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Language tip of the week: quite

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, usage, etc.

This week’s language tip helps with the differences in meaning of quite in American and British English.



In British English quite usually means ‘fairly’: The film was quite enjoyable, although some of the acting was weak.

When American speakers say quite, they usually mean ‘very’: We’ve examined the figures quite thoroughly. Speakers of British English sometimes use quite to mean ‘very’, but only before words with an extreme meaning: The whole experience was quite amazing.

In both British and American English, quite can also mean ‘completely’: Are you quite sure you know what to do? It’s quite impossible to keep the house clean when all the children are here.

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Liz Potter

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