Fairly vs. Quite vs. Rather vs. Pretty
- He can speak English fairly well.
Fairly does not suggest a very high degree.
- ‘How was the film?’ ‘Fairly good.’ (Not the best one I have seen this year.)
Quite suggests a higher degree than fairly.
- ‘How was the film?’ ‘Quite good.’ (You ought to watch it.)
Quite can modify adjectives, adverbs, verbs and nouns.
- She speaks English quite well.
- He is quite tall.
- He is quite a scholar.
- I quite enjoyed myself at the party.
Rather is stronger than quite. It suggests ideas such as more than is usual, more than was expected or more than was wanted.
- I think I should close the window. It is rather cold.
- Do you see that rather tall boy standing over there.
- ‘How was the film?’ ‘Rather good.’ (I was surprised.)
Rather can modify adjectives, adverbs, verbs and nouns.
- It was rather a success.
- I rather think we are going to lose.
Pretty is similar to rather.
- She is a pretty good girl.
- ‘How is things?’ ‘Pretty good.’
Pretty can modify adjectives and adverbs. It can’t modify nouns or verbs.