I am a foreign person who is trying to learn English hard. So thankfully, I would like get your answer.

The following is an explanation about the meaning of the word "shallow"(adjective) in Oxford English Learner's Dictionary.

not having much distance between the top or surface and the bottom

And I wonder what kinds of modifiers can also come before "distance" instead of "much" in that expression. Like among large/long/huge/big etc.

If you add some explanation why, then it would be what I will be even greatly more grateful for.

Thank you. :)


All of the adjectives you have suggested can be used to modify "distance," although all except "much" require the indefinite article, as in "a huge distance," "a large distance," "a long distance," and "a big distance."

Please note that "shallow" can also be applied to a person, meaning, "someone who is superficial, intellectually unsophisticated, primarily interested in material possessions," and so forth.

  • Thank you for the sophisticated answer! Your explanation is so helpful and precise. Can I ask you why no indefinite article is required when it comes to "much distance", unlike other cases? Feb 1 '16 at 17:42
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    That is an excellent question! I found this information online: "Do not use articles with ... his, her, its, ours, their, whose, this, that, these, those, all, any, each, either, every, few, many, more, most, much, neither, several, some." Here is the link: edb.utexas.edu/minliu/pbl/ESOL/help/libry/speech.htm However, some of their examples are not clear, so be careful! From another source, "Much" is called a "quantifier." For more information about quantifiers, see dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/… Feb 1 '16 at 19:02
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    The link to the Cambridge dictionary article reminded me of this other question: ell.stackexchange.com/q/41395/9161 that might be interesting to @SmartHumanism Quantifiers can be tricky.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 1 '16 at 21:34
  • @MarkHubbard Thank you for your kind explanation, and your effort that you gave to both me and this community. Your reply is elaborate and elegant and sophisticated and warm-hearted. Thanks! Your answers are so helpful Mar 16 '16 at 16:49
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    @SmartHumanism- Thank you very much for accepting my answer and for your expression of appreciation. It means a lot to me. I'm glad I was able to help. With kind regards, Mar 16 '16 at 17:30

Different adjectives for distance can be used

various sizes are usually best


however apparel sizes like extra large do not work

neither do adjectives for time or temperature or taste


  • My understanding is that the OP is specifically asking about "not having ___ distance" from the particular example listed in the question. You wouldn't typically say "not having medium distance", for example.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 31 '16 at 20:06
  • Thank you for your answer very much, but all the adjectives related to size you mentioned above can be used in front of distance in the example? Feb 1 '16 at 17:44
  • You would need to add a: "not a large distance, not a small distance, not a tiny distance; or being a: not being a large distance
    – Peter
    Feb 2 '16 at 18:22

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