big / large

When talking about physical size, we use big for most cases. Large is a little more formal.

  • Everyday: Elephants are big animals.
  • In a textbook: Elephants are large mammals found in Africa and Asia.

    In informal English, we use “large” for size when talking about clothes and drinks:

  • I ordered a big coffee with milk.
  • I ordered a large coffee with milk.
  • Sizes for shirts, socks, and other clothing items are small, medium, and large. The word big is often used in collocations with a happening or event, for example:
  • a big accomplishment
  • a big decision
  • a big disappointment
  • a big failure
  • a big improvement
  • a big mistake
  • a big surprise

    The word large is often used in collocations involving numbers and measurements.

  • a large amount
  • a large collection
  • a large number
  • a large population
  • a large proportion
  • a large quantity
  • a large scale