I am curious about an English sentence, I've read in the German.Stackexchange:

Someone wrote

What's the height on that tree? (Authour: J_LV)

and after some discussion

user6191: There's height on the tree?

J_LV: There's height on the tree? You do not seem to understand the phrase "What's the height on that tree?" correctly. It's a different usage of the word "on" than what you're thinking of. And it's not incorrect either although I can perfectly understand why it would confuse a fellow German. I'd however still advise you to do your research prior to humorously implying that I misused a word.

the sentence was edited by another stack exchange user to

What's the height of this tree?

I'm confused by the discussion and cannot find an reliable reference to "being height on". Is it also correct to say What's the height on that tree?

2 Answers 2


To say there's height on is a rather unusual way of saying that something or someone is especially high or tall. It's an expression, a way of commenting on the height of an object.

When I saw a recent photograph of a nephew who now towers over his mother, I might well have said: There's height on that boy, meaning that he's really grown tall.

Similarly I might comment that there are muscles on that lad, meaning that he has grown muscular.

Generally, as you note, we speak about the height of an object or mountain but this is in a different context, generally when we are comparing or measuring things. However, you would always ask what's the height of that tree? and not on that tree?.


The preposition on is often spatial in its meaning as in The cat is on the mat but it is not exclusively so. on can express an attribute relationship.

As Ronald Sole mentions in his answer on can be used in contexts where some attribute is unusual or extreme:

Would you look at the speed on that kid! Man, can he run!

The attribute does not have to be extreme:

What's the height on that tree?

That could be a simple question, perhaps asked by someone shopping at a landscaping business for things to plant on the grounds of a newly built house, say.

A similar question might be

Can I get a price on three dozen iPads?

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