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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Maahir 提交于 周二, 17/08/2021 - 13:49

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Hi there, I am a bit confused the usage of this intensifier "a great deal" for ex, London is a great deal bigger than Liverpool. please help me how I can properly use it with examples. Thanks in Advance.

Hello Maahir,

We use a great deal before comparative adjectives:

a great deal bigger

a great deal more expensive

 

We use a great deal to show that the difference between two things is not a small difference. Thus, 'a great deal more expensive' means that the difference in price or cost was very big - not one dollar but maybe a thousand dollars!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周日, 28/03/2021 - 22:50

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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.

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周二, 26/01/2021 - 16:29

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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,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周三, 06/01/2021 - 18:05

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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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周日, 03/01/2021 - 10:44

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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?

Jonathan

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,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周二, 22/09/2020 - 21:09

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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,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Najmiii3579 提交于 周一, 07/09/2020 - 13:24

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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,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

VivianNg 提交于 周六, 25/07/2020 - 07:27

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But i'm confused about using rather and quite, because both words are similar meanings. When do we use rather and quite?under what situation?

Hello VivianNg,

In general, when they are used with gradable adjectives, 'rather' is a little less strong than 'quite'.

'rather' is also more formal, and is often used when something is more than expected or usual. For example, if you asked me how the film I saw last night was and I said 'Rather good', this suggests that it was better than I expected. I could also say 'Quite good' to be mean much the same thing, but with less of a comment on whether I expected it to be that way.

I'd highly recommend you have a look at the explanations of 'rather' and 'quite' in the Cambridge Dictionary grammar, where you can see lots of different examples.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Gracy 提交于 周二, 28/04/2020 - 20:49

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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

Dina Diab 提交于 周三, 12/02/2020 - 18:03

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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

Hello Kirk, Does 'pretty' have the same meaning as 'quite' or 'absolutely', if used with strong adjectives? Thanks, Jonathan

Hello Jonathan,

We use 'pretty' with gradable adjectives, but not with non-gradable adjectives (such as 'strong' adjectives). You might hear or read exceptions to this rule -- for example, 'How was the film? Pretty awful, actually!') -- and in these cases it means something like 'quite', but these are non-standard uses.

By the way, you can also read more about 'pretty' on this Cambridge Dictionary page.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

InmaLD 提交于 周三, 25/09/2019 - 12:09

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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

Saqib 提交于 周二, 27/08/2019 - 16:46

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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

Mhde 提交于 周一, 19/08/2019 - 11:18

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Hi.my question is about (the) I've seen this sentence(Chelsa is one of Network's______(old)neighbourhoods.) Should i use( the )here? The oldest or oldest?should I always use the in superlative adjective? I wanna which one is grammatically correct.

Hello Mhde

'oldest' is the correct answer. We use 'the' when we're speaking about one thing, but here we're speaking about several neighbourhoods (Chelsa and other ones).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周三, 16/01/2019 - 18:53

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Could you please help me? He did a lot of exercises in the club. What a (long - hard) day! Which adjective suits this? Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Both long and hard are possible here and both suggest a tiring day, but there is a slight difference.

Hard suggests that the day was difficult.

Long suggests that the busy part of the day started early and finished late.

 

I suspect your first sentece is not correct, however. When we use exercise as a plural noun it means exercises in a schoolbook (maths exercises, English exercises etc). If we mean the kind of exercise we do in the gym then we use the singular form.

If you mean physical exercise then I think we would say:

He exercised for a long time in the club.

or

He spent a long time exercising in the club,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Stefan xy 提交于 周二, 18/12/2018 - 20:09

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What is actually meaning rather bigger? Can you explain me that on the easier way? Isn't that intesifier?

Hello Stefan xy,

'Rather' means something similar to 'a little' or 'quite'. It is a mitigator (weakening the adjective) rather than an intensifier (strengthening it).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

SajadKhan 提交于 周六, 14/07/2018 - 12:36

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Hi there, I have some questions related to noun modifiers. "There is a sixteen foot wall between us." I believe this is correct but why singular noun is used in such noun modifiers. is it correct to use "feet" in this scenario? Similar examples, five kilometer journey, ten story building, these also using singular nouns. Please explain. Regards

Hi SajadKhan,

That's very observant of you and you are right: when we use a number and a unit of measurement before a noun in this way, the unit is used in the singular, just as in all of your examples. If we speak about a distance or the height of something, then this rule does not apply (e.g. 'It's 10 kilometres from Clare to here' or 'Mt Everest is 8048 metres high') -- it is only when the number and unit precede the noun. It's as if they were an adjective describing the type of noun it is.

As far as I know, there is no reason for this other than it being the way people have come to speak English over many years.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

SajadKhan 提交于 周五, 13/07/2018 - 10:39

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Hi, Is it same to use 'quite' in place of 'slightly', 'rather' or 'a little bit' when using with a comparative. e.g It takes two hours on the train but it is quite longer by road. This is a quite more expensive model than that. Are these correct? Regards

Kirk 提交于 周五, 13/07/2018 - 10:54

SajadKhan 回复

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Hello SajadKhan,

We don't use 'quite' with a comparative in this way; instead, you could say something like 'it is a little longer by road' or 'a bit longer'. 

You can say 'quite a bit longer', but this means that it's more than just a little longer -- it's considerably longer. Or for your second example, you could say something like 'This model is quite a bit more expensive than that one', though again that means the price difference is large. 

if it's only slightly more expensive, you'd best say 'This model is a bit more expensive' instead.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Ahmed Imam 提交于 周三, 13/06/2018 - 20:53

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Could you please help me with how to use "extremely + adjective"? Is it used with strong adjectives or ordinary ones ? for example: "extremely exhausted" Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

'extremely' is not normally used with strong adjectives, so 'extremely exhausted', for example, is not correct. You can use it with gradable adjectives but not non-gradable adjectives – follow the link to see a more complete explanation.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Wang Zijian 提交于 周三, 13/12/2017 - 11:44

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'She's a bit younger than I am'. Can we also say 'She's a bit younger than me'?

Hello Wang Zijian,

Yes, you can, and they mean the same thing. The second one is more common in informal contexts, but that's not to say that the first one is formal.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Ilam 提交于 周日, 17/09/2017 - 20:28

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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,

Peter

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 .