The INFJ personality type is nicknamed The Sage and belongs to the NF Empath temperament. INFJs are complex and deep, with a rich inner world. Their life’s mission is to develop and guide others. Personal growth drives them and anything short of that pursuit is meaningless to them. They are passionate and devoted to the causes they believe in, which is why they tend to live their life with a great sense of purpose.
Already have your test results? Keep reading to find out things like:
- What characterizes INFJs?
- What trait is most likely to give them away?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- Which famous people are INFJs?
- What jobs suit this type best?
- How compatible are INFJs with other types?
- And more!
But first – let’s see what defines this personality type in a nutshell.
INFJs direct their energy inward, they are independent and deliberate. As introverts, they are energized by spending time alone and have a few close friends. The Sage is a highly Intuitive, deep thinking type, whose thought process is complex and abstract. They are idealistic and future-focused Feelers that make decisions with their heart. The main characteristics that fuel Sages are empathy, warmth and care. When it comes to getting the job done, INFJs are often quick at their tasks and enjoy finishing them, as they seek closure. Sages’ lives are scheduled and structured mainly because of their controlled and organized nature.
Sages define love in terms of emotional intimacy and shared values. They have a great need for connection while at the same time they yearn for solitude. One-on-one interactions are much enjoyed by this personality type, as INFJs can focus on the other person and really get to know them. Of all the 16 types, INFJs are the most private and the hardest to get to know. Although they enjoy being a mystery, they also long to be known and understood.
“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” — Mahatma Gandhi
INFJs love to learn. Their whole existence is wrapped around growth and thus they are on a constant quest to improve and untangle more questions. Sages are gifted at deciphering the connections and profound meaning of things. What interests them most are the theoretical and abstract concepts that can be applied to people and relationships.
INFJs are one of the NF temperament personality types. These types (also known as Empaths) are introspective and intuitive people, who are also highly idealistic. With a desire to distribute goodness and meaning into the world, they are compassionate and good-natured.
Here are some key facts that will help you get to know the INFJ personality type better:
- The rarest personality type
- Among the most likely types to stay in college
- The type most likely to see a therapist to deal with stress
- Top personal values include: Learning, Spirituality and Community Service
- Likely to get a career in religion, counseling or teaching
If you are new to the 16 personalities concept, you probably wonder what the INFJ abbreviation stands for.
The INFJ letters stand for the 4 Preferences that this type embodies: Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging. Preferences are the unique dimensions that characterize a personality type, and are based on a concept developed by Jung.
Personality types are also defined by their stack of Cognitive Functions, which determine how they make decisions and process information. They are a total of 8 and follow a strictly individual order for each type – from Dominant to Inferior.
Below we will discuss both of these important concepts that make up this (and every other) personality type.
Let’s take a closer look at what the 4 INFJ Preferences stand for.
Introversion is characterized by a preference to focus on the inside world of oneself. This means that INFJs are energized by spending time alone or in a small group. They find large group gatherings draining because they seek depth instead of breadth of relationships. As Introverts, INFJs process information internally. They make for great listeners and think before talking.
People with Intuition live in the future. They are immersed in the world of possibilities. They process information through patterns and impressions. As Intuitives, INFJs value inspiration and imagination. They gather knowledge by reading between the lines. Their abstract nature attracts them toward deep ideas, concepts and metaphors.
As Feeling people, INFJs are subjective. How they make decisions is based on their principles and values. One can even say that they are ruled by their heart instead of their head. INFJs judge situations and others based on their feelings and extenuating circumstances. What they seek is to please others and want to be appreciated. Above all else, Sages value harmony and empathy.
Judging refers to a person’s orderliness and organization. Sages are sequential thinkers, who enjoy having routine and structure in their lives. This is why they often seek closure and enjoy completing tasks. Deadlines are likely to be taken very seriously by them. Judging people make sure that all their responsibilities are done before they can indulge in anything like “me time.” Keep in mind that Judging doesn’t mean judgmental – it refers to how a person deals with their day-to-day activities.
