1 2
(1) That room was full of children.
(2) That room was filled with children.


Would you native speakers perceive the two above as exactly the same? Or would you detect any difference between them?
Senior Member4,387
This may be a personal opinion not shared by others, but "full of" sounds like a way to say "there were a lot of kids there" while "filled with" sounds like every available space had a child sitting/standing there.
Veteran Member27,513
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
I remember I asked this question before... oh! I asked in a different context - the literal meaning of filled with vs full of.

The box was filled with/full of toys. (I was told filled with suggests involvement of an agent or something like that while full of doesn't)

I don't think the explanation can be applied here since the usage here is more figurative.

Maybe I shouldn't have brought this up. Anyway, if you are interested to know.

I'm definitely interested in knowing the difference in your context.
Veteran Member7,658
 That's an interesting point, GG.
Now, do they equally sound natural? Or is one more natural than the other? 
If I'm not mistaken, they are both OK. It's a matter of style and of preference.
Would you also agree with N2g that the expressions themselves are both equally natural, GG? 
Ummm.... You know when you think about somethign too much you lose track of what you would say normally.

Let's say I open the door at the locker room at the gym just as swimming lessons for the little kids are getting over. To my eyes, they are just EVERYWHERE! "Egad! I'll just shower at home. This place is filled with children!" That sounds natural enough in that context - covering every surface I can see.

But let's say I want to use the computer lab at the library, and there are ten computers. Eight of them have people using them, and all but one is a kid, and they are playing some sort of interactive game. "I'll come back later. It's full of kids at the moment." -- I would not used "filled with" here because they are not sitting on the desks, the rug, etc.
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
So it seems like it's not just a matter of style, but there IS some difference you perceive in them and you use both expressions as the situation demands. Interesting.

Oh, by the way, GG, why 'all but one IS A KID', not 'all but one ARE KIDS'?
Oops. Good catch. It should be "all but one are kids" because it's "all are kids but one."

It's so easy to focus on the last noun used.

Again, remember I said it could be just my personal preference. Others may say "filled with" and "full of" completely interchangeably.
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.Trusted Users: Trusted users are allowed to use additional capabilities of the site such as private messaging to all users and various other advanced features. You cannot join this role unless you are promoted by an administrator.
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here