How to Describe Yourself in French

Valorie Delp
Woman talking

If you're just starting out learning French, one of the first things you'll be asked to do is to describe yourself. Whether you're learning to say your name, express your state of being or use adjectives to describe yourself, this is the most basic of tasks when speaking French.

Describing How You Look

Start off with "je suis..." (zuh swee), which means "I am." This is similar to English and the French sentence would be constructed the same way. However, in French, if you are a female, you must use the feminine ending of the adjective. In the adjective charts below, the feminine form of the word is listed second.

Physical Appearance

Consider some of these adjectives to express your physical attributes.

French Pronunciation English
petit/petite puh-tee/puh-teet little
grand/grande grahn/grahnd tall or big
fort/forte fohr/fohrt strong
gros/grosse groh/gross fat
joli/jolie zhoh-lee cute
brune broohn brunette
blonde blohnd blonde
rousse roos red head
chauve shove bald
beau/belle bow/bell handsome/beautiful
vieux/vielle vee-uh/vee-ay old
jeune zhuhn young

Examples

  • Male: Je suis petit.
  • Female: Je suis jolie.
  • Male or Female: Je suis jeune. (Not all adjectives have differentiated male and female endings.)

Eye Color

To describe your eye color in French, you start with the phrase "j'ai les yeux..." (zhay layz yuh...) and follow by a color in the chart below. French word order is different; the color goes after the noun.

French Pronunciation English
bleu bluh blue
vert vair green
marron* mah rhon brown (for eyes)
noisette* nwah zett hazel

Examples

  • J'ai les yeux bleus.
  • J'ai les yeux noisette.

Note: In this case, some of the adjectives are plural and must have an 's' on the end while others do not. The general rule of thumb is that names of flowers, fruits or jewels used to define a color are the same whether they are describing a masculine, feminine or plural noun. In the example above, marron as a noun is a chestnut, and noisette is a hazelnut.

Describing Your Personality

You can use the same structure to describe your personality as you did your physical appearance. To start, use "je suis..." If you are female, make sure you use the feminine form of the adjective.

French Pronunciation English
sympathique sam-pah-teek friendly, nice
juste zhoost fair/just
fou/folle foo/fohll crazy
mauvais/mauvaise moh-vay/moh-vez bad
gentil/gentille zhen-tee/zhen-teel kind
content/contente cohn-tehn/cohn-tehnt content
calme cahlm

calm

drôle drohl funny
sérieux/sérieuse say-ree-uh/say-ree-uhz

serious

Examples

  • Male: Je suis fou.
  • Female: Je suis contente.
  • Male or female: Je suis sympathique.

Expressing How You Feel

Similar to describing your personality, you will start off using "je suis..." As noted below, not all adjectives have a different feminine form, but if they do, it is listed second.

French Pronunciation English
plein/pleine plenh/plehn full
heureux/heureuse uh-ruh/uh-ruhz happy
malade mah-lahd sick
triste treest sad
nerveux/nerveuse nair-vuh/nair-vuhz nervous
occupé/occupée oh-coo-pay busy
furieux/furieuse fuh-ree-uh/fuh-ree-uhz furious

fâché/fâchée

fah-shay angry

Examples

  • Males: Je suis heureux.
  • Females: Je suis nerveuse.
  • Male or female: Je suis triste.

State of Being and Avoir

Sometimes, you might want to describe a need or how you're feeling in a given situation. In French, a lot of these phrases take the verb "avoir," which means "to have." In other words, in French, rather than saying "I am afraid" like you would in English, you say "I have fear." To say "I have," use "j'ai..." (zhay). These do not need to be changed if you are female.

French Pronunciation English
peur puhr afraid
froid fwah cold
faim fahm hungry
soif swahf thirsty
chaud show hot
sommeil so-may sleepy

Examples

  • J'ai peur.
  • J'ai faim.

Basic Introductions

While introducing yourself isn't exactly describing yourself, these are phrases that would come up if someone ever asked you to talk about yourself.

French Pronunciation English
Je m'appelle... zuh mah-pell... My name is...
J'habite à (New York). zah-beet ah (New York). I live in (New York).
Je suis un/une (étudiant). zuh sweez uhn/oon (ay-too-dee-ahnt). I am a (student).
J'ai ___ ans. zhay ___ahns. I am ___ years old.
Je suis de (New York). zuh swee duh (New York). I am from (New York).

Speaking With Confidence

Once you master some basics, do your best to introduce yourself with confidence. You'll find, for the most part, that French people are very gracious in helping you learn their language. The old adage rings true - practice makes perfect. So practice as often as you can, and soon you'll find you can introduce and describe yourself with ease. Bonne chance!

How to Describe Yourself in French