INFJ Cognitive Functions
As we already mentioned, every person engages with the world through four Cognitive Functions. Each function can be either Introverted (the energy is directed inward) or Extroverted (the energy is directed outward). The INFJ’s Dominant function is Introverted Intuition and the Auxiliary is Extroverted Feeling.
Let’s take a look at the full INFJ function stack.
- Introverted Intuition (Dominant)
INFJs use this function most often. With Intuition (N), INFJs process new information through impressions, possibilities and meanings. Introverted Intuition allows them to have a sense about what would happen in the future. When an INFJ receives information, they are able to easily process it and intuitively know how it would unfold.
- Extraverted Feeling (Auxiliary)
INFJ’s use of this function is somewhat high. When Feeling (F), Sages form their decisions by putting heavy emphasis on their emotions. Extraverted Feeling means that they are able to adjust their behavior in a way that fits with others. It also gives them the ability to relate, and the desire to connect with other people’s feelings with warmth and consideration. This cognitive function has the effect of drawing others out, allowing Sages to respond to both expressed and unexpressed needs.
- Introverted Thinking (Tertiary)
INFJs use this function but to a lesser degree. While Thinking (T), INFJs make decisions based on logic. The Introverted Thinking function enables them to categorize and analyze data. It is the ability to identify inconsistencies, know how things work and problem solve.
- Extroverted Sensing (Inferior)
INFJs use this function least of the four. Through Sensing (S), INFJs process data with their five senses. The Extroverted Sensing function allows them to process life through their experiences. To be keen to what is seen, smelled, touched, heard and tasted. To be energized by experience and able to live “in the moment.”
INFJ Traits and Characteristics
You have gotten a good understanding about what INFJs are like by now, but we want to build a full picture of this personality type. In this section we will take a brief look at their prominent characteristics, and at the strengths and weaknesses they possess. You can also take a look at the comprehensive and detailed article about INFJ personality traits and characteristics, which we wrote.
Another way of achieving a better understanding of this personality type is by comparing INFJ to the other 15 types. What are their similarities and differences, in what ways do they relate, and can they all peacefully coexist together?
INFJ is one of the 16 personality types identified by the Personality Type Indicator. Their Preferences are: Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging. INFJs are usually reserved but highly sensitive to how others feel. They are typically idealistic, with high moral standards and a strong focus on the future.
INFJs are often described with the following words:
- Future focused
- Peace loving
- Values oriented
Strengths and Weaknesses
Following are some INFJ strengths and weaknesses that are typical of this personality type. Of course, some representatives may demonstrate them more than others, but every Sage demonstrates them to some degree.
- Good at listening
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Warm, affirming and encouraging
- Honors commitments
- Very strong intuition
- Has trouble with conflict
- Difficulty receiving criticism
- Holds back
- Tendency to overthink
As previously stated, INFJs are a part of the NF temperament personality types. According to the official 16 Personalities Institute data, this branch makes up 16.5% of all personality types. Individually, INFJs are considered to be the rarest personality type, making up only 1.5% of the U.S. population. Here are some curious percentage insights:
- INFJs make up 1.5% of all personality types. INFJs are the rarest of all personality types. Introversion, Intuition and Feeling are less common as Dominant preferences than their opposites.
- 1 in every 200 males is an INFJ (0.5% of all males). 1 in every 66 females is an INFJ (1.5% of all females). Male INFJs are the least common type-gender combination (along with female INTJs).
- There are significantly more female INFJs than male, with females outnumbering males by 3 to 1. One reason there are more female INFJs is that females tend to be Feelers (F) while males are more often Thinkers (T).
The distribution of the different personality types is uneven but interesting. These findings are based on plenty of insightful data, gathered by the 16 Personalities Institute over the years.
