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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 10th, 2010, 04:25 am
michèle 2's Avatar
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Default difference between quite / rather

I've asked my English friends about the difference between quite and rather and they've all agreed to say that there's no difference. However in one of my grammar books they say that rather is mainly used with negative ideas. "It's rather cold"
rather difficult, i'm afraid.Let's get a taxi, it's rather a long way to walk.
"She's quite intelligent but rather lazy"
Quite is used with positive ideas and rather with negative ideas.
What do you think?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 10th, 2010, 11:56 am
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Default Re: difference between quite / rather

I do not agree, we often hear "She's quite lazy !"
The diffrence would be mostly that with rather it's like something is not completely so, but somewhat, whereas with "Quite", we mean "she's really lazy"!
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Unread Jan 11th, 2010, 12:51 pm
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Default Re: difference between quite / rather

It depends on what type of adjective is used.

Take an adjective like hot. It's a gradable adjective - that is, something can be a bit hot, or very hot. If you use quite with a gradable adjective then it will probably have fall-rise intonation and have the meaning "somewhere between a bit and very", and it may be used with negative or positive ideas.

When I first read Michelle's message I wondered if the explanation of rather = disapproval might be right too, but looking in a concordancer, it's not true of many of the examples. This was the first one that came up :

... and their supporters are rather polite about it, often much more so than ....

Quite also has a different meaning though when it's used with non-gradable adjective. If you say I'm quite certain (falling intonation on quite this time) then it means completely, absolutely. Rather can't be used in this way or with this type of adjective.
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