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In this lesson we’re looking at all the ways to use the words QUITE, PRETTY, RATHER and FAIRLY

If you’ve ever heard the expression “It’s pretty good”, or “She’s quite pretty” and wondered what it meant, you’ve come to the right place! The English Ninja has hundreds of free English lessons like this one, and plenty more free English quizzes. 

Have fun with the lesson, and don’t forget to try the quizzes by clicking on their links below

– James.

Lesson Contents


You can use QUITE, PRETTY, RATHER and FAIRLY with adjectives or adverbs.

QUITE, PRETTY, RATHER and FAIRLY mean less than VERY, but more than A LITTLE.

It’s fairly warm tonight.
The hike is pretty easy.
This is a pretty good cake.

Complete the sentences using QUITE and an adjective.

Your Words

difficult famous heavy surprised tasty


The difference between QUITE and PRETTY

QUITE and PRETTY are very similar in meaning. However PRETTY is used mainly in spoken informal English.

QUITE is placed before A/AN, PRETTY is placed after:

She’s quite a good chef! 
She’s a pretty good chef.

It was quite a tasty meal.
It was a pretty tasty meal.

You can use QUITE (but not PRETTY) in the following ways:

  • Quite + a/an + noun (without an adjective):

I thought that the cake was going to be good! It was quite a disappointment.

  • Quite a lot (of):

There were quite a lot of people at the restaurant.

How many people were there? – Quite a lot.

  • Quite + verb (especially LIKE and ENJOY):

I quite like tennis, but I prefer football.

Match the halves of the sentences that use QUITE.


RATHER is similar to QUITE and PRETTY. RATHER is often used for negative ideas.

QUITE and PRETTY are also possible in these examples.

I don’t like this meal, it’s rather salty.

She doesn’t like going out, she’s rather shy.

When we use RATHER for positive ideas, it means UNUSUALLY or SURPRISINGLY:

These mangos are rather tasty! Where did you get them?


FAIRLY is not as strong as QUITE, RATHER or PRETTY. For example, if a meal is “fairly good” it means that it’s not very good and could be better:

It was a fairly nice day, but there was a bit of rain.
(Fairly nice = it could have been better)

Our house is fairly big.
(Fairly big = it’s not big, but almost)


QUITE can mean COMPLETELY with these adjectives:

amazing – certain – clear – different – extraordinary – impossible – incredible – obvious – right – safe – sure – true – unnecessary – wrong

Are you sure? – Yes, quite sure.

It was quite clear what the problem was.

I find baking cakes quite impossible.

QUITE can also mean COMPLETELY with some verbs. For example:

I quite agree with you.
(I completely agree with you.)


I haven’t quite finished the book.

I don’t quite understand what you mean.

I’m not quite ready, give me five minutes.

Decide what QUITE means in the sentences.


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