Skip to content
Home » English Confusions » Rather, quite, fairly & little

Rather, quite, fairly & pretty

Rather, quite, fairly & prettyThese four words (primarily adverbs of degree) are constantly used by native or proficient English speakers in everyday speech.

They are little words, or little nuances, that make all the difference.

Master these four adverbs, and learn how to utilise them correctly in your sentences.

Rather: takes the sense of ‘more than normal’ and is also used with comparatives in the form of ‘rather than’

‘Rather’ modifies adverbs, adjectives, and verbs. see (Adverbs of degree) 

  • The performance went rather well I must say.
  • How did your concert go? Oh, it went rather nicely. I’m over the moon.
  • Jane is rather tired, I think she’ll take a nap soon.
  • I rather like going to the centre with you.

Quite: takes the sense of ‘rather’, ‘a lot’ or ‘completely’

It’s almost interchangeable with ‘rather’.  ‘quite’ can modify verbs, nouns, adverbs, and adjectives. See adverbs of degree

  • The teacher was happy with your thesis, it was quite good you know.
  • I’m quite angry with you for having stolen my notebook.
  • It’s quite impossible to fly to the sun.
  • It’s quite a hard problem to solve.
  • I quite liked his company.
English courses

Fairly: like rather & quite, it modifies adjectives and other adverbs, only ‘fairly’ is of less degree, it even takes the sense of ‘under the mark’, or ‘not the best’ 

  • You did fairly well in your math test I suppose, but nothing to be proud about.
  • James is fairly convinced he’ll go abroad on an Erasmus.
  • I’m fairly happy these days, I think.

Pretty: ‘pretty’ is almost identical to ‘rather’, only it is perhaps a little less formal, and also, only modifies adjectives and adverbs 

  • I’m pretty sick of this guy always interrupting us while we’re speaking.
  • You’re pretty bright for your age, I must admit.
  • How is Maria? She is pretty well.

See also