Big vs Large vs Great

With tangible nouns (you can touch and see) we prefer big or large.

After he won the lottery, he bought the largest house in the city.

There is a big field next to our house.

Other Vocabulary:
Lie vs Lay
All vs Whole
See vs Watch vs Look
Dead vs Death vs Died
Accept vs Except vs Expect
Altogether vs All Together
Fit or Suit
Affect or Effect
Advice vs Advise
Similar English Words

Big vs Large

We are more likely to call a tall and thin building big than large.

Large is a bit more formal and stronger word than big and there are some cases we prefer large over big or vice versa. Large also emphasizes 'big in more than one dimensions' area / volume.

We need a larger cup. (Need more volume)

We need a bigger knife.(No volume emphasized)

I wear large size clothing.
This is a large backyard. (big in length and width)
I've never seen such a big bear. (No emphasis on the bear's volume / area)


We can also use great with tangible nouns, however, it means “wonderful / important”

President Abraham Lincoln was a great leader who sought peacefulness, perhaps above all else. (Great means important)
I bought a great car last week. (great means wonderful)

With intangible nouns (you cannot touch and see) we usually prefer great.

There was a great amount of involvement for the charity walk.
You really look great in that red dress.
Egyptians showed great respect for the Pharaohs.


We can also use big with abstract but countable nouns informally.

I know I made a big mistake, but I will make up for it.
We've got a big problem.

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