Quite / Pretty / Rather / Fairly

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Welcome to your Quite / Pretty / Rather / Fairly lesson! In this topic we talk about:

• How do we use Quite / Pretty / Rather / Fairly? 

The difference between Quite and Pretty. 

• Using Rather. 

• Using Fairly. 

• Using Quite. 

Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

How do we use Quite / Pretty / Rather / Fairly?

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

It’s fairly warm tonight.

The hike is pretty easy.

This is a pretty good cake.

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

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.

Using Rather

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

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

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

QUITE and PRETTY are also possible in the above situations.

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

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

Using Fairly

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)

Using Quite

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.

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