Character Traits


Characters (and real-life people) have unique attributes called traits. Have your students use the following list of character traits as a guideline when writing book reports about the different characters they've read about. Don't stop with this list, though; you can probably think of many more terms to describe the characters.  Think about the characters you are reading about.  What traits do they have?





accepts authority, loyal, devoted rebellious
accepts what's given ignores, rejects what's given
affectionate distant, cold, aloof
aspiring, ambitious, motivated self-satisfied, unmotivated
candid closed, guarded, secretive
caring uncaring, unfeeling, callous
change; accepts, embraces rejects change
cheerful cheerless, gloomy, sour, grumpy
considerate, thoughtful inconsiderate, thoughtless
cooperative uncooperative, unhelpful, combative
courageous cowering, fearful
courteous rude, impolite
decisive indecisive
devoted uncommitted, uncaring, hostile
determined indecisive, unsure
does what is necessary, right does what is convenient
perseveres, endures relents, gives up
enthusiastic unenthusiastic, apathetic, indifferent
expansive kept back, tight, constricting
faith in life life can't be trusted
faith in oneself lack of faith in self
faith in others others can't be relied on
flexible inflexible, rigid, unbending, stubborn
forgiving unforgiving, resentful, spiteful
focused unfocused, scattered
freedom given to others authoritarian, controlling
friendly unfriendly, distant, aloof, hostile
frugal, thrifty wasteful, spendthrift
generous stingy, miserly, selfish
goodwill ill-will, malice, hatred
grateful ungrateful, unappreciative
hard-working lazy
honest dishonest, deceiving, lying
humble arrogant, conceited, ego-centric
interested indifferent, uncaring
involved complacent, indifferent
jealous, not jealous, envious, covetous
kind unkind, uncaring, cruel, mean
mature immature
modest vain
open-minded, tolerant narrow, close, small-minded, intolerant
optimistic pessimistic
perfects allows imperfection
persistent, sustaining flagging, fleeting, unsustaining
positive negative
practical impractical, not viable
punctual late, not on time
realistic unrealist, impractical
reliable unreliable, undependable
respectful disrespectful, rude, impolite
responsibility; takes blames others
responsible unreliable, undependable
responsive unresponsive, unreceptive
self-confident lack of self confidence, insecure
self-directed directed by externals
self-disciplined undisciplined, unrestrained, indulgent
self-esteem, high low self-esteem, low confidence
self-giving self-centered
self-reliant dependent
selfless selfish
sensitive insensitive, indifferent
serious frivolous, silly, trivial
sincere insincere, dishonest
social independence social approval required
sympathetic unsympathetic, unfeeling
systematic unsystematic, disorganized, disorderly, random
takes others point of view insists on own view
thoughtful towards others thoughtless, inconsiderate, callous
trusting suspicious, mistrusting
unpretentious pretentious, affected, ostentatious
unselfish selfish
willing does, willingness unwilling, reluctant, recalcitrant
work-oriented convenience first

To determine character traits, students should ask themselves these questions.  They should take notes as they read:

  • What does the character say and do?
  • What does the character think and feel?
  • How does the character look?
  • What do the other characters think of the character?
  • How does the character make me feel? 

Notice that:

  • Character traits are descriptive adjectives.
  • Authors may not directly state the trait; you need to infer it! 

Understanding character traits helps us to understand the story!  We understand. . .

  • Why characters say the things they say, and act the way they do!
  • Why the characters think the way they think, or why they have certain beliefs.
  • Why the characters interact with the other characters the way they do.
  • We can better predict what the character may do next!
  • We can make inferences and draw conclusions about events in the story while we read.

Have students think about their OWN character traits!

Developing positive character is vital!  Ask your students:  Do you have these character traits?

Being accountable in word and deed. Having a sense of duty to fulfill tasks with reliability, dependability and commitment.

Pursuing worthy objectives with determination and patience while exhibiting fortitude when confronted with failure.

Showing understanding of others by treating them with kindness, compassion, generosity and a forgiving spirit.

Self-discipline Demonstrating hard work controlling your emotions, words, actions, impulses and desires. Giving your best in all situations.

Being law abiding and involved in service to school, community and country.

Telling the truth, admitting wrongdoing. Being trustworthy and acting with integrity.

Doing the right thing in face of difficulty and following your conscience instead of the crowd.

Practicing justice, equity and equality. Cooperating with one another. Recognizing the uniqueness and value of each individual within our diverse society.

Showing high regard for authority, other people, self and country. Treating others as you would want to be treated. Understanding that all people have value as human beings.

A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values. Being honest, trustworthy and incorruptible.

A love for and loyalty to one's country.



Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed., CAGS. "Character Traits." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 12 Sept. 2012. Web. <>.

"Character Traits." CharacterEd.Net – Character Traits. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. <>.

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