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    #1

    All the meanings of 'rather'

    I would like to know all the meanings of 'rather'. I was checking on cambridge dictionary, and one of the explanations says that rather can be used as a sense of 'quite' or 'to a slight degree'.
    As I know quite and slight are opposites, so how can I identify if the phrase is trying to pass a meaning of quite or slight degree?
    To make the analysis easier, follows an image of the cambridge dictionary explanation:

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    #2

    Re: All the meanings of 'rather'

    Hello Pid, welcome to Using English!

    Unfortunately, in British English at least, "quite" can also be used in opposite senses:

    1. "What did you think of the play?" "It was quite good..."

    it was moderately good.

    2. "What did you think of the play?" "It was quite good!"

    it was surprisingly good.

    In written English, the punctuation is the clue: to convey the meaning in #2, you need the exclamation mark. In spoken English, intonation is the clue: #2 will be said in a "surprised" tone, and will rise at the end; #1 will be said with a verbal shrug, and will probably fall towards the end.

    "Rather" has much the same tendency; however, I would present its function slightly differently from Cambridge (if that's not heresy):

    3. It's rather cold today.

    it's noticeably cold today; but I'm not going to get too excited about it.

    4. It's rather cold today!

    it's noticeably cold today; I'm a little surprised by that fact, and would like to draw your attention to it.

    All the best,
    MrP

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    #3

    Re: All the meanings of 'rather'

    As you said one clue is the punctuation, I agree but look over at the cambridge explanation:

    It doesn't change the punctuation, like
    That's rather a difficult book - here's an easier one for you.
    Considering the punctuation I would say that the book is slightly more difficult, so briefing the conclusion, the only way to know what's the meaning of rather is the presence or not of punctuation?
    Last edited by pidr1nhu; 28-Jun-2006 at 22:47.

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