A person’s “make-up”
A person’s “make-up” is his/her nature
or a combination of the various qualities that form their
I have chosen this topic for you because
this is an area in which most people aren’t fluent.
If you monitor day-to-day conversations
for a long time, you’ll be convinced of one thing: There are
four subjects that very often come up during all conversations.
1). A person’s behaviour.
2). A person’s attitude.
3). A person’s intelligence.
4). A person’s personality and personality
These are the main elements in a person’s
make-up, and during conversations, most people fail miserably
in expressing ideas that have to do with these four subjects.
Why does this happen? Why do you often find
it difficult to speak about someone’s behaviour, attitude,
intelligence, personality or personality traits?
These are the chief reasons: Firstly, though
you know the core words in English, you may not have
much experience in using them to speak about these topics
(a person’s behaviour, attitude, etc.). Secondly, to speak
about a person’s behaviour, attitude etc., you should be good
at using English in the “descriptive style” — and this style
is quite different from the style of ordinary functional English
The second reason needs some explanation.
In very general terms, we can classify the
English language as “descriptive English” and “non-descriptive
English”. Descriptive English is the type of English that
you use when you want to explain or describe what someone
or something is like or what they look like. And when you
use descriptive English, what you actually do is to try and
give a picture of someone or something to your listeners.
For example, take the following word-groups:
• He’s a man of powerful build with a severe
• She’s a tall, business-like, woman of
• He’s a short man in the early fifties,
with a bald head.
• She had a blue dress on.
• His house has an entrance hall, two bedrooms,
a kitchen and a bath.
• The floor is of white tiles.
• A hovercraft is a sort of vehicle, and
it travels above the surface of land or water, and it can
float above the land or water on a cushion of air.
These are examples of descriptive English.
On the other hand, take the following examples:
• Don’t repeat the same mistakes.
• You’d better explain everything to her.
• Perhaps you may have a point there.
• Sorry, I’m not ready yet.
• That’s all right.
• I’m happy about the whole idea.
• Have a look at this photo.
• I’m not satisfied with this mixer.
Here you’re not trying to describe or explain
what someone or something is like or what they look like,
and so these are not examples of descriptive English,
but of non-descriptive English. (Just a casual look at the
two sets of examples would give you an idea of the difference
between the two styles).
In general, when you speak about a person’s
behaviour, attitude, etc., the style of English you use is
the descriptive English style, and not the non-descriptive
Now, there’s a complicating factor: When
you describe or explain the physical appearance of a person
or a thing, things are not very difficult, because you’re
then speaking about concrete things — things you can
see or touch or things whose pictures you can easily form
in your mind. But when you describe or explain the qualities
of a person or thing, the position is different. You’re then
speaking about abstract things (and not concrete things)
— things you cannot see or touch or things whose pictures
you can’t readily form in your mind (because they don’t exist
as material objects).
So when you try to speak about the behaviour,
attitude etc. of a person, what you are trying to do is to
describe or explain abstract concepts. And this is
Now remember this: I’m not trying
to tell you that descriptive English is always more difficult
than non-descriptive English. Actually, there would be occasions
when you may find descriptive English easier than non-descriptive
English, and there would be occasions when you may find descriptive
English more difficult than non-descriptive English. But,
in general, descriptive English becomes difficult to produce
when you try to describe or explain abstract concepts
like the behaviour, attitude, etc. of people. That’s why we’re
concentrating on these areas in this Supplement.
Under each of the four topics in this Supplement,
you’re going to get plenty of word-groups. Each word-group
has been hand-picked to give you maximum training in using
the core words that are relevant to that particular
topic. Go through all the word-groups carefully. They’ll give
you plenty of experience in using the core words to speak
about these topics. And they’ll give you plenty of experience
in handling descriptive English to deal with abstract subjects.
Now remember this: Core words are words of
the greatest general service, and when you practise using
them under a particular topic, you become good not only at
using those words to handle that particular topic,
but also at handling all topics in general.
Let’s now take up the word-groups. Here we
• What I like about her is, she isn’t shy
or embarrassed in the company of other people. • He’s very
harsh/cruel, and will do anything to get what he wants.
• He’s friendly, and enjoys talking to other people. • He
behaves differently from other people. • He avoids too much
of eating/drinking. • I found him willing and eager to be
helpful. • He’s lively and enthusiastic. • He’s very concerned
about unimportant details and is very difficult to please.
• She frequently changes her mood without warning. • He
was angry and upset. • His behaviour was stupid and insensitive.
• She never does what she’s told to do. • She was in a bad
situation, and she was willing to do anything to get out
of it. • He’s stubborn and determined to have his own way.
• She behaved as though she felt at ease. • He has the courage
to do what he believes is right. • He allows things other
people disapprove of. • He’s very aggressive and eager to
argue. • I found him humble and unassuming. • Even when
he knows what he has done is wrong, he doesn’t feel guilty
or sorry about it. • That was a difficult situation, but
she was calm and unemotional. • Stop behaving like a woman,
can’t you, Ashok? • He’s very unwilling to spend money.
