I'd like to ask whether the following sentence is correct and how to improve it while retaining the meaning.

  • The house being built has got most of the shape.

The intended meaning is as follows.

A house has been being built near your place. It only started 3 weeks ago, but the building has progressed so fast that now you can see the overall shape of the house. Until last week, you had no idea as to the shape of the house.

Why I chose that expression over a general one like The building has progressed a lot is because I desire to accentuate the fact written in bold in the above paragraph.

Thank you.

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    People might say that the structure of the house is almost complete, that it's now possible to see the structure of the house, or that the (overall) shape of the house is now clear.. Mar 9, 2021 at 13:48
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    What about 'is starting to take/is taking shape'? Mar 9, 2021 at 13:54
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    @SmartHumanism Yes, to see the shape is fine. But NOT has got most of its shape. That's not idiomatic. Mar 9, 2021 at 14:30
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    @SmartHumanism If you were just talking about the foundations of the house, or the floor area, you would refer to the floor plan. The shape suggests the structure. You can use shape or structure interchangeably in this context. Mar 9, 2021 at 14:33
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    I asked you what you meant by "shape" and your answer was "I mean the shape of the house". That suggests to me that you do not fully understand generality of the word "shape". You need a more specific word. Mar 9, 2021 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


A couple of idiomatic usages relevant to OP's context are...

1: The house is taking shape
2: It's shaping up [nicely1]

But it's important to note that both the above forms are almost always used somewhat metaphorically (often, in contexts where the thing being referenced doesn't even have a "shape"). So most native speakers wouldn't really think in terms of the actual shape (or even the "appearance" in general) if they heard #1 or #2 - they'd just understand that the building work is progressing well.

To convey that as the work progresses, the actual shape of the building is becoming more apparent, you'd have to say something like...

3: The superstructure is [nearly] complete, allowing us to see the emerging overall shape of the building

...but you probably wouldn't say that unless you were a builder or architect.

1 Just as all petrels are stormy, all dudgeon is high, and all fettle is fine, almost everything that's shaping up does so nicely.

  • Thank you very much for the deep insight and delicate approach as to the context and usage. It is always delightful and very helpful to read your answers. If I may add a brief question about the original expression I suggested in the post: As The house being built has got most of the shape definitely seems unnatural, then what happens with got substituted with gained? Mar 16, 2021 at 15:11
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    Nah - you can't save that statement by switching from got to gained. It's just not something an Anglophone would be likely to say. Suppose you last saw your niece when she was 11, but now she's 16 and she's got breasts and other feminine curves. Would you in your own language say anything like Gosh! You've got / gained most of your adult shape! ? I certainly wouldn't, in English (though I might say Gosh! You've filled out!). Mar 16, 2021 at 15:21
  • Thank you for the confirmation. I appreciate it. In my native language(Korean), people would not use it for people as it might sound rude, but for things like a house under construction, it is natural to use it as it sounds clear physically. It is hard time to time to grasp the native-English speaker's hidden understanding that surrounds the bound of which pattern is well composed, as it is sometimes subtle or obscure to non-native English speakers. Mar 16, 2021 at 15:55

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