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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



Ok thank you very much

Hello , I have a question : is it the same to tell fairly difficult, rather difficult, quite difficult? Or there is a difference in the meaning ? I am waiting for the answer and thank you very much

Hello Ilam,

The meanings of these are all very similar and are dependent on context and tone. For example, all of them could mean anything from 'not extremely difficult' to 'not easy at all'.

How was the test?

I'm worried about my result, to be honest. I thought it was fairly difficult.


Do you think I could do it?

Of course. It's fairly difficult but you would be fine.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very very very much for your answer . Please could you explain me the meanings of ' quite ' in British and American English ? I'll be very happy if you explain me all the meanings of it .

Hello Ilam,

I'd suggest you read the Cambridge Dictionary entry and this English Grammar Today article on 'quite', where you'll find explanations and example sentences for all of its main meanings. If you have any specific questions after reading those pages, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! I've just sent you a message about a problem I was having here, but I found out what was happening, so, problem solved :)

Hello Leticia,

I'm glad you were able to figure out how to get the exercises to work! Don't hesitate to ask if you have any other problems.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I need help.
I'd like to take all the tasks but it's just possible to do the first ones, when I try to continue it simply doesn't work ... for example, Mitigators 1 put the words in order: I've completed the first exercise, but when I try to keep doing it, it's not possible to put the words in the boxes (it happened with other tasks too).
I'm not sure if I got to be clear about the problem, sorry if I'm not.

"This is a rather more difficult question than the others" is undoubtedly correct, but is "This is a question rather more difficult than the others" any less so?

Hello Gruntfuttock,

I'm not sure it is possible for a form to be more or less correct; either it is correct or it is not. Both of these sentences are correct. However, the first uses a comparative adjective (more difficult) before the noun (question). The second is actually a different form and is a reduced relative clause:

This is a question (which is) more difficult that the others.

We can see that this is the case if we use the comparative form without the second part of the sentence:

This is a more difficult question.


This is a question which is more difficult.


This is a question more difficult.

So your example does not show that the comparative adjective can follow the noun, but rather than we can use a relative clause to express the same meaning.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team