Common Adjectives For Size And Shape

Learn common adjectives for size and shape. Don’t say “small” or “big.” Use better words to say “big.”

This English lesson is useful for students studying for IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, and other English proficiency exams, as well as those looking to improve their written and spoken English.

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List of English adjectives

Common Adjectives For Size And Shape

So in this advanced English lesson, we’re looking at collocations to do with size, dimensions and quantity.

Some of them are a little bit tricky on the tongue for pronunciation. So I’ll try and practice that at the same time. Any problems, you come back and you can ask me and we can go through it again.

So let me go through these English collocations. I’ve got 12 situations here that we can use with meanings and examples.


Meaning: really really small, tiny

a minuscule piece of cloth


She was wearing a very short skirt which her father described as minuscule.

My wife has me on a diet. I’m only getting minuscule portions for my dinner.


Meaning: very big, large

a mammoth task/job


It was a mammoth job, but we knew that we could do it over time.

Transferring all the data to the new system was a mammoth task.

Common Adjectives For Size And Shape

Learn common adjectives for size and shape. Advanced English lessons on Zoom and Skype. #learnenglishnglish


Meaning: extremely big, huge

a vast room


The ballroom was a vast room forty feet high, sixty feet in length, and as wide as it was high.

The parliamentary meeting room in government buildings is a vast room.


Meaning: extremely large, greater than the average size or amount

a gigantic wave/statue


Tsunamis produce gigantic waves that come onto the shore and destroy all the buildings in close proximity to the shore.

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Meaning: very large, enormous

a gargantuan meal/appetite


It was a gargantuan meal that took several enjoyable hours to eat.

Climate change is a problem of gargantuan proportions.


Meaning: extremely small, tiny


You’ll feel like Gulliver at a Lilliputian dinner party trying to sit at this itsy-bitsy table.

Here is the famous nursery rhyme for you:

The itsy-bitsy spider climbing up the spout.

Down came the rain

And washed the spider out.

Out came the sun

And dried up all the rain

And the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the drain again.

There is a song as well:

An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini…


Meaning: extremely small, almost impossible to see

a tiny spot/baby/flower


I had to take my coat to the dry cleaners because there was a tiny spot on it.

There’s only a tiny spot on the coat. You’d hardly notice it.

Common Adjectives For Size And Shape

Learn common adjectives for size and shape. Advanced English lessons on Zoom and Skype. #learnenglishnglish


Meaning: huge, really big

a colossal sum of money


The highest amount won in EuroMillions is €190 million. It’s a colossal sum of money! What could you possibly do with that?


Meaning: small, delicate, often moving in a careful way

dainty feet/appearance


Cinderella had dainty feet. She also had perfect skin, flaxen hair, and a heart of gold.

She had small dainty feet that suited her petite frame.


Meaning: big but awkward and difficult

bulky luggage


Could you help me with this luggage? It’s really bulky and it needs two people.

Upon arrival, you can pick up your bulky baggage at the separate counter in the baggage hall, near carousel 7.


Meaning: immeasurably small

an infinitesimal dose/number


At the moment, solar panels and wind turbines provide an infinitesimal amount of the necessary energy.

They are ready to demonstrate that an infinitesimal dose of medicine has power.


Meaning: very small

a dwarf cherry tree


If you have a small garden and want to grow cherries, you can opt for a dwarf cherry tree.

speak better English with Harry podcast- episode 406

Okay, so we’ve got lots of these expressions, these English collocations that are connected with dimensions, sizes, and quantity. Let me give them to you one more time:

  • a minuscule piece of cloth
  • a mammoth job
  • a vast room
  • a gigantic wave 
  • a gargantuan meal
  • itsy-bitsy spider
  • a tiny spot
  • a colossal sum
  • dainty feet
  • bulky luggage
  • an infinitesimal dose (homoeopathy)
  • a dwarf cherry tree

Enjoy those particular collocations in his advanced English class. You’ll probably have to listen to it a couple of times.

Some of them are really difficult not only because of the meaning but also in terms of pronunciation.

So pick a few of them, and practice them. If you’re going to practice the pronunciation, try practising in front of the mirror or indeed use your mobile phone. Record yourself. Listen back and see where you have to make changes and listen to my pronunciation as well.

And if you need any further examples, you know the drill by now, come back to me and I’ll help you.

Don’t forget about our online English lessons with native teachers, book a trial.

Thanks for watching and listening. See you again soon.

more information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

The difference between Seem, Look, Appear

Understanding the grammar of Phrasal Verbs

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC and British Council Learn English.

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