Oxford defines "close" thus:

Adj (With reference to a competitive situation) won or likely to be won by only a small amount or distance: "the race will be a close contest" "she finished a close second"

My question:

Based on the same sense of the word, can I describe the 'difference' or the 'differential' between two numbers or amounts of something as 'close'. For example:

The differential between what you owe and the credit you have is close.
The difference between their numbers of followers on Twitter is close.

Does this sound nearly native? If not, what would be? I know we usually say "small difference" but I wonder if 'close' would be more effective, especially in the second sentence.

  • In both of your examples, "small" is much more natural than "close." Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 7:18
  • Close describes a relationship between two things, not the distance between them.
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


If you use "close" in your examples, it might prompt a reader to respond "close to what?" as "close" is more idiomatic with "to" usually meaning a short distance away or apart in space or time.

You had better use "narrow" which means:

Limited in extent, amount, or scope:

or small.

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

If you Google "difference is close", many of the hits you find has "to" after "close".

You could hear "The election results are too close to call", but here "close" is used because election is also one form of competition.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.