Ask the Editor
Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
The Difference Between Enlarge and Increase
Thursday April 20th 2017
Can we say "enlarge" your knowledge, or is it better to use "increase"? — Ines, Argentina

Enlarge and increase are both used to mean "to become larger" but they are used to talk about different kinds of things. Enlarge is usually used to talk about something that is physically becoming or being made larger, such as a photograph, the writing on a sign or advertisement, or a swollen body part. Below are some examples of how it is used:

  • We wanted to enlarge the photo and frame it for her as a Mother's Day gift.
  • They enlarged the text on their website to make it easier to read.
  • The doctor found an enlarged lymph node in the patient's neck.
  • The school decided to enlarge the restrooms.

Increase is used to talk about the physical size of things, but it is also used to talk about the growth of non physical things such as feelings and knowledge. It is also used to talk about a growing amount or number of something, such as student enrollment in a school or sales for a business. Below are some examples of how it is used:

  • Her fear increased the higher they climbed on the mountain.
  • The parents felt their happiness increase when they watched their son play.
  • The teacher's hands-on approach helped her students increase their knowledge rapidly.
  • The company's sales increased rapidly in their first two years.
  • She watched the water level in the lake increase slowly throughout the rainy months.
  • The swelling in her leg increased overnight.


I hope this helps.


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