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Difference Between Big, Great, High, Large and Tall

big, great, high, large, tall

For many learners of English, the subtle differences between the words BIG vs LARGE and HIGH vs TALL are difficult to understand. In this lesson, I will try to clarify the differences and make them easier to remember, in a very simple and useful condition. 


How to know the difference between big, great, high, large and tall?


In order to know the difference between them, you must know how to use them.


1. How to use "big"?

Of considerable size, extent, or intensity. Or, of considerable importance or seriousness. Examples:

  • A big stone.
  • It's a big decision .
  • Big fish eat little fish.
  • Speak softly and carry a big stick. 
  • Providence is always on the side of the big [strongest] battalions. 
  • I get very nervous before a big race.
  • The big clubs siphon off all the best players.
  • This computer has one big failing.
  • The restaurant has suffered a big drop in trade.
  • I'm a big fan of Italian food. 

2. How to use "great"?

Much larger than average, examples:

  • A great success.
  • A great time.
  • Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • There is great difference between word and deed.
  • Novelty is the great parent of pleasure.
  • Venture a small fish to catch a great one.
  • Great men’s sons seldom do well.
  • Trust not a great weight to a slender thread.
  • Little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape.
  • Little chips light great fires.

3. How to use "high"?

Measure from bottom to top or larger than usual, for example:

  • A high mountain.
  • A high level. 
  • Great winds blow upon high hills. 
  • Where passion is high there reason is low. 
  • He that climbs high falls heavily. 
  • Those who climb high often have a fall. 
  • If you don't aim high you will never hit high. 
  • No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings. 
  • structure had keeled over in the high winds.
  • The standard of her work is high

4. How to use "large"?

Large in size and quantity, examples:

  • A large country.
  • A large number of people.
  • The two large classrooms have been assigned to us.
  • He has a large circle of acquaintances.
  • This medicine is poisonous if taken in large quantities.
  • All large ships now have a wireless installation.
  • He's the president of a large international organization.
  • Use recorded delivery for large cheques or money orders.
  • China is a large country with a long history.
  • There was a large dent in the passenger door.

5. How to use "tall"?

Height greater than average, examples:

  • A tall man.
  • A tall building.
  • Tall trees catch much wind.
  • A tall tree catches the wind.
  • He was pouring ice and lemonade into tall glasses.
  • I'm five feet three inches tall.
  • The dancers were all tall and graceful.
  • Tall, luxuriant plants grew along the river bank.
  • Tall jagged rocks jutted out over the beach.
  • He was tall and quite good-looking.


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