Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you been to a place that is really crowded?

On the other end of it, have you been somewhere that is completely empty?

Talking about how crowded or empty a place is comes up often in conversation.

We’re going to show you how to discuss both extremes, and how they come up in English conversations all the time.

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Understanding When Something Is Packed

There will be many scenarios that you come across where a place is crowded.

This means that there are a lot of people, and it tends to be a big part of conversation.

Many times, you may say crowded to describe a place that is filled with a lot of people.

There’s another way to say it, and that word is “packed.”

That’s a more unique way to say it was crowded.

It’s important to be able to convey the atmosphere, and how many people were in a place.

It connects you to people because you can plan for these situations, warn people, or simply comment on it when you are together.

When it comes to planning or just talking to people, you will find that discussing how crowded or packed a place is comes up quite a bit.

Knowing how to talk about it can be quite helpful since it’s a common source of conversation.

Talking Through A Crowded Space

How else can we say a place is crowded or packed?

Sure you can say that a place is crowded or packed, and that works just fine.

There are other times though, where you might wish to use a different word or phrase.

Here are a couple of other options when you are trying to describe a crowded space.

  • Standing Room Only: You would tend to hear this term used at a theater or sporting event, perhaps even on public transportation. You might hear a bus driver or a bouncer at a club say that there’s standing room only. It means that the space is very packed! You might hear, “It’s standing room only in there. You can’t get a seat!”
  • Jammed/Jam Packed: It means that the place is as full as it can possibly be. There are usually people everywhere in this situation. Here is an example, “This bar is jam packed and everyone here is a college student- I feel so old!”
  • Stuffed: Yes you say this to describe a situation where you ate too much, but it can apply here as well. You could say this, “This place is stuffed with people. You can’t move an inch!”
  • Filled to the rafters: This is a more unusual or less traditional way of saying crowded, but it works well. It means that there is not an ounce of extra space. It would sound like this, “Oh my goodness look at this- it’s filled to the rafters in here. Can we go somewhere else?”

There are many more, but these phrases and words work quite well.

This goes to show that talking about how crowded a place is comes up a lot in conversation.

Talking About The Opposite of Crowded

There are times when you will find that nobody is at a place that you go to.

This is the complete opposite and talking about a place being empty comes up often as well.

Here are a few terms you can use to talk about a place being the opposite of crowded.

  • Dead: It may sound unusual, but in this context it means that there is nobody at this location. Example: “This place is dead. Let’s get out of here and go to a better spot.”
  • Empty: It’s pretty straightforward and to the point, but it works. It means that there’s nobody there and it’s void of any or many people. For example, “I’m fine with that club, but it tends to be empty on Wednesdays. How about Thursday instead?”
  • Deserted: It means that it looks as if people have almost abandoned the place. It may feel as if there isn’t anybody to be found at all. Example: “I can’t believe it. It’s deserted here. It used to be the most popular bar in town.”
  • Barren: This is a bit extreme, but it works quite well. This really drives the point home that nobody is there at all. Example: “It’s barren in here. Ugh I knew we should have waited until 10 to go out!”

There are pros and cons to a place being empty, and now you know how to discuss it in English.

Roleplay To Help

In this example, Lindsay convinced Michelle to try a new bar even though she didn’t want to go out!

L: So what do you think?

M: Uh, seems nice but sorry, it’s barren in here.

L: I know I’m sorry! Does it matter?

M: I guess not…other places are usually filled to the rafters so maybe this is ok.

L: It’s not completely empty here. Look–there’s a group of people coming in!

M: Oh right now it’s standing room only (sarcastic!)


It’s good to be able to describe places as empty or packed.

It helps with logistics AND connection, and it’s a common part of everyday English conversations.

You can use these phrases to describe other places as crowded or not.

Do you like places to be empty or crowded?

Now you know how to talk about the logistics of places, and this will help you in planning and in conversations too.

If you have any questions, please place them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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