High or Tall?

by Craig Shrives

High or Tall?

What is the difference between "high" and "tall"?
  • "High" is an adjective used to talk about distance above the ground.
  • "Tall" is an adjective that means "above average height" or "with a notably high dimension."
high or tall?

More about "High" and "Tall"

Non-native speakers are often unsure whether to use "high" or "tall." They are near synonyms, but they are used in slightly different contexts.

More about "High"

We usually use the adjective "high" for things that are wider than their vertical height (e.g., high mountains, high wall).

"High" also refers to elevation from the ground (e.g., high-flying plane).

Examples:
  • Mount Everest is 29,035 feet or 8,848 meters high.
  • Made of stone and bricks from the nearby hills, the Juyong Pass section of the Great Wall of China is 25 feet 7 inches high.
  • (While the wall is 16 feet 5 inches wide, this could be considered its depth. This section of the wall is actually 31 miles "wide" [long].)
"High" is often used figuratively too:
  • Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there. (Baseball player Bo Jackson)
  • Don't be scared to fly high because it will inspire others. (Singer Kerli)

More about "Tall"

Especially when used for people, the adjective "tall" means above average height. We use "tall" for things that are narrower than their vertical height (e.g., people, buildings, or trees). In other words, for things that have a notably high dimension (compared to width and depth).

Examples:
  • You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was. (President Abraham Lincoln)
  • If you want to see really tall trees, go to Washington State.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are nouns? What are adjectives? List of easily confused words