tall vs. high

Discussion in 'English Only' started by the_one_and_only, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. the_one_and_only Senior Member

    Romania, Romanian
    Hi again,

    Could you, please, tell me if tall and high are interchangeable?
    Could you say for instance: a tall building?
  2. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    Tall and high normally are not interchangeable. Tall implies that something is of great height (is very tall itself), while high implies that something is sitting at a great height (not necessarily tall itself, but placed very high).
    A 6 story building would be tall.
    A window on the sixth floor would be very high.
  3. the_one_and_only Senior Member

    Romania, Romanian
    So is it correct to say a tall tree?
    I´ve read in an English book that tall is used for things with life in them, e.g. people, trees, etc. when high is used for the other kind of things.
    Thank you!
  4. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    You can certainly say it's a tall tree. You can also say a building is a tall building.

    The use of tall and high does not depend on whether or not they are inanimate (don't have life in them). I'm sorry, but it sounds like your book is incorrect.
  5. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    I saw someone use a novel approach to explain something a few days ago. I'm going to use a similar method. The X is the top and bottom of the two objects, below. One object is on the right, and the other is on the left.

    Tall: High:
    X X
    x X
    x *
    x *
    x *
    x *
    X *
    This is the ground.
  6. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    Your book is teaching you such nonsense here that I would wonder about its accuracy in other areas as well.

    It is absolutly correct to say "a tall building" (or a "tall flagpole", or to speak of "tall letters" on a billboard), while it would be strange to say "a high building".
  7. the_one_and_only Senior Member

    Romania, Romanian
    So could a mountain be tall then?
    Thank you again!
  8. katie_here Senior Member

    I always think of tall as an indicator of height, and high as a position of that height.

    For example.

    A person can be 6ft tall, but height as a position is 6ft high. The shelf is 6ft high and I'm only 5ft tall. The shelf is higher than me.

    You could climb a tall mountain, and be high up. High up above the clouds, Your position in the company could be high - I'm high up in the company.
  9. the_one_and_only Senior Member

    Romania, Romanian
    Thank you ever so much, to all of you!
    It´s crystal clear now!

  10. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I agree that "high" is for position, "tall" for vertical extent. "Height", the noun, is usually used for "how tall", but it can also be used for "how high".

    Somtimes people do say that mountains are high (and valleys are low), but I think they are using "mountains" as a short way to say "mountaintops". Another source of confusion is that some define a mountain as something over 1000 feet tall while others define a mountain as something whose top is over 1000 feet above sea level.

    A thousand feet above sea level may be called a height, but it is more properly called an elevation.

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