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Mitigators

Level: intermediate

Mitigators are the opposite of intensifiers. When we want to make an adjective less strong we use these words: fairly, rather, quite

By the end of the day, we were rather tired.
The film wasn't great, but it was quite exciting.

and in informal English: pretty

We had a pretty good time at the party.

Be careful!

Level: advanced

quite

When we use quite with a normal adjective, it makes the adjective less strong:

The food was quite bad.
(= The food was bad but not very bad.)

My nephew is quite clever.
(= My nephew is clever but not very clever.)

But when we use quite with a strong adjective, it means the same as absolutely:

The food was quite awful.
(= The food was absolutely awful.)

As a child he was quite brilliant.
(= As a child he was absolutely brilliant.)

Level: intermediate

Mitigators with comparatives

We use these words and phrases as mitigators:

a bit
just a bit
a little
a little bit
rather
slightly
just a little bit

 

She's a bit younger than I am.
It takes two hours on the train but it is a little bit longer by road.
This one is rather bigger.

We use slightly and rather as mitigators with comparative adjectives in front of a noun:

This is a slightly more expensive model than that.
This is a rather bigger one than that.

Mitigators 1

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Mitigators 2

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Intermediate level

Comments

Could you please explain the latter part of the following sentence?

" Her manner is efficient, mild and one suspects rather observant."

What does "one suspects rather observant" mean?

Thanks.

Hello Gracy,

The phrase one suspects has a similar meaning to we can believe or we can think. It's a very literary form, and slightly old-fashioned in modern English

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much, Peter.
That’s very helpful.

May I ask you a bit confusing question? Isn't "pretty" an intensifier? When I say: she is a pretty tall girl. Doesn't that mean that she is so tall or does it mean that she is tall but not so tall?!
Thnx in advance

Hello Dina Diab

'She's pretty tall' means something like 'she is a little shorter than tall' or, as you say it, 'she is tall but not so tall'. Since it makes her shorter rather than taller, it's a mitigator.

You might also find this explanation of 'pretty' useful, as it gives more examples.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much for your help sir

Could I say?

Nino´s restaurant is slightly better than Bellini´s
Nino´s is a slightly better restaurant than Bellini´s

Both are correct?

Hello InmaLD,

Yes, both of those sentences are correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
I have a question. Is the following usage of adjective correct? What kind of adjective is it?
' The brave few fought the war'
Thanking you in anticipation

Hello Saquib,

The use is correct. There are a small number of adjectives that are used before 'few' and I think these are best treated as fixed expressions. The most common would be 'the brave few', 'the happy few' and 'the lucky few'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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