What's the difference between opposite and in front of?

the bank is opposite the mall
the bank is in front of the mall

  • What does the dictionary tell you? What are your thoughts on it? Jun 30, 2017 at 2:12
  • @Kanu If you are reading these comments, please let us know. When someone asks what your English language dictionary tells you about a word, it is because we can write a better answer for you if we know what you know. Sometimes dictionary definitions are hard for a new learner to read, and sometimes a dictionary definition isn't very clear, even to an English speaker! We can help you with that. Jun 30, 2017 at 3:00
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    @ P.E Dant Yes, thank you. I asked cause in a textbook exercise there's a picture with a mall on the left, a street, a bench on the sidewalk (on the right side of the picture) and a bank (also on the right). I hope you can visualize that. It's MALL - STREET - SIDEWALK/BENCH - BANK. The answer it brings is the mall is opposite the bank and the bench is in front of the bank, but the only difference between the mall and a the bench is a few meters, it's the same position... Jun 30, 2017 at 3:43
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    So, it looked like I could say the bench in opposite the bank and the mall is in front of the bank. The dictionary says opposite is facing/across from. In front of is before or ahead like in a classroom or line. Anyway, the bench and the mall are facing the bank Jun 30, 2017 at 3:44
  • @Kanu Thanks for the going to the effort; upvoted. I think Lijero's answer is more or less correct intuitively, but note that even the OED doesn't mention the "something in between" factor. I think that either term could be used with or without something in between, largely dependent on what that thing is. (Is a big patch of grass a thing or nothing?) But for distinguishing between them, I think it's exactly right. The street divides the mall from the bank, but not the bench from the bank. Jun 30, 2017 at 4:16

2 Answers 2


When one thing is across something from the other, especially a dividing line or space (like a road), we use opposite to. For example, the bank is across the street from the mall, so it is opposite to the mall.

If the bank and the bench aren't separated by anything but (for example) lawn, then the bench is in front of the bank.

I cannot reply to Luke Sawczak's comment, but Merriam Webster definition 1 a an example of this definition in a dictionary.


in front of

has more the meaning

directly opposite to

that two things are

facing each other



means on "opposing sides"

The ministers sit opposite each other, some are directly in front of others. The *Speaker's Bench is **in front* of everyone.

In this example

Foot Locker and McDonald's are opposite each other and there is a subway entrance in front of Foot Locker and another in front of McDonald's, or more specifically directly in front of. The bus is also in front of McDonald's and opposite Foot Locker. The street lamps are in front of the buildings.

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