BIG vs LARGE – two powerful brothers

Hi everyone, today our topic for the agenda is which adjective to use and when: BIG or LARGE? Before jotting down a few lines about this, I browsed through several online resources to refresh my own knowledge on the subject.

To my pleasant surprise, the question about BIG and LARGE is a very simple one (it may be regarded as an extremely complex issue if to delve into the matter thoroughly, but we are not PhDs in the English semantics, so I think we should stick with the common, primitive approach:)) So, relax at once and feel easy about this: the basic rule is that BIG and LARGE are close kin, so you are welcome to use them interchangeably in 99% of your utterances. Really, do not be afraid to confuse LARGE with BIG because they are identical twins. Thus, when you are speaking, before deciding whether to say “a big tree” or “a large tree” remember that you can go with both.

Let me accentuate on this point once again: BIG and LARGE are very much like each other. So, instead of worrying about which one to use, enjoy the freedom so that perfection will come along with experience.

OK, I understand that you are still interested in the actual difference between the two colleagues.

Firstly, BIG is older than LARGE in the English language. BIG is “more” English than LARGE bacause the latter originated from French several centuries later after BIG had already been successfully in use in English. Due to its French descent, LARGE is deemed more formal than BIG – so, congratulations! – you have got the first real difference.:))

BIG boasts its important position in the first 1000 most common words of the English language, while LARGE lags far behind having stuck somewhere in the third thousand of most common English words. Consequently, you can expect to hear BIG lot more often that LARGE.

A lot of people tend to use LARGE when talking about area and volume (remember, BIG can also be used in these cases), for instance “a large field”, “a large room”, “a large house”.

When we describe the impressive outer size of an object, a certain preference is given to BIG: “a big tree”, “a big house”.

BIG is also often used in connection with other concepts than size, i.e. importance, power: “a big brother”, “a big problem”.

Finaly, BIG is quite often met in the so-called still phrases or other idiomatic expressions – “big gun”, “big shot”, etc.

I hope I have shed some light on the companionship between LARGE and BIG.

Be yours easy English!


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