How to use Big, Large and Great

With concrete nouns – the names of things you can see, touch etc – we mostly use big and large. Big is most common in an informal style.

  • Get your big feet off my flowers.
  • She is a small woman, but she has very large feet.
  • It was a large house, situated near the river.

Great is not normally used simply to talk about physical size. In an informal
style, it is often used with concrete nouns to mean ‘wonderful’.

  • I’ve just got a great new flat.

And it can also be used with meanings like ‘large and impressive’.

  • Great clouds of smoke rose above the burning cathedral.

Another meaning is ‘famous’ or ‘important’.

  • Do you think Napoleon was really a great man?

Great is common with abstract nouns – the names of things you cannot see,
touch etc.

  • I have great respect for her ideas. (NOT big/large respect)
  • His behavior caused great annoyance. (NOT big/large annoyance)
  • You are making a great mistake.
  • Her work showed a great improvement last year.

Big can be used with countable abstract nouns in an informal style.

  • You’re making a big mistake.
  • Big bargains for weekend shoppers!

Large is used with countable abstract nouns referring to quantities, amounts and proportions.

  • We’re thinking of giving your firm a very large order.
  • There was a large error in the accounts.
  • She spent large sums on entertaining.
  • He wrote a large part of the book while he was in hospital.

Big and large are not generally used with uncountable nouns – but note the fixed expressions big business, big trouble.

Large is a ‘false friend’ for speakers of some languages. It does not mean
‘wide’.

  • The river is 100 meters wide. (Nor … 100 meters large.)

Big, large, great exercise

Complete the following sentences using big, large or great.

1. I think she is making a …………………… mistake.

a) big b) large c) either could be used here

2. His work shows …………………… intelligence.

a) great b) big c) either could be used here

3. You have got rather ………………………… feet.

a) large b) great c) either could be used here

4. I have ……………………. respect for her ideas.

a) great b) large c) either could be used here

5. You have got ……………………… luggage.

a) large b) great c) neither could be used here

6. Do you think Winston Churchill was really a ……………………….. man?

a) great b) big c) either could be used here

7. The river is 100 meters ……………………

a) wide b) large c) either could be used here

Answers

1. I think she is making a big mistake. (Large is not normally used with abstract nouns.)

2. His work shows great intelligence.

3. You have got rather large feet.

4. I have great respect for her ideas.

5. You have got a lot of luggage. (Words like big, great or large cannot be used with uncountable concrete nouns.)

6. Do you think Winston Churchill was really a great man?

7. The river is 100 meters wide.

  1. There is a nice house with a  garden.
  2. Albert Eintsein was a  physicist.
  3. She is a very  child for her age.
  4.  rate of inflation makes exports uncompetitive.
  5. My mother is six feet .
  6. He is making a  mistake.
  7. Can you see the  trees behind the lake?
  8. The city has a  level of pollution.
  9. This pullover isn’t  enough.
  10. My grandfather lived to a  age.

Answers⇓

  1. There is a nice house with a big garden.

  2. Albert Eintsein was a great physicist.

  3. She is a very tall child for her age.

  4. high rate of inflation makes exports uncompetitive.

  5. My mother is six feet tall.

  6. He is making a big mistake.

  7. Can you see the big trees behind the lake?

  8. The city has a high level of pollution.

  9. This pullover isn’t big enough.

  10. My grandfather lived to a great age.

Share

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *