Vocabulary for describing people’s behaviour: Adjectives, colourful worksheets, PDF and story (Salt No More)

Behaviour Vocabulary

‘Behaviour’ can be defined as the way a person conducts himself or herself in a particular situation.

In this post, you will encounter and learn different types of Adjectives that can be used to describe people’s behaviour.

English Worksheets-Adjectives for Describing Behaviour (1), Learn English With Africa, September 2017

We have included the Prologue and Chapter One of one of our stories Salt No More, Level B1-B2, in order to introduce the main character, Pearson Chimaliro Manda.

You can use the ‘behaviour vocabulary‘ to describe him. Check the meaning of the words that you do not understand by using a monolingual or bilingual dictionary. It is also important to practise your pronunciation too.

Salt No More Book Cover, Learn English With Africa, August 2017-Level B1-B2


Pearson Chimaliro Manda is a retired Public Administrator and an aspiring Member of Parliament. He lives in Chalema Village where it is fashionable to be helpless.

Pearson is a slave to greed and selfish ambition. His lust for victory transcends all barriers. A born fighter, he belongs to the United Populists’ Party (U.P.P). So far he has won most of his ruthless battles without compromising his pride and pleasures.

Emmanuel Mhone is an upstart lawyer who lands a lucrative job in France. He is married to Pearson’s daughter, Towera. The couple are at the centre stage of a family scandal whose consequences are far-reaching and will leave no one unscathed.

Pearson is a stranger to failure until he is caught up in this frightful storm. How does this proud man deal with such a blow that threatens to rip him apart?


Immigration, migration, emigration, power, powerlessness, anger, ambition, dependence, independence, interdependence, depression and suffering, greed, love, family ties, betrayal, alienation, sacrifice.


  January, 2005

The news about Pearson’s imminent release from prison spread in Chalema like a cheap piece of gossip always does. Fast, wild and difficult to get rid of once it was in the village. The story went around unchecked, snaking into people’s homes and fields, taking them by surprise. It was there at the borehole, at the market and at church.  It was the uninvited guest at weddings and funerals. No one pushed it away.

Its origins were doubtful and its veracity even more. But everyone felt the need to tell the story as soon as they heard it, even for the most restrained of them all. They let the rumour take life, opening old wounds and creating new ones. No one stopped it.

“So soon!” the villagers exclaimed. “After what he did.” They shook their heads.

“Is a life worth three years?” someone asked in anger.

Some women wailed and the children laughed.

“NyaMoyo and the boys should know,” the headman finally spoke out.

“Leave them alone.” Was the common statement. “They’ve seen enough already.


October, 2001

“NyaMoyo! NyaMoyo!” Pearson’s voice tore through the empty house. It was a voice you couldn’t miss. A thick thunder-like echo that gave you the impression of power, permanent and unshakeable, defying time and everyone. It was very difficult to forget this voice once you heard it. Nor was it easy to forget the owner once you saw him. Voice and man became one and their presence was felt, even by the unwelcome visitors of the Mandas’ household. Rats, cockroaches and crowds of black ants.

“NyaMoyo!”  The voice boomed, coloured by newer notes, higher, angrier. It circled around the musty living-room and bounced back to the owner’s ears, its residues lost in the sultry October air. “Is there a living thing in this house?” No breathless: “Yes, ŵabwana, I’m coming.” Only the scurrying of the startled vermin, leaving behind their spoils: sugar, bits of left-over sima and dried fish.

You could now spot the slur that marred the pitch of this voice at specific times. It was there on Friday mornings, afternoons or evenings for Pearson’s drinking depended on his routine and moods. He hit the bottle at daybreak when he had the desire to kill someone. When he was mildly irritated, Carlsberg washed down his lunch. Evenings were only for celebrations, but now he had fewer and fewer reasons to be happy. So he drank to drown his sorrows, soothe his anger or numb his pains.

