Distance, dimension, Size in people and things


The most common way of asking about distance is probably:

  • How far is it? Is it a long way? Is it a long way? Is it very far? Is it very far?
  • No, just round the corner. / a couple of minutes’ walk (= very near).
  • No, not far. / No, about five or ten minutes’ walk (= quite near).
  • Yeah quite a long way. / Yeah, over a mile.
  • Yes it’s a long way. / Yes it’s miles. / Yes it’s too far to walk.


  • We can use far in a question or negative but not in a positive statement on its own
  • We don’t say ‘it’s far’, we say ‘it’s a long way’. But we can say ‘it’s too far to walk’.

Size and dimension

We can describe size using the nouns above or the adjectives formed from them, like this:

  • What’s the length/width/height/depth/size of …?
  • How long/wide/high/tall/deep/big is …?


• We generally use tall to describe people, trees and buildings; and high to describe mountains. We also say high-rise buildings.

• Notice also that in the answer to these questions, an adjective follows the measurement: The garden is about ten metres wide. (= The width is about ten metres.)

Size in people and things

We use different words to describe the size of people and things:

  • a tall girl     (not a short girl)
  • a fat person    (not a thin person)
  • a long book (= many pages)    (not a short book)
  • a deep lake (= many metres)   (not a shallow lake)
  • a thick book (not a thin book)
  • a wide road    (not a narrow road)


  • We can use big or large to describe size in English, but not great.
  • For English speaking people, great (infml) = fantastic.
  • But we can use great before big to say that something is very big, e.g. I saw a great big dog in the park.
  • If you want to ask about size in clothes, you say: What size are you? or What size (shoes) do you take? If you don’t know, then you need someone to measure you.