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  1. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #1

    He has a cheerful character

    Here is a chain of statements I invented for better understanding the difference between character and personality (please don't send me to other threads, I have read dozens of them).
    So where is the mistake (not grammar, but logical) in the following statements, which of them is wrong:

    1) Sometimes our personality is not what we really are in character.
    2) Sometimes our personality coincides with what we actually are in character.
    3) A person can have a cheerful personality (that's how people see him), but his real self, his character, can be different from what it seems (gloomy).
    4) A person can have a cheerful personality (that's how people see him), and he can ACTUALLY be cheerful in character.
    5) When we feel that we know the person well, we can say:

    He has a cheerful character (if he REALLY is a cheerful person and not only seems to be such)?

    Where is the logical mistake?
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    Here is a chain of statements I invented for better understanding the difference between character and personality (please don't send me to other threads, I have read dozens of them).
    So where is the mistake (not grammar, but logical) in the following statements? Which of them is wrong?:

    1) Sometimes our personality is not what we really are in character. This doesn't make sense.
    2) Sometimes our personality coincides with what we actually are in character. This doesn't make sense, either.
    3) A person can have a cheerful personality (that's how people see him), but his real self, his character, can be different from what it seems (gloomy). This is a little better.
    4) A person can have a cheerful personality (that's how people see him), and he can ACTUALLY be cheerful in character.
    5) When we feel that we know the person well, we can say:

    He has a cheerful character (if he REALLY is a cheerful person and not only seems to be such)? No, he has a cheerful personality. And a cheerful disposition. And (less common), a cheerful mien. Cheerfulness has nothing to do with character.

    Where is the logical mistake?
    I think I know the problem. You're right that personality is external and character is internal. But that's not the only difference!

    - Character is about integrity. A person with a cheerful personality might be honest or dishonest, hard-working or lazy, trustworthy or untrustworthy, brave or cowardly, altruistic or sadistic, generous or stingy, open-minded or hidebound.

    - Personality is about outward behavior - how we present ourselves, how we act, how others see us. A person of good character can be cheerful or glum, witty or dull, introverted or extroverted, risk-taking or cautious.

    As you know by now, both words have other meanings, as well. But in the sense that you're using them above, that's the difference.

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    #3

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    Or He's a cheerful guy/person/man/bloke, etc.

  3. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    - Character is about integrity.
    When you mentioned integrity, did you mean the first or the second meaning? (See the link below.)
    http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/integrity
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  4. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    If a person is obstinate, does it characterize his character or personality? He is obstinate with others, not with himself, right?
    So how should I say:
    1) He has an obstinate character.
    2) He has an obstinate personality.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  5. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    I think I know the problem. You're right that personality is external and character is internal. But that's not the only difference!

    - Character is about integrity. A person with a cheerful personality might be honest or dishonest, hard-working or lazy, trustworthy or untrustworthy, brave or cowardly, altruistic or sadistic, generous or stingy, open-minded or hidebound.

    - Personality is about outward behavior - how we present ourselves, how we act, how others see us. A person of good character can be cheerful or glum, witty or dull, introverted or extroverted, risk-taking or cautious.

    As you know by now, both words have other meanings, as well. But in the sense that you're using them above, that's the difference.
    What about the word "generous". A person can be generous "inside" (I know that I am generouis, so it's a trait of my character) and he/she can be generous with others (this is how I act, generously: I give presents and money to people around me and pay for my friends in cafes), so it must be a trait of a person's personality as well?
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  6. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    When you mentioned integrity, did you mean the first or the second meaning? (See the link below.)
    http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/integrity
    The first.

    "She has integrity" and "She has character" mean almost the same thing.

    The second definition is helpful, too, because it's related. The Yiddish word mensch literally translates to man in English, but it has a broader meaning: a complete man - that is, a good person, a person with character. Her brother Roberto is a real mensch!

    So to have character is, in a sense, to be a complete person, a good person.

  7. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    If a person is obstinate, does it characterize his character or personality? He is obstinate with others, not with himself, right?
    So how should I say:
    1) He has an obstinate character.
    2) He has an obstinate personality.
    Probably both are okay, though to me it leans more toward personality. It depends on the context. A lot of words can swing both ways. That's why this is a difficult topic. It's not black and white. The two words to get interchanged a lot. I'm just trying to show you what the difference is.

    SOS! Someone help me here!

  8. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    What about the word "generous". A person can be generous "inside" (I know that I am generouis, so it's a trait of my character) and he/she can be generous with others (this is how I act, generously: I give presents and money to people around me and pay for my friends in cafes), so it must be a trait of a person's personality as well?
    Yes. To me, it's more about character, but it you can use it to describe a personality, too.

  9. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: He has a cheerful character

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Cheerfulness has nothing to do with character.
    And I have found an example of a "cheerful character" from a dictionary:
    He has a cheerful but quiet character.
    Here's the link:
    http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/character

    I've read somewhere that your character is how you behave when no one is looking, that's who you really are, your real self. Why can't a person be cheerful when no one is looking at him? Why can't we say that he has a cheerful character and a cheerful personality at the same time? The exampe almost says we can...
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

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