Pearson was a man who rarely changed his habits or his style of clothes. He wore the same brown corduroy trousers and a short-sleeved white shirt when he toiled in the fields from cock’s crow to noon. Back home, he’d take them off in a hurry as if he was afraid of the sweat soiling his body for good. Afterwards he’d wrap a cream bathing towel around his bulging waist and slip on his red patapatas, ready for a long bath in the roofless brick-walled room just a few metres away from his house. He always left the dirty clothes near the mud hut that served as a kitchen, a bar of Sunlight soap thrown on top of the crumpled heap. He’d later use Lifebuoy to scrub his aging body, while his wife kneaded and wrung his favourite work attire, rinsing it over and over again into a shiny glow.

Pearson didn’t like eating the same meal twice in a week so his wife had to be creative in her preparations. A happy stomach made a happy man, even though she knew that you needed more than a well-cooked piece of chicken to bring a smile on her husband’s face. While she chopped onions and salted the food just to his taste, Pearson would proudly rub lotion into his skin, making sure to leave no folds untouched. He’d then wait for his lunch in the living-room, squeezed into a black three-piece suit bought when he was still working as a senior civil servant in Blantyre.

In the afternoon, he’d show off his spruced-up look, fulfilling his Party duties, visiting relations or going to the local bottle store to enjoy some Coke. He did this every day, except on Sundays. On our Lord’s Day, as a Cambridge certificate holder, well-respected by many and loathed by many more, Pearson was the most expensively dressed man among the congregation. Whether it was to impress the ladies or to impose his stature as the most educated fellow among his peers, Pearson’s fashion knowledge was all the same appreciated. It was in church, and only in church where people forgot their envy at home, worshipping Pearson’s style with the unbridled fervour of a born-again.

He was a real hit with the younger generations.  Each praying day, they craned their necks to delight in his figure as he went to sit in the front row. And he made sure to arrive late, always, so they could see him walking like his majesty the king. He revelled in this attention; he craved those praising looks. On those days he was the happiest man on earth.

This weekly routine would also change on some Fridays. This was the only day when praise didn’t suffice. He needed some dark fluid to influence him positively or negatively. Even when the heavy scent of alcohol hung over him, he never let down his guard. Alcohol wouldn’t succeed where everybody else had failed. “Nothing or no one should control you,” Pearson often said. “Surprised people are fools.”

Today was Monday afternoon. Pearson Chimaliro Manda was more than drunk and his wife wasn’t there to pamper him. Their relationship resembled that of a heavyweight champion and his aid. She was outside the ring during combat, inside when the going got tough and far from it in his triumphs. He knew that like a faithful dog, she’d always be there to lick his wounds and comfort him. He just had to whistle or snap his fingers. She helped him sail through the storms and caught his blows on many occasions.

Where was she now? He let out a loud belch and lost his balance for a few seconds before steading himself against the door frame. Maybe she was taking a nap and couldn’t hear him. As if that would make her case any better. Sleeping during the day was worse than chatting on a mat with your whole legs stretched out in front of you. Dust was going to be raised that night.

Adjectives for Describing Behaviour (2), Learn English With Africa, September 2017-English Worksheets

Odi!” A deep male voice broke Pearson’s stride as he headed towards the corridor.

Odi!” It rang again, piercing through the afternoon haze with the sharpness of impatience.

Odini,” Pearson replied and recoiled at the sound of his own weakened voice. He was a powerful public speaker, everyone knew this-the best political speaker that Chalema, or even Chitipa, had bred so far. And he wasn’t boasting. When Pearson spoke, crowds moved and swayed. Entrenched opinions changed or grew more radical. He had a special gift and he knew how to take advantage of it.

Odi!” the intruder’s voice rattled again as it drew nearer. It drove Pearson to the front door.

“What do you want from me?” he whimpered when he saw his Party chairman.

Mdala, is this how you behave when you see visitors?” Mr Khondowe scolded him. “Is this what I should report to the United Populists?”

What was this baby goat talking about? Pearson felt his heart swelling with hatred, but it was a different emotion that betrayed him.

“Er…Mr Khondowe…Please come in. I …shust arrived.” The flaccidity of his tongue appalled him. He tried his best to hide his discomfort despite the betrayal of his own organs.

“Never mind. I just wanted to tell you…”

“NyaMoyo is not here, but I will fish you shomesing. Come in.”