Other INFJ Names
The personality type theory is becoming increasingly popular in many aspects of people’s lives (work, educational, and personal). So it should come as no surprise that different sources give their own names to each of the personality types. Here is a list of different INFJ nicknames around the Internet:
- Author or Counselor (Counsellor), according to David Keisey, an American psychologist and university professor
- Foreseer Developer, according to Linda Berens, a human and organizational development practitioner
- Visionary, according to Alan Brownsword, author of Psychological Type: An Introduction
- Creative Wordsmith, according to Jonathan P. Niednagel, developer of Brain Typing
- Advocate, according to the 16 personalities website
And last but not least:
- Insightful Visionary, according to the official 16 personalities website
BONUS: Here are some other names you can stumble upon when reading about this personality type on the Internet:
- Insightful Supporter
- Meaning Giver
INFJs make for some of the most idealistic, caring and creative celebrities and fictional characters. As you may have already noticed, they have the ability to perceive the world around them in a deeper way than most (even though they don’t have this preference!) and are sensitive to the feelings of others. They strive to create a balanced world, free of conflict, and are eager to fight for their beliefs. There are plenty of fields where INFJs shine – from creative careers like acting, music and art, to stricter disciplines like philosophy and politics.
This personality type gives us some of the most empathetic fictional characters as well. You can find INFJs in TV shows, movies, anime and comic books. In case you’re interested, you can take a look at this epic list of 150+ famous INFJ people and characters. It also includes short analyses on prominent musicians, actors and even comic book characters. Below, we have summarized some of the categories you can find there.
INFJs make for dedicated and passionate actors. They are creatively expressive, which is why it is so likely they develop a liking to this calling. A common characteristic of this personality type is their desire to be “anyone but themselves” around others, which is why they find it easier to slip into the shoes of someone they are not. INFJs become their character on many different levels, including physically, spiritually and intellectually. It is easy for them to detach from their real-life persona and fully become someone else for a while.
- Carrie Fisher, U.S. actress, writer and comedian (Star Wars; When Harry Met Sally; The Blues Brothers)
- Daniel Day-Lewis, British actor (There Will be Blood; Phantom Thread; Lincoln)
- Hilary Duff, U.S. actress and singer (Lizzie McGuire; A Cinderella Story; Raise Your Voice)
- Mel Gibson, U.S. actor and director (Braveheart; The Passion of Christ; Lethal Weapon; Apocalypto)
- Tilda Swinton, Scottish actress (Suspiria; Doctor Strange; We Need to Talk about Kevin)
INFJs have vivid imagination and aren’t afraid to challenge reality. They often come up with unusual ideas and are eager to explore the unknown. Some of the greatest writers of all time come from this personality type and each of them has contributed something to world literature. Because of the INFJ’s unique bouquet of characteristics, the stories they tell are often very relatable to readers, and manage to convey accurately the emotion of their made up characters. They can also derive complex meanings from seemingly ordinary occurrences. Being sensitive, these writers tend to write more philosophical and emotional pieces, which explore the human condition.
- Agatha Christie, English writer (Murder on Orient Express; Death on the Nile)
- Dante Alighieri, Italian poet (Divine Comedy; Inferno; Paradiso; La Vita Nuova)
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian author (Crime and Punishment; The Brothers Karamazov; The Idiot)
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, U.S. author (The Scarlet Letter; The House of the Seven Gables)
- Noam Chomsky, U.S. linguist and social critic (Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media)
Music is also deeply intertwined with INFJ creativity. Even though INFJs are considered to be the rarest personality type, this is not the case among musicians. This can be explained due to the fact that many of them have complex personalities, and are introverted and feel drawn to the arts. The INFJ emotional sensitivity also translates nicely in their music and is able to touch the deepest strings of the human heart. They often have big ideas about the world around them – including about relationships, people, and even abstract notions.
- Alanis Morissette, Canadian-American singer-songwriter (Ironic; You Oughta Know; Hand in My Pocket)
- Florence Welch, English singer, lead vocalist and songwriter of Florence and the Machine (Dog Days are Over; You Got the Love; Shake it Out)
- Frank Ocean, U.S. singer-songwriter (Chanel; In My Room; Nights; Ivy; Pink + White)
- Lady Gaga, U.S singer-songwriter and actress (Shallow; Bad Romance; Million Reasons)
- Stevie Nicks, U.S. singer-songwriter, singer of Fleetwood Mac (Edge of Seventeen; Dreams; The Chain)
- Taylor Swift, U.S. singer-songwriter (cardigan; exile; the 1; You Need to Calm Down)
INFJs are passionate, idealistic, articulate and often dedicate themselves fully to causes they believe in. When inspired, they can easily transfer that feeling to others by not being afraid to dream big and have a unique vision. People are also quick to trust them, as they often perceive INFJs as authentic and sincere people, who only want the best for others. This being said, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they make for some of the most influential and notable politicians the world has known.
- Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S First Lady, diplomat and activist
- Martin Luther King Jr., American Christian minister and activist
- Nelson Mandela, South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999
- Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017
INFJ Fictional Characters
You’ll most likely identify INFJ fictional personas as the quiet, reserved and introspective character, with keen observational skills and an unique perspective on the outside world. They are wise, care for others, and possess an almost mythical intuition. Their strong moral compass aids them in telling right from wrong and, when they believe in a cause, nothing can turn them away from it. Others often come to them for solutions to their problems and are appreciative of their shared wisdom
- Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks
- Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings
- Jon Snow, Game of Thrones
- Remus Lupin, Harry Potter
- Yoda, Star Wars
INFJs are so intuitive and perceptive that it’s easy for them to pick the right topic to discuss with any other personality type. However, some types aren’t attracted to their quiet mysticism and can easily find them stubborn, boring and too mature.
SP temperament types (ESTP, ESFP, ISTP and ISFP) are driven by the Sensing and Perceiving preferences. These personality types are spontaneous and are good at thinking on their feet. They like to tinker with various gadgets and tools, and make for great artists. Personality types from the SP temperament are fun, energetic and are always up for telling a good story – which is why INFJs are likely to find them so exhausting. While they share some characteristics, such as seeing the big picture and disliking routine, SP types largely lack INFJs intensity and depth in relationships. This goes against the life philosophy of most INFJs, as they are known to place a lot of importance on their personal connections with others.
Even so, INFJs typically make for empathetic partners and friends. Let’s take a look at how they behave in different social relationships.
Given INFJs sincerity and depth of personality, it’s no wonder that they make for fantastic partners. This personality type has the amazing quality of making others feel heard and understood, and never take their romantic relationship for granted. They are aware that they need to value the other person daily, which is something they are eager to do, unconditionally. Their empathy and willingness to provide plenty of emotional support easily make their chosen partner feel important and cherished. INFJ people are able to create a deep, almost spiritual, bond with their partner, which is taken very seriously. To them, being so intimate with another person is not at all about physical interaction, but they perceive it in a way to share mind, body and soul.
Given the peaceful nature of INFJs, and their desire to avoid conflict, it’s easy to see how they would want to be on good terms with everyone. They make for compassionate partners who are always there for their loved ones and are ready to support them. However, there are a few personality types with which they are likely to get along more naturally than others. Here they are:
- INFJ and ENFJ
INFJs and ENFJs are similar to one another – after all they are only one preference apart. They both seek a deep and meaningful relationship with their partner. Their shared idealism, thoughtfulness and sensitivity are likely to bring them closer together. The combined idealism of these two types, however, could backfire, leading to both of them staying oblivious to any red flags in the relationship. Both INFJs and ENFJs are focused more on what could be and often choose to ignore any inconveniences that get in the way of this image. Overall, this relationship is prone to be harmonious and to offer great comfort, with few conflicts occuring between the partners.
- INFJ and INFP
Even though INFJs and INFPs don’t share any cognitive functions, they do have 3 shared preferences. This often leads to them having common values and overall agreeability between the two. It’s not unusual for this pairing to find deep understanding and comfort in their partner. Overall the relationship has a great potential for establishing a close and caring connection. Even though INFJs and INFPs can sometimes disagree on some topics, it’s likely that they think the same way about the important things in life. Their differences can be a good thing as well, since this allows them an opportunity to grow and learn from each other.
These are the two matches that have the best potential for a harmonious relationship with an INFJ. But almost certainly, they can get along with just about anyone. Some relationships, however, may take more work than others! You can read a full evaluation of their compatibility with the other 14 personality types (including themselves) in this INFJ Relationships and Compatibility article.
