In this article I will give you some tips on how to describe someone’s character and behavior, which can be rather difficult in Italian!
How to describe a person’s behavior and personality
I decided to divide the adjectives into two groups:
1 – positive, courteous and kind ones;
2 – negative, rude and sometimes disrespectful ones.
Let’s start with those Italian adjectives that help us to describe the character of a person in a positive and courteous way!
A GOOD person could be defined as:
GENEROSO/A or ALTRUISTA (GENEROUS or ALTRUISTIC), whether they is characterized by a real desire to help others, whether they know them or not.
Example: un cittadino altruista (an altruistic citizen).
Both of these adjectives indicate a tendency to help others, but the adjective “generous” indicates in particular the willingness and the readiness to give money.
Example: un capo generoso (a generous boss).
CORDIALE or AFFABILE (FRIENDLY or AFFABLE) are used if a person is friendly, kind to others, even strangers, who never refuses a chat or a greeting and who dispenses spontaneous and warm smiles. In this case, you could also define them as ALLA MANO (EASY-GOING).
Es: a friendly girl.
RICONOSCENTE (GRATEFUL) is the one who recognizes the good received by showing gratitude and willingness to reciprocate it.
Es: una bambino riconoscente (a grateful child).
BONARIO/A or INDULGENTE or CONCILIANTE (GOOD NATURED, INDULGENT OR OBEDIENT) is someone of a mild and tolerant nature, ready to consider the mistakes of others with humanity, understanding.
Es: un esaminatore indulgente (an indulgent examiner).
A TRANQUILLO/A AND AFFETTUOSO/A (CALM AND AFFECTIONATE) person, on the other hand, could be defined as:
PRUDENTE (CAUTIOUS), that is, that acts with precaution and wisdom and evaluates the consequences of his/her actions, in order to avoid any unnecessary risk.
Es: un guidatore prudente (a cautious driver).
AFFIDABILE (RELIABLE), that is, that deserves someone’s trust because he/she has shown great skills or ability and seriousness.
Es: un dipendente affidabile (a reliable employee).
PREMUROSO/A (CARING), if he/she pays a lot of respect and affectionate and loving attention.
Es: un marito premuroso (a caring husband).
TACITURNO/A (QUIET/TACITURN), a person of few words, who rarely speaks.
Es: un’amica taciturna (a taciturn friend).
A person who is DECISO/A (DECISIVE), has a lot of energy and will of act can be described as:VIVACE or EUFORICO/A (LIVELY OR EUPHORIC), if it reveals a strong vitality and is therefore particularly awake, active and exuberant.
Es: una bimba vivace (a lively child).
CIARLIERO/A or LOQUACE or CHIACCHIERONE/A (CHATTY, LOQUACIOUS OR TALKATIVE), if he/she talks a lot and always has something to say.
Es: una ragazzina chiacchierona (a talkative little girl).
VOLENTEROSO/A or DILIGENTE (KEEN or DILIGENT), whether he/she has a great desire to do and good will, whether she likes it or not.
Es: un apprendista volenteroso (a willing apprentice).
CAPARBIO/A or TENACE (STUBBORN or STEADFAST), if he/she is particularly stubborn, who always does or thinks in his/her own way and does not hear reasons.
Es: una donna caparbia (a stubborn woman).
A person who doesn’t have clear ideas and is really confused about his/her life could be considered:
LUNATICO/A (MOODY), if it has a strange character, an unstable mood that changes easily and in a short time.
Es: un adolescente lunatico (a moody teenager).
IPOCONDRIACO/A (HYPOCHONDRIAC), if you have an excessive concern for your health and when you have even the slightest problem, you think about the worst immediately and you are always deeply convinced that you are suffering from a serious illness.
Es: un amico ipocondriaco (a hypochondriac friend).
A FALSO/A, VUOTO/A and DEBOLE (FALSE, EMPTY and WEAK) person can be described as:
IPOCRITA (HYPOCRITICAL), that is, a person simulating exemplary attitudes or feelings; in other words, a person who pretends to have sound principles, ideas and values.
Es: una donna ipocrita (a hypocritical woman).
