Fairly vs. Quite vs. Rather vs. Pretty

Fairly is an adverb of degree. It generally modifies adjectives and adverbs.

  • 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.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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