French Language Blog

Describing people in French Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Grammar, Vocabulary

In a previous post, I talked about the irregular French adjectives beau, vieux, and nouveau, useful for describing the relative age and attractiveness of people and things*. This week we’ll talk about ways to describe some of the physical characteristics of people.

I’m going to try something new this week. I’ve hidden the English translations by making the font white. Use your mouse to select the text to see the translations. And leave me a comment in the comments section to let me know if you like the new approach or not!

Voilà Sophie / This is Sophie.

Sophie est blonde. Elle a les cheveux blonds. [Sophie is blond. She has blond hair.]

Sophie a les yeux bleus. [Sophie has blue eyes.]

Elle a des taches de rousseurs. [She has freckles.]


Volià Guillaume. / This is Guillaume (William)

Guillaume a les cheveux roux. Il est roux (rouquin). [William has red hair. He is a red-head (ginger).]

Il porte** une barbe et des moustaches. Guillaume est barbu. [He has a beard and a moustache. William is bearded.]

Guillaume porte un pull^ bleu marine. [William is wearing a navy blue sweater.]


Voilà Catherine. / This is Catherine.

Catherine est rousse***. Elle a les cheveux roux comme Guillaume. [Catherine is a red-head. She has red hair like William.]

Catherine a les yeux bleus, comme Sophie. [Catherine has blue eyes, like Sophie.]

Catherine a une écharpe autour du cou. [Catherine has a scarf around her neck.]


Et voilà Christophe. / And this is Christophe (Christopher)

Christophe a les cheveux bruns / châtain. [Christophe has brown / light brown hair.]

Il est brun. [He is ‘brown’.****]

Il a les yeux noisette. [He has hazel eyes.]

Christophe a une montre au poignet. [Christopher has a watch on his wrist.]


Pour finir / And at the end . . . here is a fun little quiz on French foods that I came across recently over on NPR. How many can you get right? I must admit I only got 6 out of 10! I must not be eating enough.

* Here are two more useful words that I should have included in that previous post: moche and jeune. Moche is the opposite of beau or joli. It means ‘ugly’ or ‘unattractive’. Jeune is the opposite of vieux. It means ‘young’. As they both end in ‘e’, the singular forms are the same whether you’re talking about masculine or feminine. Both take an ‘s’ in the plural form.
** You can also say that ‘Guillaume a une barbe et des moustaches’ (using the verb ‘avoir’ / ‘to have’ vs. ‘porter’), but the formulation is quite common. You can also ‘porter’ (‘wear’) des vêtements (‘clothes’) and des lunettes (‘glasses’). The verb ‘porter’ can also mean ‘to carry’.
^ ‘pull’ is short for ‘pullover’.
*** Pay attention to the difference between these two words: ‘rousse’ and ‘russe’. The first refers to a red-headed woman, the second is the female form of the adjective ‘Russian’! Of course, Chatherine could be une russe rousse! (Click below to play)

There isn’t a good English equivalent here. If someone has brown (or black) hair, we just say “they have brown (or black) hair”.

Image Credits:
This weeks images come from, a great source of royalty free, open source images.

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Since my first trip to France at 16, I have been a passionate francophile. I love the language, food, music, art, people, and more that make France and la Francophonie in general such an amazing part of our global community. Having lived in France and studied the language and culture for over 35 years, it is my great pleasure to be able to share a little bit of my deep love with you through this blog.


  1. Melissa:

    Your use of the indefinite article is incorrect.
    You should say:”elle a les cheveux blonds,” not “des.” Same for the eyes.

    • Tim Hildreth:

      @Melissa Merci, Melissa. I appreciate your catching this. I’ve updated my post. This is particularly important when you’re talking about yourself (J’ai les yeux noisettes. J’ai les cheveux bruns.)

  2. RAUL:

    Thank you very much for the new approach. Wondeful!