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


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Submitted by AndriiGro on Sun, 16/02/2014 - 12:50

Hi! Is this version right too: "I think Nino's restaurant is slightly better than Belini's". And what does it means this sentence: "My sister's got two young children". I can't understand why they're used possessive form of "sister" and I posted it there, because in section "Adjectives" comments are blocked. Thanx in advance.

Hello nopainnogain,

The first sentence is indeed fine.

In the second sentence, they 's is not a possessive form at all, but a contraction of 'has':

My sister has got two young children.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sanover on Mon, 20/01/2014 - 16:10


Hi Team,

Is it possible to use "She’s a bit younger than me" ? as in the above explanation it has used as "She’s a bit younger than I am." instead. 

Could you please help me on this.

Thank you.

Hello sanover,

Yes, you can say than me instead of than I am. Using an object pronoun (e.g. me) after than is more informal, whereas subject pronouns + a verb is more formal.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Safaa S. on Wed, 11/12/2013 - 09:34


Thank you Mr. Kirk ,I will work much harder than last time to memorize all of them.

Best wishes

Submitted by Safaa S. on Mon, 09/12/2013 - 10:07


Dear Mr Peter M,

First off all thanks for your kind reply in Christmas scene.

I want to ask about the intensifiers with particular adjectives, I noted it`s informal words, should we memorize them for using in speaking or only we have to know the rule of it to mark it in test or Know it when we see it in any article.

I didn't`t see the ILTS section tell now put have use it in the exam.

in the task of intensifiers with comparative and superlative there is no instruction to select more than one intensifier .

Best Regards

Hi Safaa S.,

As is explained on the Intensifiers page, only some combinations of intensifiers and adjectives are possible. Most of these combinations must simply be memorised, though reading extensively in English will also help you learn them. These are used in both speaking and writing, and can be tested on exams like the IELTS, so I would recommend that you learn as many as you can.

Thanks for alerting us to the missing instructions in the exercise on comparative and superlative adjectives - we really appreciate your helping us improve LearnEnglish!

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vidyaarthi on Thu, 07/11/2013 - 12:19

Sir, I have two doubts. 1. If I'm asked to mark the adjective in the sentence, 'The wind is quite strong today.', should I underline both 'quite' and 'strong'? 2. Can noun modifiers marked as adjectives? In the sentence, 'I bought a leather purse today.', can I say 'leather' is adjective since it describes the noun 'purse'?

Hello Vidyaarthi,

1. In the sentence you provide the adjective is 'strong'; the modifier 'quite' is an adverb, not an adjective.  Therefore, if you need to underline the adjective then you should underline only 'strong'.  If, however, you are asked to underline the adjective phrase, then the whole of 'quite strong' should be underlined.

2. In English it is not uncommon for the same word (in terms of spelling and/or pronunciation) to have several possible functions in the sentence.  The word 'leather' can be a noun or an adjective, as it is in your example.  It's even possible for 'leather' to be a verb in some varieties of slang (meaning to beat someone up in a fight)!


Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Peter. As usual your reply is quite concise.(quite being an adverb and concise an adjective, eh?) English grammar floors me!

Submitted by albaisabelcasallas on Sat, 02/11/2013 - 17:16

I have a little difficult time understanding the mean of the world rather, this world decrease or intensify the adjective. mean, in the sentence "it was after midnight and the children were rather tired" mean that the children was exhaust or the children have yet some energy.
Hello albaisabelcasallas, You are correct that this word can have different meanings and it depends on the context and also on the intonation of the speaker. The preceding sentences are very important. For example: 'You were driving very fast.' 'Well, we were driving rather fast, I suppose, but...' [here, 'rather' contrasts with 'very' and mitigates the adjective 'fast'] 'You were driving very slowly.' 'Do you think so? I thought we were driving rather fast, to be honest.' [here, 'rather fast' contrasts with 'very slowly' and intensifies the meaning] As you can see, the meaning is context-dependent, and the same is true of your example. I hope that clarifies it for you. Best wishes, Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by protik on Fri, 11/10/2013 - 11:02

If I say "I think Nino's restaurant is slightly better than the Billini's" instead of "I think Nino's is a slightly better restaurant than Billini's", could you please confirm if I'm right or wrong? Thanks.
Hello protik, Both of those sentences are correct. 'Slightly' here modifies the adjective, making it less strong. We can use the adjective after be or as part of a noun phrase: It is better it is a better restaurant In both cases we can use slightly as a modifier. I hope that clarifies it for you. Best wishes, Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Othon Dominguez on Thu, 10/10/2013 - 22:58

I really appreciate this amazing practicing tool. thks a lot!

