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What is the different between high and tall?

highest mountain and tallest mountain?

I found the following sentence. The write seem imply that high and tall are different.

"Please get that right, as you are doing a disservice by posting incorrect information. Everest is merely the highest mountain and the second tallest."

highest and second tallest? What does he mean?

David L.

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Nov 7, 2007
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Everest is the mountain whose summit attains the greatest distance above sea level. Several other mountains are sometimes claimed as alternative "tallest mountains on Earth". Mauna Kea in Hawaii is tallest when measured from its base; it rises over 10,200 m (6.3 mi) when measured from its base on the mid-ocean floor, but only attains 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level.
By the same measure of base to summit, Denali, in Alaska, is also taller than Everest.
quote: good old Wikipedia
In this context, height is measured from sea-level, whilst how tall a mountain is, is measured from its actual base, which could be miles down in the ocean.


No Longer With Us
Oct 19, 2006
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I have to say I have not in general found "tall" related to mountains - and Wikipedia is not really a touchstone of accuracy.

Tall = of more than average height, or of a particular height

High = (especially of things that are not living) being a large distance from top to bottom or a long way above the ground, or having the stated distance from top to bottom

As to the example sentence - we need to know what the poster is referring to as the tallest mountain since Everest is being compared to another mountain.


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Feb 9, 2008
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What kind of things are tall?

We use tall mostly for people, trees, buildings with many floors, and a few other things which are higher than they are wide (e.g. factory chimneys or electricity pylons).

How tall are you? (NOT How high are you)

There are some beautiful tall trees at the end of our garden.

In other cases we usually prefer high.

Mount Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe.

The garden's got very high walls.


In measurements, we use tall for people, but we prefer high for things.

I am 1m 84 tall.

That three is about 30m high

distances above the ground

We use high to talk about distance above the ground. A child standing on a chair maybe higher than her mother, although she is probably not taller.

That shelf is too high for me to reach.

The clouds are very high today.

parts of the body

Parts of the body can be long, but not all.

Alice has got beautiful long legs. (NOT ... tall legs.)

A courtesy from an English teacher.
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