English Language Blog

Room or space? Posted by on Mar 7, 2022 in English Grammar, English Language, English Vocabulary

Hello to all readers! Is everything okay with you these days? Well, there is always room for improvement, right? Especially when it comes to learning a foreign language, there’s this constant feeling that we could always learn something new. For example, have you ever wondered about the difference between the words ‘room’ and ‘space’ in English? It is common for non-native speakers to mistake one for the other, since they can be used interchangeably in some situations. It depends primarily on the context that they are being used. So it’s time to make room for some grammar! Today we are going to over a few examples and pratice how to use room and space correctly.

Restaurants must leave a space of two meters between tables (Photo by Igor Starkov from Pexels)

So let’s begin with the definitions:

SPACE – a broader concept, it refers to a place or surface which can be vacant or occupied, it can also be a gap, a free area.

ROOM – a space that can be occupied, where something can be done or an object can be placed. It is normally associated with the idea of a purpose or of there being enough capacity.

Have a look at these sentences below:

  • Restaurants are allowed to reopen provided they leave a space of two meters between tables.

In this case, space refers to the empty area separating the tables. The word ‘room’ would be suitable here.

  • No more for me, thanks! Otherwise I won’t have room for dessert.

‘Room’ here is related to an enclosed space to be occupied with something (the stomach with some food).

She needed some space so they broke up (Photo by Pixabay from Pexels)

  • Lisa broke up with her boyfriend because she needed some space.

‘Space’ in this example is more abstract and not physical, the person wants to spend some time alone, away from their partner.

  • When our family went to Lisbon, we had to book three hotel rooms.

‘Room’ is also a bedroom or a part of a house, in which case it is countable and can be used in the plural.

  • There are many parking spaces in this parking lot, we can park our car here.

‘Space’ here is used as the slots available for cars in a determined space, so it can be plural.

  • With remote work on the increase, many companies have decided to cut down on office space.

There’s plenty of space in the trunk (Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from Pexels)

We use ‘space’ in this case as it refers to the size and dimensions of a certain place.

But in some cases, both room and space can be used interchangeably, without altering the meaning of the sentence:

  • I have to delete some files. There’s no room/space (meaning capacity) on my hard disk.
  • This living room is too small, you have no room/space for an armchair.
  • Do you have enough room/space in your car for five people?
  • I cleared up some room/space in the wardrobe so you can hang some of your clothes.
  • There’s plenty of room/space in the trunk, feel free to bring as many bags as you want for the trip.

And then, of course, there are collocations with room and space, meaning that only one of the words would go well together with another one. But this is a topic for next time! Stay tuned and catch up with you later!

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