Submitted by MayelaM on Sun, 08/09/2013 - 22:33


Hi, In the lesson there is a phrase "The government is firmly committed to reducing public debt, and is therefore bitterly opposed to any increases in spending"...  would it be correct to say "The government is firmly committed to reduce public debt, and is therefore bitterly opposed to any increases in spending" ?

When do you use the gerundial form of the verb as"reducing" vs the infinitive form "reduce"? Is it because the verb to commit requires the preposition "to" so the next world has to be a noun or action verb. ?

Do you have any lessons on the site that explain the usage of gerunds?  Thanks

Hi MayelaM,

As you suggest, in your example 'to' is a preposition which follows 'commit' and can be followed by a noun ('to the reduction of...') or a gerund ('to reducing...'), but not by a base form of the verb.


You can find more information on -ing forms here.

You can find related information and exercises on these pages:


I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team


Submitted by NikaDzindzibadze on Thu, 20/06/2013 - 07:16

Your Score: 100% Points scored 475 out of 475 The exercise is absolutely cool!

Submitted by Tamar Tskhovrebadze on Mon, 17/06/2013 - 09:12


B12-075   tako

i made all exercise. they were very importent for my grammar skills

Submitted by yousra youwa on Thu, 13/06/2013 - 20:30


Dear teachers....                                                                                                                 I have a question about superlative adjectives,can I use"the most"or"the less"

Hello yousra youwa,

For long (3-syllable and some 2-syllable) adjectives 'the most' is needed to form the superlative:

beautiful > the most beautiful

To make a superlative with the opposite meaning we use 'the least' (not 'the less'):

beautiful > the least beautiful

I hope that clarifies it for you.  Good luck with your learning!

You can find more information on superlative (and comparative) adjectives here (click).

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dg7 on Sat, 20/04/2013 - 19:13


I have a question related to the noun modifiers (the noun modifier grammar page do not allows to put comments).

Sometimes I see noun modifiers connected with a dash, to make a compound "adjective" I suppose. I also notice (but I am not sure) that noun modifiers are always singular. For example, I have seen something like: "8-bit width" instead of "it contains 8 bits".

I would be grateful if you could extend the page "noun modifier" considering these aspects.

Thank you for your attention.


Daniele Giacomini

Submitted by Parvana_EAMPIsm on Fri, 01/03/2013 - 12:27


It is very interestinq and very funny.

Submitted by Esther Es on Thu, 14/02/2013 - 00:57


Hi everyone!

Could  you help me with this, please?
Which one is correct  "it was much really too bad." or "it was really much too bad." ?  Greetings from Peru.

Submitted by Alex free on Tue, 20/11/2012 - 14:39


Hi guys, can we say decreased slightly or it is more correct to say slightly decreased?

Like for ex.  "The number of patients decreased slightly last month, before going up again this month"...

Hello Alex!

Slightly is an adverb of manner, which describes how something happens. Adverbs of manner usually go after the verb, unless you want to make the adverbial more important. That's when you put it before the verb. In short, decreased slightly is more usual, but they are both correct. Our adverb order page has more details.

Hope that helps!


Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Adoh Rebs on Fri, 09/11/2012 - 10:40



 i cant view the exercises, it says something about the java script being turned off. i don't know much about computers, please help

Hi Adoh,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! From your description of your problem, I think it's probably something with your computer. Maybe try using a different web browser (for example, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome) or find someone who knows a little about computers to help you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by haleh-m-f on Mon, 23/04/2012 - 13:47


hi Adam,I asked a question a few days ago about using of "and"or ","between adjectives in sentences ,but I did not get any answers .It s really confusing for me  .please help me to understand it .

thanking you in advance for your help.

the best wishes.

Submitted by haleh-m-f on Sun, 22/04/2012 - 09:02


Hi .I have a question ,but Ii is not about this part.In two below sentences why we should put comma or and between adjectives in one of them and in the other one we should not?

It was a short and easy exam.(It was a short ,easy exam.)

I built a red brick wall.

and in this one:

a beautiful and big garden

Is and or comma necessary here or not?I would be obliged if you  explain these confusing things to me .

Submitted by aunty tata on Thu, 19/04/2012 - 08:08


Dear all

At first I want to thank you for your useful site . as we well know English is the most useful language in the word and I try to learn it. anyway ,I have problem in adjective + ing form . for instance , easy going person . actually , I want you to explain about it! Where , when , why you use it . please teach me!!


Best regards


Hello tata!

Don't worry! + ing and + ed adjectives work exactly the same as normal adjectives. You just need to be careful about the meaning - I am bored means I am feeling bored, but I am boring means YOU feel bored by me. You can find more information on our page about + ed and + ing adjectives, and you can practice them here.

Hope that helps!

Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by raphaeldat on Tue, 20/03/2012 - 21:37


I learn a lot. tha