Difference Between Tall and High

Tall vs High

There are pairs of words in English language that are near synonyms but are still different in meanings as they are to be used in different contexts. One such pair is that containing the words tall and high. Most people would say that they understand the meaning of these two words and also the differences between them. However, these words, because of their similarities, pose lots of difficulties for non natives as they seem to use them interchangeably which causes problems. This article attempts to highlight the differences between tall and high to enable readers to use them in right contexts.


Tall is a word that refers to height of a person or an object. So when your teacher asks you how tall you are, he is actually interested in knowing the height in inches or meters. The same is true for a building or a mountain, as when its height is told in meters, when talk about their tallness. So a person can be tall or short depending upon his height. Two people can be compared on the basis of their height and thus we know who is taller between the two.


High is a word that is used to describe the elevation of a structure from the ground. So a building is high as it is raised from the ground. Herein lies the catch. A building can be tall as well as high. However, tall reflects the fact the building is taller or shorter in comparison to other buildings. On the other hand, high building reflects its elevation from the ground.

High has another meaning, and it relates to the emotional state of a person. It could also relate to the body temperature of the person as when we say that a person has a high fever. A person is said to be high when he has had alcohol or any other drugs.


What is the difference between Tall and High?

• Tall is to be used for living things mostly though it can be said that inanimate objects are also tall such as when we say that the building is tall.

• High is not used for living things, and it is always used for inanimate objects such as a high bridge and a mountain

• High refers to elevation from the ground as when we say that the airplane is flying high