English Words and Synonyms – Small-Little, Big-Large, Tall-High

by | Last updated Jan 12, 2024 | English Learning

Explore synonyms for “large” and “small” in English, and start learning them now!

As you’re aware, the English language encompasses a vast array of words, with even more synonyms for each. Determining which synonym to use can be challenging. Are there distinct differences between words and their synonyms? Let’s explore these questions…

English words and their synonyms, such as “small – little” or “big – large – tall – high,” do have some nuances, which we’ll delve into today.

Regrettably, there isn’t always a clear-cut distinction in their meanings. While they are often interchangeable, there are situations where they are not.

It’s crucial to be attentive to the context and trust your intuition. Sometimes, a word combination might not sound quite right, signaling the need to pause and reconsider.

In casual conversations, many use “small” instead of “little,” or “big” instead of “large,” without dwelling on the differences. Interestingly, this doesn’t hinder others from understanding the intended meaning.


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Tall vs. High

The adjective “tall” pertains to the physical height of an object, particularly a person, while “high” denotes something elevated or surpassing the average height, whether in a physical or metaphorical sense.

For instance: “a tall man” describes an individual whose physical height exceeds the norm, whereas “high ground” refers to an elevated area above sea level. “High ideas” signify grand or progressive concepts, and a “high position” denotes a societal or corporate standing above most.

In discussions about height, either adjective can be employed:

– “The door is 6 feet high” is equivalent to “The door is 6 feet tall.”
– “He is 6 feet tall” is interchangeable with “He is 6 feet high.”

The choice between them depends on the context. Generally, when discussing a person’s height, “tall” is more commonly used.

Big vs. Large

There is a common misconception that the adjective “large” serves as an abstract synonym for “big.” In reality, both terms are extensively employed, with the only distinction being that “large” is specifically used to characterize size, while “big” is occasionally employed to denote the degree of importance.

For instance: “the large boss” signifies someone substantial in size, robust, possibly overweight; on the other hand, “the big boss” refers to a managerial figure, department head, president, or someone holding a prominent position within the company.

Can you discern the difference?

Additionally, consider the following: “big brother” indicates an older brother, whereas “large brother” conveys a sibling who is physically larger than you.

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Small vs. Little

The adjective “small” pertains to size, physical dimensions, and intensity. For instance, it describes a small bag, small eyes, or a small voice, which implies a quiet voice.

On the other hand, the adjective “little” refers to a figure or amount, particularly for uncountable nouns, and serves as a comparative adjective. Examples include a little dog, a little juice, and feeling a little tired.

It’s important to note that there are instances where “little” and “small” are not interchangeable because they convey distinct meanings.

For example, you can express a small amount as “a little” or “a few” for countable nouns. Consider the sentence: “I’ve got a small amount of money now,” which can be equivalently expressed as “I’ve got a little money now.”

If you’re uncertain about which word to use, consult a dictionary for definitions and examine synonyms for the word.

Undoubtedly, the most effective way to enhance your intuitive understanding is to engage in English reading.

Reading is instrumental in enriching your English vocabulary, given that literary works undergo meticulous scrutiny, first by the author and then by the editor.

The more you immerse yourself in such literature, the more adept you become at selecting the appropriate English words for a given context.

Hence, my friends, don’t limit your reading to just blogs; include fictional literature in your reading repertoire as well.

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Find out your A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 level of English with our quick, free online test.

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