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When do I use "room" or "space"?

English grammar questions, answered by Alan

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When do I use "room" or "space"?

Postby Tranny » Wed Sep 22, 2004 8:00 am

I get confused of the meaning between "room" and "space". I sometimes hear people say like this:
I have plenty of room in my closet
I've got space in my closet
and many other similar situations I've heard from them.
Thank you in advance!

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Postby Alan » Fri Sep 24, 2004 9:11 am

As noncount nouns, they can be synonymous (e.g. room for the furniture= space for the furniture), but 'space' can also refer to 'outer space/the universe', and 'room' can, of course, also be a countable noun (as in 'my room').

Even when synonymous, though, there can be subtle differences: 'space' tends to be used literally (except, perhaps, in the popular expression 'personal space'), while 'room' is often metaphorical. Thus we might say

There's always room for new ideas.

but not

!There's always space for new ideas.

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