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  • Hi again. I'm Adam. Welcome back to www.engvid.com. Today's lesson is a little bit tricky. The

  • reason I say it's tricky is because we're talking about specific words that are often

  • interchangeable; that are often used in the same situations or same meanings. We're talking

  • about "small" versus "little", "big" versus "large", "tall" versus "high". Some students

  • asked: what's the difference between them? I'll do my best to explain the difference

  • between these words. First thing and the most important thing that

  • you need to remember about these words is that yes, they are synonyms -- means they

  • have almost the same meaning. What makes the difference in how to use them is always going

  • to be context. Okay? A lot of the difference in how to use these words depends on the context

  • they are being used in. Some expressions take this word or that word, and not the other,

  • for example. In some situations, the meaning is very different depending on which word

  • you use. Okay? So we're going to start with "small" and "little".

  • Okay? The main thing to remember and in most cases the biggest difference: when we talk

  • about "small", when we use "small", we talk about size, the size of something or its dimensions

  • -- dimensions are length, width, height, depth, etcetera -- or intensity. Okay? When we talk

  • about the intensity of something. So first of all, the thing to remember about this:

  • we're talking about physical size. When we describe something as "small", generally we

  • mean physically small, something physical is small. But again, sometimes we can use

  • "little" to talk about the physical size of something.

  • So for example: somebody has small hands or somebody has little hands. The nuance is a

  • little bit different, and this is what you have to be careful about, nuance. If somebody

  • has small hands, it means generally physical small but if somebody has little hands, it

  • has more of the idea that he or she can do less with their hands. True, not true - I

  • don't know; I'll leave that up to you. But just remember there's a slight nuance in difference.

  • But, if you look at somebody, say: "Oh, he has such little hands." Or if you say: "Oh,

  • that person has such small hands." Most people will get the same idea. But again, context

  • might tell you it's a little bit different. Okay. When I talk about intensity, again,

  • usually something physical like somebody has a small voice. If somebody has a small voice,

  • sometimes it's a little bit hard to hear them. Did you hear that? Did you hear my small voice

  • or do you hear my big voice now? But we'll get to that after.

  • Usually, we use "little" with uncountables; money, time. "I have a little money." Not

  • "small money". Small money means like in Canada, we have a dime, 10 cents, it's a very small

  • coin but that's not what we're talking about. "A little money", when we're talking about quantity.

  • So usually when you talk about uncountables -- things you can't count and you're not talking

  • about physical size because it's not something physical, physical things you can count -- uncountables,

  • not physical things, you usually use "small". If we talk about someone's stature... Now,

  • what does "stature" mean? It means more or less like how people view this person or this

  • thing. So look at the example. For example: if I say "A small man" versus "A little man".

  • A small man means usually physically small; maybe short, maybe skinny, whatever. A little

  • man is something... we don't care about this person. Right? He's small, I can step on him

  • because he's not... doesn't have stature. A big man has a bit more stature. A large

  • man is a large man, but we'll get to that in a second.

  • When we talk about adjective of degree. When we want... we use "little" almost like an

  • adverb. So: "I'm a little tired." Not small tired, a little tired. Or if you say... and

  • that means just a little bit. Right? Not a great amount. But if I say: "I'm a little irritated."

  • I'm a little irritated means like ugh, you know, somebody made me irritated.

  • Again, context will usually tell you that "little irritated" means very irritated.

  • "Ugh, I'm a little irritated." Means I'm pissed off, to be honest, but we use "little" to

  • make it softer. Okay? But, and another thing, again this usually

  • comes back to countables or uncountables. When we're talking about countables and we

  • want to talk about the quantity, like how much we have, we say: "We have a small amount

  • of something" or "We have a small number of somethings." Again, you usually use amount

  • with uncountables, you'll use number with countables. But for both, you can use: "A

  • small amount", "A small number of". But you would say "a little" with the uncountables.

  • "I have a little time.", "I have a small amount of time to give you.", "I have a small number

  • of friends." But here you won't use "little", you will use "few" for the countables. "I

  • have a few friends." Okay? So again, if you mix the two "small" or "little",

  • most people will understand the same thing that you want them to understand. But if you

  • want the detailed differences, this is basically it. There are other small various degrees

  • of difference; very, very nuanced. But again, context will usually make that clear --which

  • one you should use or which one, or why the one that is being used is being used. Okay?

  • It's not as clear when we talk about "big" and "large". Let's look at that now.

  • Okay, so now we're going to look at "big" and "large". This is a little bit more complicated

  • because "big" and "large" are almost the same... Have almost the same meaning. There're not

  • many situations where you can't interchange them. Okay? Some people think that "large"

  • is a little bit more formal than "big" but not necessarily. "Big" and "large" can both

  • be used to talk about size and dimensions; we mentioned dimensions before. But again,

  • it's all about context. Okay? Then again, the nuances that come from the context will

  • tell you which one you should or shouldn't use.

  • So for example: if you talk about "the big boss", the big boss is basically like the

  • CEO. Right? He's the president, the top guy. He's going to be the big boss, he's at the

  • top, he's the most. If you say: "The large boss", sounds a little bit strange if what

  • you mean is CEO or president. If you say: "The large boss", I'm thinking the fat one.

