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Thread: tall and high?


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    #1

    Question tall and high?

    I wouldlike to know if there is a usage rule for tall and high. Thanks
    Maugelit

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    #2

    Re: tall and high?

    Quote Originally Posted by maugelit
    I would like to know if there is a usage rule for tall and high. Maugelit
    Welcome, Maugelit.

    tall expresses height, and it's used to compare the height of an object or living thing with the height of other objects or living things:

    That building is tall. (in comparing that building to other buildings)
    Max is tall. (in comparing Max to other people)

    high expresses elevation, and it's used to describe objects or living things having a fixed reference that have been raised or lifted upwards:

    That building is high. (That building is raised up from the ground)
    Max is high. (Max's mood is elevated; Max is high on chocolate)

    Walls are raised up, or high, and mountains, being a natural part of the landscape are elevated, or high, so if a structure, say, a building, is considered to have a fixed reference, then its elevation is expressed as 'high', but if fixed reference is not being considered, then its height is expressed as tall. A tower or a building, for example, could be viewed as either a fixed structure, e.g., a high tower; a high building, or a non-fixed structure, e.g., a tall tower; a tall building. It all depends on perception, or how we view the world around us.

    In short, the gerenal rule of thumb is: If fixed, then high, and if non-fixed, then tall, and since perception determines usage, speakers will differ. To me, the mountain is high, whereas to my colleague it's tall. Usage is a matter of how one perceives the world.


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    #3

    Re: tall and high?

    Ooh.. I always teach that 'tall' is from the ground, because I always say tall buildings, mountains and people, and that 'high' is for a point in the air, ie. airplanes, birds etc.... Is there any difference between US and British, or am I just plain wrong?!

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    #4

    Re: tall and high?

    I'm from Canada, too, and I never think of a building as being high. I agree pretty much exactly with kunminger.

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    #5

    Smile Re: tall and high?

    Buildings can be tall as well as high, depending upon what they look like.
    Any building looking like a tower will be refered to as being tall; any other building could easily be referred to as a high building.

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    #6

    Re: tall and high?

    I can see jumping from a high floor on a tall building. But a high building would be one whose foundations are already above other points of reference.

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    #7

    Re: tall and high?

    Maybe this similar perspective:

    High is how far from the ground (floor, sea level, whatever the basis is) you are.

    Tall refers to a big distance from bottom to top.

    If a 2.2 meter person is washing an external window on a building from scaffolding 20 meters up in the air, the tall person is high up.

    Just yesterday I said something about Mount Everest being the tallest mountain and my daughter corrected me. It's the highest peak above sea level, but if you count the mountain on the ocean floor, there are others that are taller from base to peak. (I need to stop sending her to school if she keeps getting smarter than I am.)

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