The chairman’s feet remained rooted to the ground. “We had an emergency meeting this afternoon. You know…about the scandal.” Mr Khondowe cleared his throat rather too loudly and continued in a much bolder tone: “We decided that you should stay at home for the time being.”

Those rapacious hyenas. His body wasn’t yet cold and they were already biting into him, first ripping off his skin to see if he’d awaken from the dead.

“You cannot do this…”

“Yes, we can.”

“No, you cannot.”

“It was a unanimous vote. Nothing personal nganya. Sort out your problems first and then come back.”

“I will write a letter.”

“Don’t waste your paper.”

“I can eshplain, explain…”

“You look tired Mr. Manda. Have a good rest and come see us when the dust has settled.”

“I can…”

“You need some sleep. Old people do.”

“I do not want any bloody goat to tell me what to do!”

Mr Khondowe whistled, his face lighting up.

“Calm down…”

“What do you want from me? You are provoking me, aren’t you?”

A chuckle followed, demeaning and curt. Pearson felt like pummelling someone.

“Oh, I can see your tricks young boy. You want to get rid of me, don’t you? I will not…”

“Leave this to younger blood sekuru. It’s about time.”

As if to prove his point, Mr Khondowe swerved, just enough to reveal his sleek and well-groomed back. It was tout and straight. A back full of promises. No one wanted to admire a loser, Mr Khondowe had long understood the theory of hero-worshipping. Gone were the days when courage, self-sacrifice, integrity and passion for one’s country sent men into office. People wanted success and they voted for a person who exemplified that success. Even pastors used the same concept to gain converts. Many politicians had yet to learn from the new churches. The young man had been a good student. He was applying his lessons now, poking fun at the old man’s decay.


Pearson’s voice trailed and receded back to him in impotent waves. His feet shuffled and kicked and the doorsill caught them, tricking their owner to the ground. The thump and scream that followed only added to the visitor’s hasty retreat. As the gate creaked and groaned, Pearson’ dreams of becoming Chalema’s next Member of Parliament dissolved into the October heat. It would take several years to purify his name.

Adjectives for Describing Behaviour (3), Learn English With Africa, September 2017-English Worksheets


When Pearson came round, the sky was a dark orange. It took him several seconds to get back onto his feet. Heaving himself to the treacherous door frame, the fallen man dusted his clothes sloppily, trying to remove those marks of shame that stuck to him like an invisible sack.  Stepping cautiously into the living-room, he looked like a common burglar, disoriented and eager to pilfer, discarding reason and empathy.

He staggered into a long dark corridor that gave way to five big rooms. He went into the first on the right. It was the master bedroom and its dimensions befitted the owner. It served many purposes apart from sleeping. There were bags of maize flour, groundnuts and dried red beans stacked in one corner. You could also see brand-new cooking utensils and a dusty carton containing a porcelain dinner set. These were kept for special occasions like weddings and were also used for high calibre guests: the village headman, the Clinical Officer or the Reverend. Their new National Party Chairman would also add up to this list. That was what the ambitious man had promised him anyway in exchange for his support. A visit to his house and a water tap right in his yard. Pearson had yet to see them both.

There was an old rickety bicycle near the small curtain-less window that let in most of the natural light. As a man who preserved his privacy like a prized commodity, Pearson had made sure to surround his house with a thick thatched fence. Nosy bodies were to remain at bay as long as Pearson walked on the lands of Chalema. And he hadn’t waited for days after their final move from Blantyre to warn future gossipmongers. He himself had supervised the construction of such a rampart, pushing the handyman to put more thatch in the empty spaces, making spying into his compound an impossible task for anyone, even for the most experienced thieves in the world.

The scathing examination now turned to his battery-operated stereo that stood on a wobbly stool near his bed. Pearson stroked the black device tenderly as he tuned into one of those new FM bands that had sprouted like mushrooms in recent years. Dropping himself onto the bed to enjoy the music, he wished the quality of the sound was better. Given the opportunity, he’d readily trade his faithful companion for a better version on the market. The truth was Pearson’s savings were getting dry like the soles of his feet. If it wasn’t for the occasional hand-outs from the U.P.P., he’d be begging for salt and sugar from his children.

