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  1. Newbie
    Interested in Language
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      • Native Language:
      • French
      • Home Country:
      • France
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    • Join Date: Oct 2011
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    Quite - Very - Really

    Hello everyone,

    I would like to know the differences about these word: Very, really, quite

    Especially quite, because I think that it is unusual in American English than in British English, so I believe that this word doesn't means "assez, plutôt" in U.S English, does it? But it would means rather "very, really" like above.

    Therefore, I have got a sentence and I think it is written in U.S English:

    It appears you can see me quite well.
    I think that in British English, it should mean: It appears you can see me pretty well. Or It appears you can see me almost well.
    Whereas in U.S English, it should mean: It appears you can see me very well. or It appears you can see me entirely well. or It appears you can see me really well.

    So, what's the difference about quite in British English and in U.S English? I would like to have more confirmations about I have said just now

    Thanks in advance

    Best wishes,


  2. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
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    Re: Quite - Very - Really

    I can speak only for BrE usage.

    With gradable adjectives and adverbs, i.e. those that can have a comparative form, or be intensfied, indicating more of the quality. 'quite' has a meaning similar to 'fairly/rather'.:

    intelligent - more/very intelligent; quite intelligent = fairly intelligent.
    quickly - more/very quickly; quite quickly = fairly quickly.
    strong - stronger/very strong; quite strong = fairly strong.

    With non- gradable adjectives, i.e. those denoting an absolute quality, 'quite' means 'completely/wholly':

    unique - more/very unique; quite unique = completely unique.
    perfectly - more/very perfectly; quite perfectly = completely perfectly.

    That's the theory. In practice there are a couple of problems:

    1. Despite the 'rules', some people do not recognise non-gradable adjectives/adverbs as such, and do intensify them - more/very unique. Such people can use 'quite' in the sense of 'fairly' - quite unique. In speech, intonation usually makes it clear what meaning is intended. In writing there can be ambiguity.

    2. In some utterances, some people appear to use 'quite' in the sense of 'completely' even with gradable adjectives: I made my meaning quite clear; I understand you quite well. Once again, intonation can usually make the meaning clear in speech, but there can be ambiguity in writng.

    Not a clear answer, I am afraid, but that's the way things are. If you wish to make your meaning absolutely clear, then avoid 'quite', and use 'fairly' or 'completely' depending on what you want to say.


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