CODARDO/A or VIGLIACCO/A (COWARDLY) are used to describe a person who shies away from fulfilling his duty in the face of danger, without courage.
Es: un cavaliere codardo (a cowardly knight).
INETTO/A (INCOMPETENT/INEPT) is a person who is incapable of performing, albeit roughly, his duties, a good-for-nothing.
Es: un signore inetto (an inept gentleman).
MOLLACCIONE/A (LAZY BONES/LOAFER) is a slow and apathetic individual, lacking a great personality.
Es: un impiegato mollaccione (a lazy employee).
SFIGATO/A (LOSER/DORKY) can be used both to describe a person without merits and attractiveness, as well as an unfortunate person.
Es: un giocatore sfigato (a dorky player).
FRIGNONE/A (CRYBABY) is the one who cries easily, even for small things.
Es: un bambino frignone (a whining kid).
LECCHINO/A (LAP DOG) is someone who overly flatters others, especially in a low and servile way.
Es: un dipendente lecchino (a lap dog employee).
DORMIGLIONE/A (SLEEPYHEAD) is a person who tends to be always tired and sleep a lot.
Es:una donna dormigliona (a sleepyhead woman).
INFEDELE (UNFAITHFUL/DISLOYAL) is a person guilty of conduct contrary to a commitment of fidelity.
Es: un marito infedele (an unfaithful husband).
VOLUBILE (FICKLE) is an individual prone to change with ease and frequency, unstable.
Es: un bambino volubile (a fickle child).
VANESIO/A (VAIN) is the one who flaunts a frivolous complacency of him/herself.
Es: un attore vanesio (a vain actor).
A person with whom it is hard to deal with can be:
APATICO/A (LISTLESS/APATHETIC), that is, without any interest.
Es: uno studente apatico (an apathetic student).
PERMALOSO/A (TOUCHY/PRICKLY), that is, that shows a resentful and spiteful susceptibility, mostly in the face of futile pretexts. In other words, a person who does not take well negative reviews or jokes.
Es: una ragazza permalosa (a touchy girl).
SARCASTICO/A (SARCASTIC), that is, that has a particularly harsh and bitter irony, dictated by the intent to hurt or humiliate.
Es: un professore sarcastico (a sarcastic professor).
IMPERTINENTE (IMPERTINENT/INSOLENT) is someone impudent, disrespectful, cheeky, naughty.
Es: una bimba impertinente (a insolent child).
VIZIATO/A (SPOILED) is said to be of those who have been educated in a way that is too permissive or indulgent.
Es: un bambino viziato (a spoiled child).
SUSCETTIBILE (OVERSENSITIVE) is one who shows an excessive sensitivity to anything that seems to represent a more or less critical judgment towards him/her.
Es: un ragazzino suscettibile (an oversensitive kid).
SCORBUTICO/A (ILL-TEMPERED/GRUMPY) is used to define people with a grumpy and disliked character.
Es: un vecchio scorbutico (a grumpy old man).
A person who is CATTIVO/A (BAD) or otherwise likes to argue can be defined as:
INGRATO/A (UNGRATEFUL), that it does not respond with gratitude to the good received.
Es: un contadino ingrato (an ungrateful farmer).
SADICO/A (SADISTIC) is the one who has a cruel and perverse complacency in tormenting others.
Es: un individuo sadico (a sadistic individual).
SACCENTE (KNOW-IT-ALL) is the one who irritably flaunts an erudition or culture more presumed than real.
Es: un personaggio saccente (a know-it-all character).
ROMPIPALLE (PAIN IN THE NECK/PEST) is someone who tends to annoy and bore others, voluntarily or unintentionally.
Es: un moccioso rompipalle (a snotty pest).
ATTACCABRIGHE (BRAWLER/TROUBLEMAKER), someone who is always ready to quarrel with everyone, even for futile reasons.
Es: una suocera attaccabrighe (a mother-in-law who is a brawler).
Now that you know how to talk about a person’s character and behavior, all you have to do is to read the article on how to physically describe them!
If instead you want to practice what you’ve learned in this article, you should try HelloTalk, the app that allows you to chat and talk with native Italian speakers who are learning your language!
Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!