QUITE – meanings and usage
QuiteGrammar > Degree adverbs > Quite
Quite is a degree adverb. It has two meanings depending on the word that follows it: ‘a little, moderately but not very’ and ‘very, totally or completely’:
He had been quite good at drawing when he was at school. (OK, moderately good but not outstanding)
They were quite excited about moving to a new place. (a little excited)
Her life is quite different since she moved. (completely different)
I remembered the house quite clearly now that I was walking towards it. (completely clearly)
Quite + gradable adjectives and adverbs
When we use quite with a gradable adjective or adverb, it usually means ‘a little, moderately but not very’. It has a similar meaning to ‘rather’ or ‘fairly’:
That shirt makes you look quite smart. (+ adjective)
She comes to visit you quite often, doesn’t she? (+ frequency adverb)
He walked quite fast until they were out of sight. (+ adverb)
Quite + non-gradable adjectives and adverbs
When we use quite with a non-gradable adjective or adverb (an extreme adjective or adverb has a maximum and/or minimum, for example right – wrong), it usually means ‘very’, ‘totally’ or ‘completely’:
The scenery was quite incredible.
Helen had said the food was awful here. She was quite right.
Steve Jobs, the chairman of Pixar, is quite obviously fond of computers.
In speaking we give this use of quite as much stress as the adjective or adverb.
Quite + nouns
We can use quite + a/an before a noun to give it more emphasis or importance:
There was quite a crowd at the party.
It makes quite a difference when the wind isn’t blowing.
When we use quite + a/an + adjective + noun it means the same as ‘a little or a lot but not completely’:
It’s quite a big company. Around 200 staff.
It’s quite a good book. (It’s rather good but not excellent.)
Quite a bit, quite a few, quite a lot
We often use quite with a bit, a few and a lot to refer to large amounts and quantities:
You should ask Mez for some advice. He knows quite a bit about gardening.
We bought quite a lot of new furniture, didn’t we?B:
Yeah, quite a bit.
There were quite a few of us at the meeting.
We also use quite a bit and quite a lot to mean ‘often’:
Do you come here quite a bit?
I used to go sailing quite a lot.
Quite + a lot/a bit + comparatives
We often use quite a lot and quite a bit with a comparative adjective or adverb to mean ‘much’:
We went to Italy when I was quite a bit younger.
The new truck is quite a lot heavier than the old model.
Quite + verbsSpoken English:
In informal speaking, we often use quite with like, enjoy, understand and agree to talk about our opinions or preferences. Depending on the context, it can mean ‘a bit’, ‘a lot’ or ‘totally’. We usually put it in the normal mid position for adverbs (between the subject and the main verb, or after the modal verb or first auxiliary verb, or after be as a main verb):
I quite like tennis but I can never play proper games because I can’t serve. (I like tennis a bit.)
I quite enjoy sitting here and watching people go by. (I like it a lot.)
I quite agree. You’re absolutely right. (I agree completely.)
I can quite understand that the news would have upset her. (I totally understand.)
Not quite meaning ‘not completely’
We often use not quite to mean ‘not completely’. We can use it with adjectives, adverbs, nouns, non-finite clauses, prepositional phrases and wh-clauses:
The door was not quite closed. (+ adjective)
The news was not quite as bad as I had expected. (+ comparative phrase)
It’s not quite half past nine. (+ time phrase)
She hesitated, not quite knowing what to do. (+ non-finite clause)
That’s not quite what I meant. (+ wh-clause)
We can also use not quite as a short response:
Are you ready?B:
No, not quite.
We can use not quite with verbs:
I’m slightly concerned and don’t quite understand why he didn’t come.
I haven’t quite got the money to get my laptop yet.