Grammar » B1+ Grammar lessons and exercises » Pretty, rather, quite, fairly – Adverbs of degree
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  • Pretty, rather, quite, fairly

    Exercise 1

    Complete the sentences with pretty, rather, quite, or fairly.

    1 a few customers had complained about the terrible service.

    2 These shoes are uncomfortable. I can't wait to take them off.

    3 "How was the play?" " good. It certainly wasn't the best I've seen, though."

    4 Dinner is not ready. It will be soon, though.

    5 I was hoping you'd offer to help us.

    6 Hey, that's good! I didn't know you could draw.

    7 He told us a funny joke on the way home from school.

    8 Tom did well in the test, though he could have done better.

    9 We live close to the school, so we don't need to take the bus.

    10 The meal was a disappointment.


     

  • Pretty, Rather, Quite, Fairly

    A grammar chart explaining the use of the adverbs of degree "pretty," "rather," "quite," and "fairly" with examples and usage rules for each term.

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    The words pretty, quite, rather, and fairly are all intensifiers. We use them to modify the intensity of the adjective, adverb, verb, or noun that comes after them. Though their meanings can seem relatively similar, each word has its own specific uses and can, therefore, be used in its own particular way.

    Pretty

    Pretty, meaning ‘less than very, but to a large degree’, can only be used before adjectives and adverbs. It is used in informal language only and rarely in negative contexts.

    • The meal was pretty good.
    • She cooks pretty well.

    When pretty is used to modify an adjective + noun, we always put an article in front of it.

    • We had a pretty busy day.
    • He’s a pretty good driver.

    Rather

    Rather has a similar meaning to pretty, but it’s more formal. It is a versatile intensifier with several different uses.

    It is often used to add intensity to a negative idea.

    • The dish was rather bland.
    • The lecture was rather boring.

    Rather can also be used to emphasise positive ideas when something is unusual or surprising.

    • His work is rather impressive.

    When used to modify a noun, rather is followed by an article. This, however, is not particularly common.

    • The event was rather a success, I believe.

    When used before an adjective + noun, the article can be placed before or after the word rather.

    • We’ve had rather a dull morning. (more formal)
    • We’ve had a rather dull morning.

    Rather can also be used before verbs to express thoughts or emotions. This is more common in British English than in American English.

    • I rather think you should apologise to him.

    Quite

    Quite is another versatile adverb of degree. It usually has two different meanings depending on the word that comes after it.

    When quite is used before gradable adjectives and adverbs, it means ‘less than very, but to a large degree’. A gradable adjective is an adjective that can have different levels of that quality; for example, the word good can accept the distinction between a little good and very good. The negative not quite can be used in the same way to mean ‘not completely’.

    • The soup was quite good.  
    • Matt swims quite well
    • My hair is not quite dry.

    When quite is used before non-gradable adjectives such as sure, certain, amazing, awful, etc. it means ‘completely’, ‘absolutely’. Non-gradable adjectives are extreme adjectives that cannot be qualified by words such as a little or very.

    • I’m quite sure that is the correct answer.
    • The experience was quite incredible

    Quite can also be used to intensify opinion verbs such as like, agree, and enjoy.

    • I quite like his new album.
    • We quite enjoyed playing in the rain.

    Before a noun or an adjective + noun, quite is always followed by an article.

    • The book launch was quite a success.
    • It’s quite a big company

    Quite can also be used before the particles a few, a lot, and a bit to indicate a larger quantity of something.

    • Quite a few people turned up for the protest.
    • The weather in Italy is quite a lot warmer than it is here.

    Fairly

    Fairly, meaning ‘not very, but to a moderately or acceptable degree’, is the weakest in intensity of the four words. It can go before adjectives and adverbs.

    • We live fairly close to one another. Just a 10-minute drive away.
    • Joe did fairly well in the test. He could have done better, though.

    When used before adjective + noun, the article is placed before fairly.

    • It is a fairly common surname where she lives.
    • She had a fairly quiet life.
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