INFJs take all their personal relationships seriously – including friendships. They place a lot of importance on establishing meaningful relationships, which sometimes can be a difficult task, given how introverted they are. Making connections with others requires talking to them first, which can be a challenge for the reserved INFJs. Something else that can become an issue is their high standard when it comes to the people they surround themselves with. However, when they find their people, INFJs are extremely loyal, appreciative and establish a deep connection. Others are quick to discover how easy it is to confide in INFJs and are careful to listen to what they have to say about their problems. This personality type is perceived as wise among their friends, which makes them a trusted confidant.
Patient, loyal and empathetic – is there a better combination of characteristics, when we are talking about friends? Even though they are introverts, INFJs are pleased when they can help other people out. However, it’s not easy to connect to everyone in the same way. Some people don’t understand INFJs, and might even think that they are dull and absentminded. Which personality types find it harder to establish a friendship with INFJs?
- INFJ and ESTP
INFJs and ESTPs make for curious friends, as it’s unlikely that these two types even meet. INFJs tend to keep to themselves and enjoy spending time by themselves, while ESTPs can be found where the action is. INFJs avoid social situations, which reduces their chances to interact with each other. However, if they do, ESTPs will undoubtedly be impressed by INFJs strong intuition. They are likely to stare at them with disbelief when they realize that their gut feeling proves to be right most of the time. To a Sensing type such as the ESTP, this is borderline mysterious.
- INFJ and ESTJ
INFJs and ESTJs have varying values when it comes to friendship. INFJs are much better at providing emotional support to their friends and prefer to connect with them on a deeper level. ESTJs on the other hand are more practical and would be quick to offer a logical solution to a problem, rather than try to empathise with the other person. To an INFJ this can come across as cold hearted and insensitive, and as a deeply sensitive type, they wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend this type of reaction. If they try to, however, this contrast in values can benefit both sides.
- INFJ and ISTP
Even though INFJs and ISTPs are united by their mutual introvertedness and tendency to keep to themselves and not socialize, they are unlikely friends. ISTPs are realists and prefer action to simple words, while INFJs can indulge in daydreaming and speculating about future possibilities for prolonged periods of time. INFJ’s focus on emotions is also confusing to logic-driven ISTPs. This can make it difficult for them to relate to one another in critical moments. Ideally, these types can learn from their differences and use them to grow individually, but sometimes they can find the rift between them too great.
INFJs are wise and caring parents. To them, having a child gives them an opportunity to grow and learn together with their growing family. The most important qualities that INFJs want to pass on to their children are to be independent and good to others. To them, being humane is more important than being successful and distinguished in a field. INFJs tend to perceive their children as equals and rarely treat them like children – to them, this is a person in the making. You will rarely see them act foolish around their kids. Instead, they tend to treat them with respect and honesty, just like they would behave toward any other person.
A problem that INFJ parents might face is their proneness to project their own beliefs onto their child. Since they are so idealistic by nature, they expect their children to fight for the good of the world as well. These are parents who want their children to be honest and act with a sense of integrity. This expectation, however, sometimes clashes with the very independence they are trying to bestow. INFJ parents need to understand that if their children turn out differently than expected, this doesn’t mean that they are a failure as parents. It simply means that they raised a person who can successfully act upon his own sense of ideals and values.
INFJs are loving and dedicated parents, who can teach their children a lot about maintaining relationships. They often have a strict moral compass, which can sometimes also cause problems between themselves and their children, if they don’t learn to see other points of view.
INFJs at Work
As we said over and over again – INFJs are deeply empathetic and caring, and have strong intuitions – and the workplace is no exception. They prefer to be behind-the-scenes workers – possibly due to their unique set of preferences. Given that they are Introverted, they are more oriented to careers that suit their energy levels. Even though this personality type can come across as quiet and reserved, they are dedicated and principled workers, who are always diligent with their tasks. Being organized as they are, INFJs are fully able to get involved in complicated projects and carry them out flawlessly. However, most of the time they prefer to stay behind the scenes and contribute from afar. Their ideal career is in a calm, quiet and peaceful workplace, which allows them to fully ponder their ideas in a tranquil environment.
Because of INFJ’s idealistic way of thinking, they prefer to carry out meaningful tasks, which can positively influence the world. They are helpful and reliable team members, who sometimes take on more than they are realistically capable of doing. This might be because of their heightened sense of responsibility both for their work and for others who work with them. They are always willing to help and even stay later than their working hours to make sure everything is completed to their high standards.
