English vocabulary help: high and tall explained

‘High’ and ‘tall’ are both expressions of height and can be used to describe the size of something. Though they are often used interchangeably in spoken English, ‘high’ and ‘tall’ can have slightly different meanings. Find out below how to use each word correctly.

“The building is more than 20 metres high.”

“The building is more than 20 metres tall.”

Both sound correct when used in speech, but which one is grammatically correct? Let’s first look at the definitions for each word.

**‘**Tall’ is a word that refers to the height of a person or an object. So, when someone asks you how ‘tall’ you are, they are asking for your height in inches, feet or centimetres. The same is correct for a building or a mountain.

‘Tall’ can also be used when comparing height. For example:

“That tower is taller than the one in Chicago.”

“Jesse is taller than Tom.”

‘High’ is a word that is used to describe the elevation of a something from the ground. ‘High’ can also reflect the height of something from a fixed point. For instance, a bridge such as the Golden Gate Bridge would be high from the water.

For example:

“That window is high.” (From the ground)

So which sentence is correct in the first example? Actually, both sentences are correct because a building is both elevated from the ground (high) and measurably tall (tall).