These jeans aren’t big enough for me.

These jeans are too small for me.

If I understand right, these sentences have the same meaning. But, in practise, it is used only the second version [NGram]. Could you explain why?

  • 2
    You've got to take NGrams with a grain of salt. They only survey written material, and they don't survey ALL written material, only that which Google can get access to. In AmE practice, there is a bias towards the second, but the first is used. As to why, smaller clothes (and forms) are probably seen as more attractive, and I'd bet that aren't big enough may be used with larger items like jackets more frequently. Jan 13, 2022 at 20:34
  • 3
    @FeliniusRex - If jeans don't fit, of course it's because they are too small, not because I am big. Nobody wants to say or imply that they are fat or even bigger than the smallest jeans size. Jan 13, 2022 at 21:15
  • Yeah, there's nothing wrong with the first sentence, but for clothes, it's probably generally just more common to say something is "too X" rather than "not (opposite of X) enough".
    – cruthers
    Jan 13, 2022 at 21:22

1 Answer 1


As observed, the problem really is in the Ngram. Removing jeans from the search, and comparing "are too small" to "aren't big enough" shows some use of the second option. And there are definitely idiomatic situations where only "not big enough" is the only appropriate choice, like "This town ain't big enough for the both of us."


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