The work habits of INFJs, as well as INFJ career matches and INFJ careers to avoid, is an extensive and interesting subject. Below we have laid out a small overview of some career paths they are likely to enjoy and be especially good at.
The job an INFJ type would feel most comfortable in is one that is highly consistent with their strong value systems. This personality type is extremely altruistic and wants their actions to impact the world in a positive way. They are caring and thoughtful, and achieve a great sense of satisfaction from helping others. This is why careers in humanitarian fields are well suited for them. Given INFJs deep empathy and superior understanding of people’s feelings and emotions, an occupation that deals with people can be good for them.
Below we have listed several INFJ careers where these people can excel, and which will keep them intrigued for years.
INFJs have a well-developed emotional intelligence. Not only can they accurately pinpoint their own emotions, they can do so in others as well – and with impressive accuracy. This makes them particularly good at working with adolescents, whose emotions are often not firmly controlled. INFJs working in education can sense when their students are struggling with something, be it connected to their studies or their personal life, and are able to approach them appropriately. Their inner knowledge of how to best assist someone in a non-intrusive, yet meaningful, way can be deeply appreciated in such a profession. They also enjoy lifting others up and helping provide them with the foundation needed to excel in certain fields of their lives.
Here are some examples in this area of work:
- Substance Abuse Counselor
Healthcare is a field that INFJs are naturally good at. It combines all of the best qualities of this personality type, potentially making them adept in a number of professions. One good thing about a job in healthcare is that it can be versatile. From clinical research in a lab to private practices, INFJs have great freedom in choosing where to develop themselves. No matter what path they choose, it is likely that they would be greatly satisfied. Working as a healthcare practitioner also often means working individually and relying on their own knowledge and skill sets. This intimate privacy appeals greatly to the reserved INFJs, as they get to practice their deep intuition and understanding of individual human emotions more freely.
Here are some examples in this area of work:
- Physical therapist
- Family doctor
INFJs are often passionate about global issues, as well. Working in non-profit organizations can translate this passion in an actionable way. It allows them to dig deep into global conditions and actively work toward bettering them. It also serves as a bridge between their good intentions and their community. For an INFJ, this is a job that combines multiple important values for them, such as helping the planet, helping others and making a difference, however small.
Here are some examples in this area of work:
- Project coordinator
- Project analyst
- Community outreach specialist
Given everything you read about INFJs up until now, it should hardly surprise you that they have a specific sense of humour. They find it funny to point out how absurd a certain situation might be. They enjoy presenting to others different issues and flaws, as well as behavior they find illogical. Sometimes this can lead to them being perceived by others as acting arrogant or more self-assured than they actually feel. One of INFJs superpowers is being able to seem unaffected by an absurd situation – even if they actually are. They are also able to keep their stone face while saying something outrageous, which further builds up their style of humor.
Even though INFJs have their own preference for what they find funny, nothing makes them happier than being able to laugh with other people. This is why they enjoy enacting any style of humor, if people are patient enough to get them out of their shells.
A lot of INFJs enjoy jokes that carry “meaning.” This translates to observations, which are wrapped in something of a provocative and funny shell. It is an intelligent and elegant kind of humor, which not every person “gets.” But those who do are in for a delight. Here’s a taste of some typical INFJ jokes:
- Pessimist: Oh, this can’t get any worse!
Optimist: Yes, it can!
- A boy and a man sit on a couch together. The boy says to the man, “Yeah, well, I didn’t believe in reincarnation when I was your age either.”
This is just a small sample of the kind of humor INFJs have – though they have much more than this to offer!
INFJs are extremely inspired people. Their calm and intuitive resolve can find the deeper meaning in anything – including in what people around them say. Even if it isn’t said directly to them, INFJs are so perceptive that they can find their own meaning in the words of others. The following are some quotes by notable people, which INFJs might find particularly inspiring. They also capture the life philosophy of this personality type well.
“To be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e.e. cummings
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”– Rumi
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” – David Mitchell