• He’s very reliable and respectable. • I found him very
confident and assured. • She was very upset and was behaving
in an uncontrolled way.
• Those children are noisy and not easily
controlled. • He’s not careful in obeying rules. • She often
complains about things. • She’s very sensitive and sympathetic
towards other people. • She’s rather reserved and behaves
very correctly. • He keeps trying to make people like him.
• She feels embarrassed and nervous when someone is looking
at her. • He’s not afraid of doing things even if they involve
risk/danger. • I think he’s too confident and aggressive.
• He’s very mean and hates spending money. • He gave the
impression of being dishonest. • He was lively and entertaining.
• Sometimes he behaves in a silly way, rather than being
serious and sensible. • He only helps people if he thinks
they’re important. • She’s always at ease in social situations.
• He’s full of wit/humour. • He’s respectable, well-bred
and refined. • She’s polite and has good manners. • He behaves
as though he has no emotional interest in the things he
does. • They were too eager to obey their boss and to do
things for them. • They were cowardly, or they wouldn’t
have attacked that old lady. • He felt so happy and excited,
he found it hard to think and act normally. • He looked
slightly embarrassed — as though he felt he had done something
silly. • She was very helpful and polite. • It was a frightening
situation, but he was brave. • He’s weak and cowardly. •
It was a frightening experience, but she was very calm and
• She’s very kind and sympathetic towards
other people, and she tries to do them as little harm as
possible. • She was very friendly and relaxed. • I found
him quiet and not aggressive. • He likes to have fun embarrassing
people. • He behaves/speaks as though he’s superior to other
people. • He behaves in a gentle and helpful way towards
other people. • He was nervous and excited and seemed likely
to lose control of himself. • He does a lot of dishonest/illegal
things every day. • That child is very spirited and playful.
• He often gets involved in arguments. • She’s very quiet
and rather shy. • He doesn’t take enough care over how his
words will affect other people. • The children were noisy,
lively and full of energy. • He behaves in a way that’s
too lively. • He doesn’t talk much about his abilities and
qualities. • He is very dishonest and secretive. • He never
understands how complicated things can be at times, and
he interprets them in a way that’s too simple. • He doesn’t
show any feelings or emotions. • He strongly supports people
he likes, without thinking carefully about the matter. •
He always says unkind things. • He appeared to be relaxed
and was not trying to hide anything. • Our next-door neighbours
are very friendly and helpful.
• He’s very religious and moral. • He was
angry, irritated and bored. • He was worried and unhappy
about something. • She’s cheeky, but lively and full of
energy. • She’s easily upset by unpleasant sights and situations.
• He won’t hesitate to take risks to achieve what he wants.
• It was a dangerous situation, but she showed courage.
• He’s too self-confident and rather cheeky. • He gets angry
quickly and easily. • He recognizes and accepts the true
nature of situations, and tries to deal with them in a practical
way. • He never gives any importance to other people’s opinions
or beliefs. • He’s always careless about doing things. •
He was so upset and worried that he couldn’t think clearly.
• He’s very cheeky and always speaks rudely/disrespectfully.
• I found his behaviour/accent very artificial. • He always
behaves in a formal and unfriendly way. • He’s lively and
full of enthusiasm and excitement. • He only agrees with
people if he considers them to be important. • He has no
hesitation in doing things even if they’re morally wrong.
• He has an enthusiastic nature and is interested in everything
he does. • He’s playful and unpredictable rather than serious
• Why do you hesitate to show affection
openly and freely? • He has a strong belief in democracy.
• He becomes angry and upset very quickly about small, unimportant
things. • He’s rather shy and doesn’t enjoy talking about
himself. • He’s very careful and detailed in his work. •
He’s willing to try out new and unusual ways of doing things.
• He’s prepared to be cruel to other people and feels no
pity for them. • He was angry and said a lot of bitter things.
• He’s very gentle, and he doesn’t get angry very easily.
• He’s very naïve and believes that everybody is honest.
• He’s a noble person. • Our new boss is bad-tempered and
is easily irritated. • He’s quiet and shy. • Her son is
disobedient and behaves very badly. • Your behaviour was
so bad that you ought to be ashamed. • Our new boss is very
strict and serious — I don’t like him. • She must have been
very courageous to go into the burning building. • She always
talks/behaves in a rude and offensive way. • She’s very
lively and easily excited. • He’s a mild person, and he
never shouts at other people. • He behaved as though he
didn’t like/respect them. • He’s full of confidence and
energy. • She seemed cold and aloof. • He does things suddenly
without thinking about them first. • She’s always ready
to quarrel. • He always behaves in a proud and unpleasant
way towards other people. • She deals with situations without
anxiety or emotional tension. • His behaviour was silly