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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



Hello. Could you please help me to know which one is correct or better than the other?
- Alexandria and Port Said are two important Egyptian (ports - harbours).
Thank you.

Hello. Which of the two following adjectives is correct and suitable in this sentence?
- Trying to fix this mobile is a waste of money. It's completely (useless-hopeless)
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

'hopeless' and 'useless' could both be used here, but mean different things (see the dictionary). If I've understood the situation correctly, I'd probably say 'It will cost more to repair it than it will to buy a new one' or 'It'll be cheaper to buy a new one than to repair it'.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

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.