You are here


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


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
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


Mitigators 2


Intermediate level


Hello. Is the following sentence correct?
- People want love stories with happy ends.
Some colleagues say that it must be "endings", what do you think?
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

'Endings' sounds much better to me. You can say 'a happy end', but I don't think it is used in the plural form.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Which adjective is correct or both are? Why?
- A leading businessman has been reported missing=lost from his home.
- A small child has been missing=lost for 3 hours.
- They still hope to find their missing=lost son.
- My keys are missing=lost. Have you seen them anywhere?
Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

Missing is more temporary, and suggests that it's still possible to find the missing thing. Lost is more permanent, and suggests that it may be difficult or impossible to find the lost thing.

So, missing works in all four sentences, as it seems possible to find these things again (i.e. the businessman and the small child have not been missing for a long time, as the use of the present perfect shows; the keys can be found again, so the speaker asks for help fnding them).

But, I think both missing and lost work in sentence 3. It doesn't have a clear context - the son may be temporarily missing (e.g. for a few hours) or more permanently lost (e.g. for years, after failed searching).

Lost doesn't work in sentences 1, 2 and 4.

Does that make sense?


The LearnEnglish Team

Well. In the following two sentences, can we use both "lost" and "missing" to give the same meaning?
- Fill in the missing=lost words in this text.
- Complete the missing=lost parts in the dialogue.
Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

Missing is the better option. To complete the exercises, somebody will add the missing words or parts of the dialogue, so we understand their 'missingness' as only temporary.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Is the following sentence right using "article" or should we replace it with "review"?
- The article she wrote on the play appealed to everyone.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

That depends on what kind of text it is. If it gives a critical opinion about the play, 'review' would probably better. If it's something else, 'article' might be best.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi English Team,

In the sentences below, what is the difference between "but rather" and "but"?

The walls were not white, but rather a sort of dirty grey.
The problem is not in the whole system, but rather in one small part.
The ending of the war is not a cause for celebration, but rather for regret that it ever happened.

Thanks so much teachers.

Hi Najmiii3579,

But rather is more emphatic. It emphasises (more strongly than but) that the thing it introduces is the real or true situation.

Also, but rather is slightly more formal in style. I think it's more commonly used in writing than in speaking.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team