Distances and dimensions

You probably know all the common words for distances and dimensions. In this unit we shall concentrate on derived words and compounds and other connected words/phrases you may not know or be unsure of how to use accurately.

Broad and wide and tall and high

Wide is more common than broad, e.g. It’s a very wide road/garden/room.
Make a note of typical collocations for broad as you meet them, e.g. Economics is a very broad subject; We came to a broad expanse of grassland, [big area]
Note the word order for talking about dimensions, e.g. The room’s five metres long and four wide.
Don’t forget that tall is for people but can be used for things such as buildings and trees when they are high and thin in some way. Otherwise, use high for things.

She’s very tall for a five-year-old.
Her office is in that tall building in the square.
There are some high mountains in the North.

Deep = shallow

The deep and shallow ends of a swimming pool.

Derived words, phrases and compounds

long: Let’s measure the length of this rope.

I swam 20 lengths (of the swimming pool).
I’ve lengthened her skirt for her. [shorten, see below]
Getting a visa’s a lengthy process, [usually refers to time; rather negative]
Can I make a long-distance phone call?

short: The new road will shorten our journey by ten minutes.
There’s a short-cut to the station, [quick way]
wide: Let’s measure the width of the room.
They’re widening the road.
broad: I want to broaden my experience, [usually more abstract contexts]
high: The height of the wall is two metres.
The fog heightened the feeling of mystery, [usually used only for feelings and emotions]
low: You can lower that table if it is too high,
far: He loves travelling to faraway places,
deep: the depth of the river here is about 3 metres.
His death so soon after hers deepened our sadness even further, [often with feelings]

Other verbs for dimensions and for changing them.

Our garden stretches all the way to the river, so we have plenty of room to extend the house if we want to.
The cities are spreading and the countryside is shrinking.