Common Opposites in English

An antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning of another word...


  • Able – Unable

You must be able to speak French for this job.
She was unable to hide her excitement.

  • Above – Below

I heard a strange noise coming from the room above.
I could hear voices in the courtyard below my window.

  • Absent – Present

Students who are regularly absent from school.
The gases present in the Earth’s atmosphere.

  • Abundant – Scarce

Fish are abundant in the lake.
Food was often scarce in the winter.

  • Accept – Decline

Rick accepted her offer of coffee.
His school reports said that he never declines a challenge.

  • Add – Subtract

If you add all these amounts together you get a huge figure.
If you subtract 6 from 9, you get 3.

  • Admit – Deny

A quarter of all workers admit to taking time off when they are not ill.
The department denies responsibility for what occurred.

  • Adore – Hate

She adores working with children.
I hate to see you unhappy.

  • Advantage – Disadvantage

Her experience meant that she had a big advantage over her opponent.
The disadvantage of the material is that it fades in strong sunlight.

  • Against – For

Mr. Howard has declared that he is against all forms of racism.
Everybody is always for peace.

  • Agree – Disagree

If she felt he was right, she would agree with him.
He is tolerant of those who disagree with him.

  • None – All

We saw several houses but none we really liked.
Have you done all your homework?

  • Defend – Attack

There have been several attacks on foreigners recently.
We need to defend against military aggression.

  • Before – After

I saw her a few days before she died.
I go swimming every day after work.

  • Big – Little

They belong to the rich man who lives in the big white house there among the trees.
He was quite an old little man and his head was long and entirely bald.

  • Birth – Death

What’s your date of birth?
Cancer is the leading cause of death in women.

  • Interesting – Boring

I trudged through a boring day, knowing I’d return to an empty apartment as Betsy was off to Los Angeles for the entire week.
Dr. Bell told me many interesting things about his work.

  • Top – Bottom

I waited for them at the bottom of the hill.
She was standing at the top of the stairs.

  • Legal – Illegal

What the company has done is perfectly legal.
They were involved in illegal activities.

  • Long – Short

He stretched out his long legs.
I’ve only been in Brisbane a short time.

  • Maximum – Minimum

The car has a maximum speed of 120 mph.
The minimum number of students we need to run the course is fifteen.


  • Cheap - Expensive

Property is cheaper in Spain than here.
Petrol is becoming more and more expensive.

  • Chilly - Warm

Despite the chilly autumn afternoon, she was wearing a thin cotton dress.
I hope we get some warm weather soon.

  • Cold - Hot

Let's get in out of this cold wind.
In dry gourds, they were served a hot tea made from the ground leaves of something Bordeaux called the lip fern.

  • Complex - Simple

It was a very complex relationship between two complex people.
I’m sure there’s a perfectly simple explanation.

  • Dark - Bright

At the kitchen door she nearly ran into a dark form.
With his small frame and bright eyes, he'd always reminded her of an elf of some sort.

  • Difficult - Easy

The exam was very difficult.
Finishing the task will be easy.

  • Early - Late

The bus was ten minutes early.
You’re half an hour late.

  • Empty - Full

The fuel tank’s almost empty.
The kitchen was full of smoke.

  • Interior - Exterior

The dome is tiled on the exterior.
The interior of the church was dark.

  • Fast - Slow

I’m a fast learner.
The wound was slow to heal.

  • Gentle - Rough

Arthur was a very gentle, caring person.
Rugby is a very rough sport.

  • Giant - Tiny

Giant cabbages grew in the garden.
You only need to use a tiny amount of salt.

  • High - Low

The camp was surrounded by a high fence.
The sun was low in the sky.

  • Increase - Decrease

The population increased dramatically in the first half of the century.
The number of people who have the disease has decreased significantly in recent years.

  • Large - Small

Los Angeles is the second largest city in the US.
The T-shirt was too small for him.

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Common Opposites in English

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