Welcome to the Easy English Blog! Last month we focused on the words big vs large vs tall. This month we’ll explain their opposites: small vs short vs tiny. Small, short, and tiny are adjectives just like big, large, and tall.
Each of these words means “not large,” but we’re here to explain the difference so you know when to use each!
Small describes something below average in size (either in how big something is or if it is important).
He has a small car. (The car is not big.)
She has a small salary. (She is not paid much.)
He is a small man. (He is not very important.)
The children performed a small task. (The task was either not very big, or not very important.)
You may not hear small in reference to importance very often. It’s an older definition of the word. However, it’s still good to add to your vocabulary so if you hear it or read it in certain situations, you will understand what is meant.
Short is used to talk about how long or tall something is (or not long or tall). You can use short to describe time, books, words and sentences, hair, legs, and people. Here it is really important to know the difference between small vs. short!
He is short for a man. (His height is shorter than average.)
I have short hair. (The length of my hair is shorter than average.)
It will just be a short trip. (The vacation won’t last many days.)
You cannot use small in any of these examples, so it’s important to really understand small vs. short.
Tiny is smaller than small. In fact, its definition is “very small.” It is used to describe very small things when you think using the word “small” is still too big to describe it/them.
The ladybug is tiny. (The ladybug / ladybird is a very small bug.)
The baby’s feet were tiny compared to mine. (The baby’s feet were smaller than small!)
EspressoEnglish.com also has a nice page about all these differences if you are still looking for more examples. Check them out!
Now you’re prepared to talk about all things small, short, tiny, big, large, and tall!
Try your own practice sentences, send them to us in the comments below, and we’ll help you if you are still having trouble understanding the difference between small vs short vs tiny.
Ready to start learning English? What are you waiting for? Read more about our native-speaking English teachers, and about how online English lessons are the fastest way to proficiency.
Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and must confess that all this talk about small reminds her of Blink 182s All the Small Things!