  • Okay? There're two or three bosses; there's the CEO, there's a president, there's a COO,

  • etcetera. You're talking about the "large boss" -- I'm thinking about the big burly

  • guy. Okay? So I wouldn't really say "big boss" if I mean heavy guy. I wouldn't say "large

  • boss" if I mean top guy. Now, let's look at this one. You're talking

  • about your brother. "My big brother" -- what does that mean? Generally, it means older,

  • my older brother, my big brother. Okay? And if you talk about your younger brother, "my

  • little brother". He's not physically small, he's younger. Okay? So it's the same idea.

  • If you say: "my large brother", again, you're talking about a big boy, bigger than you anyway

  • -- that's why you think he's large. And again, here we go about with amount or

  • number describing a quantity. I would say: "A large number of people came to the party.",

  • "A large number of stars are in the sky." Whatever, it's not a good example but it's

  • an example. I wouldn't say: "A big number" -- it just sounds a little bit strange. It's

  • not very common to say: "a big number". Again, not wrong. If you say: "A big number of people

  • came", everybody will understand. It's fine, but not commonly heard. But if you talk about

  • amount, again, more common: "a large amount of whatever", "a large amount of money was

  • spent." But you could say: "a big amount". Most people prefer to say "large"; it just

  • sounds a little bit better for whatever reason. Now, again, here you go: context. "Large business"

  • versus "big business". Okay? "Big business" you're talking about a big company or a big

  • industry. Okay? "Large business" means you do, it does a lot of traffic, a lot of trading,

  • a lot of sales and incoming/outgoing revenues, etcetera. So I can't tell you exactly there's

  • a difference between "big" and "large", it's about context: which one sounds better? Okay?

  • You could say: "a big house", you could say: "a large house", they will mean exactly the

  • same thing. So basically, be careful about the context. If it doesn't feel right, change

  • it to the other one but don't worry about using one or the other. And if you're doing

  • a test like TOEFL or IELTS, "big" and "large" in the essay will get you the same points.

  • "Large" is not a fancy word, it's just another way of saying "big". Okay? So the best I can

  • do for you with these two. "Small" and "little", they have some variations, "big" and "large",

  • not so much. Now, let's take a look at "tall" and "high".

  • Okay, so let's look at our last one here: "tall" and "high". This one should be a little

  • bit more straightforward. Okay? When we talk about tall things, generally it's, generally

  • it's always about physical things. Not always, there are certain exceptions but mostly it's

  • about physical things. And if you want to remember, think about things that are standing.

  • Okay? So a person, like for example myself, I am standing here and I am this tall.

  • If somebody this tall is next to me, then I am tall. If somebody is here, then I am short.

  • But it doesn't matter, by talking about a person and then we're talking about tall or

  • not tall. We don't say: "A person is high." If you say: "A person is high", he's probably

  • doing something very different than studying English.

  • Anyway, if we talk about "high", generally speaking, we talk about above average, above

  • others like it. Okay? So we're talking about high ground. Okay? So let's say you have,

  • this is sea level, this is called high ground; it's above the other ground around it, above

  • sea level generally speaking. We also use "high" to talk about ideas, things that are

  • ideas; they're not real, they're not physical. High cost, the high cost of living, a high

  • price. We would never say "tall" about these things because there's nothing to compare

  • them to. They're just an idea and they're high. Okay?

  • Position, for example: an official in government, he's a high official means he has a very high

  • rank. Or we talk about high culture, people who go to the opera and drink champagne and

  • drive in limousines, they live in a slightly higher lifestyle, higher culture, etc.

  • Something when you're reaching for a peak. So for example: travelling -- the reason you

  • don't want to travel in summer is because it's high season; prices are very high then.

  • We don't use "tall" for any of these things. Okay?

  • But, in some situations you can use either one. If you describe something or someone...

  • He, let's say for example: "He is 6 feet high." It sounds a little strange. You would say:

  • "He is 6 feet tall." But if you're talking about like a wall or a door, "The door is

  • 6 feet high, six feet tall", both are okay. Okay?

  • Now, sometimes people mix these up. If we're talking about a building, some people say:

  • "It's a very tall building." Like: the World Trade Center is a very tall building. Some

  • people say: "It's a very high building." Again, depends which one you want to use. I, personally,

  • would use "tall building" because a building is standing, somebody built it, it is standing.

  • If you're talking about a mountain, I would say: "It's a high mountain." You could say:

  • "It's a tall mountain." But a mountain isn't standing, a mountain is sitting; it's been

  • there forever, it's sitting there. Nobody put it there, it's not moving so I consider

  • it sitting and therefore it's high. It's higher than the ground or the other mountains around

  • it. Okay? Again, context. Don't forget that. It's always

  • about context. Although the distinctions here are a little bit more clear. "Big" and "large",

  • not so much; "small" and "little", yes and no; "tall" and "high", more clear cut. Okay?

  • But again, if you need more practice go to www.engvid.com. There's a quiz there you can

  • try out. Also, don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, and come back again and

  • take some more lessons with us. Thank you.

Hi again. I'm Adam. Welcome back to www.engvid.com. Today's lesson is a little bit tricky. The

Subtitles and keywords

A2 BEG small large tall big high context

6 confusing words - small & little, big & large, tall & high

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    ABbla Chung   posted on 2013/09/10
Video vocabulary

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