He heard his stomach churn as he resigned himself to one hard fact. No matter what he did, he’d never be able to replace all those goods that made a man worth looking at in Chalema. The sofa and the twin armchairs, the display cabinet, the dead fridge that served as a cupboard for NyaMoyo, and the decorative TV set- his pride. He remembered the day he’d swaggered into the Asian shop in Limbe to buy it. Only his eldest daughter’s marriage to Emmanuel Mhone and his own appointment as U.P.P.’s Publicity Officer for Chitipa had brought him comparable bliss.

These thoughts tormented Pearson for some time until he stumbled back to the living-room where he slumped into the remnants of a black velvet sofa. His head reeled from the effects of the news that he’d tried to forget by drinking dry gin. He’d even ventured into kachasu beer. Strong remedies for strong ailments.

The shame. He still felt it now, hours after the shocking revelation that had almost knocked him off his feet. He saw the self-satisfied smirk on Boniface Banda’s face and wished he’d had the courage to slap it away. He’d make up for this lost opportunity in the future. That tobacco farmer wouldn’t get away with ridiculing him in front of all those burutis, ignorant people.

Adjectives for Describing Behaviour (4), Learn English With Africa, September 2017-English Worksheets

And what worm had got into Emmanuel’s head? Was this how people repaid his kindness? He’d been like a father to this young boy, giving him necessary advice and straightening his course when he’d seemed lost at times. Wasn’t it Pearson who’d lent his double-breasted black suit to this good-for-nothing scoundrel, letting him have his first taste of prestige? Only to see him spit in the hands of those who’d fed him. Hadn’t Pearson given him his daughter, his own flesh, his own blood?

Emmanuel had done enough damage to his family. He was going to pay. Not just the three remaining cows for the malowolo that he’d failed to give him, promising to honour his debt when he came back from France, God forbid. He was going to pay with his flesh, mind and everything he owned. He was going to curse his mother for bringing him into this world. He’d loathe the day he’ met Towera and his youngest daughter Thembi.

In any case, the dust of scandal would settle. And on that day, Chalema would dance to a different tune. Pearson was a fighter. You only needed to give him something to fight for. Then, no one or nothing would stop him from getting his way. He was born to be great and if Boniface and Emmanuel thought otherwise, they were seriously mistaken.

As this idyllic vision shaped itself and imprinted on his mind, momentary peace and hope brought about sleep. A deep slumber that was maintained by the music coming from the bedroom. Not ready to be broken for sleep is the ultimate balm. It calms your heart and brings you back to life. Eternal sleep does not. Eternal sleep erases hope and possibility. Eternal sleep is the ultimate betrayer.

End of Chapter One

You can read the rest of the story buy purchasing it here: 


You can also use the words below to describe behaviour in general:

Human, Animal, Adult, Child, Teenage, Toddler, Student, Women’s, Men’s, Boy’s, Girl’s, Organisational, Market, Pricing, Future, Past, Institutional, Group, Consumer, Feeding, Adopted, Comprehensible, Emotional, Suspicious, Understandable, Conditioned, Unconditioned, Aloof, Gloomy, Dismal, Fathomable, Inexplicable,  Sustainable, Ingratiating, Inspiring, Excitable, Exciting, Disappointing, Adorable, Colourful, Animated, Comical, Stubborn, Obstinate, Typical, Disastrous, Histrionic, Laughable, Bearable, Hilarious, Responsible, Irresponsible, Reasonable, Dramatic, Foolhardy, Predatory, Pitiful, Joyous, Enigmatic, Inconsiderate, Contradictory, Fearful, Obtrusive, Resentful, Intellectual, Exasperating, Shiftless, Acceptable, Unacceptable, Insulting, Wise, Unwise, Shy, Seductive, Titillating, Moral, Immoral, Disgusting, Vulgar, Impolite,  Fastidious, Anxious, Controlled, Uncontrolled, Domineering, Bossy, Manipulative, Anti-social, Casual, Nonchalant, Cool, Unaffected, Sugary, Affected, Artificial, Insincere, Hollow, Pretentious, Studied, Arrogant, Manic, Conceited, Docile, Introvert, Extrovert, Charismatic, Rude, Assertive, Nervous, etc.

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