I am aware that the word "above" has lots of meanings, such as

in or to a higher position than something else;

more than an amount or level;

in a more important or advanced position than someone else.

This post focuses on the first meaning, that is, "a higher position".

The following sentence is meaningful

It's on the shelf just above your head

since it tells me where is the thing I am looking for.

Technically, the sentence is correct "the bird is above the tree", although the bird is a bit far from the tree.

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In real life, are there some situations where I need to use "above" to describe something far away?

1 Answer 1


That may depend on how far away it is. Since "above" can mean "directly over", it would be confusing if you used it at too great a distance. For very great distances, you would probably use "higher", or even "at a greater elevation/altitude".

  • Thank you. When "above" means "directly over", are "above" and "on top of" interchangeable?
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 6:13
  • No, "on top of" is more likely to mean "resting on", that is, in physical contact with. It can mean very near to and above, but that meaning is not as likely. Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 6:20

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