaregrey hair
rote Haarered hair
lange Haarelong hair
kurze Haareshort hair
lockige Haarecurly hair
glatte Haarestraight hair
Meine Freundin hat schwarze Haare


To describe someone’s eyes, use haben (to have):

  • Ich habe blaue Augen - I have blue eyes.
  • Mein Cousin hat braune Augen - My cousin has brown eyes.
blaue Augenblue eyes
braune Augen brown eyes
grüne Augengreen eyes
graue Augengrey eyes

Other features

You might want to describe other features too, like if someone has a beard or wears glasses.

You can use haben (to have):

  • Mein Opa hat einen Bart - My grandad has a beard.
  • Mein Onkel hat einen Schnurrbart - My uncle has a moustache.
  • Meine Halbschwester hat Sommersprossen - My half-sister has freckles.
  • Mein Stiefvater hat eine Glatze - My step-father is bald.
der Bartbeard
der Schnurrbartmoustache
die Glatzebald head
die Sommersprossenfreckles
Mein Opa hat einen Bart

You can also use tragen (to wear). This verb is irregular with er, sie and es.
Add an umlaut to the a: er trägt.

  • Ich trage eine Brille - I wear glasses.
  • Sie trägt einen Hijab - She wears a hijab.
ich trage I wear
er/sie trägthe/she wears
die Brilleglasses
einen Hijaba hijab
Ich trage eine Brille


Read the descriptions below of Tom and Nat and complete the activity.

Tom: Ich habe lange braune Haare und blaue Augen.

Nat: Ich habe lockige blonde Haare und ich trage eine Brille.

Describing personality

There are lots of useful adjectives to describe someone’s personality. You need to use sein (to be) to talk about what someone is like:

  • Wie bist du? - What are you like?
  • Wie ist er/sie? - What is he/she like?

  • Ich bin lustig - I am funny.

  • Ich bin freundlich - I am friendly.

Using connectives

You can also add connectives (und - and, aber - but) and intensifiers (sehr - very, ziemlich - quite and nicht - not) to add more detail.

  • Mein Freund ist nett und fleißig - My friend is nice and hardworking.
  • Meine Oma ist sehr ruhig, aber intelligent - My granny is very quiet but intelligent.
  • Mein Stiefvater ist sehr sympathisch und nicht faul - My step-father is very kind and not lazy.

Can you describe someone you know using the vocabulary below?

fleißig hardworking

Comparing people

To compare people, use comparative adjectives. As is common in English, in German most adjectives just add -er on the end.

  • Meine Mutter ist strenger als mein Vater - My mother is stricter than my father.
  • Mein Bruder ist lustiger als meine Schwester - My brother is funnier than my sister.

There are some exceptions as some adjectives also add an umlaut when used in their comparative form.

  • Mein Opa ist größer als meine Oma - My grandad is taller than my granny.
  • Mein Vater ist älter als meine Mutter - My father is older than my mother.


Watch the video and test your understanding of describing people in Spanish in this short quiz!

Where next?

Discover more from around Bitesize.

Game - FestiLingo: German
Adjectives in German
Days and months in German
KS3 German