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

ReorderingHorizontal_MTQyNDE=

Mitigators 2

GapFillTyping_MTQyNDM=.

Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

Leticia Kamada 提交于 周五, 27/01/2017 - 14:07

永久连接
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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Leticia Kamada 提交于 周五, 27/01/2017 - 13:47

永久连接
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.

Gruntfuttock 提交于 周一, 16/01/2017 - 20:24

永久连接
"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.

or

This is a question which is more difficult.

not

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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

That is interesting. So, would you say whenever one puts the adjective after the noun one is not being quaint and archaic so much as using a reduced relative clause? "Court Martial", "Siege Perilous", "Murder most foul" could all by that token be said to be reduced relative clauses, I suppose, but in each case you could put the modifier before the noun and the meaning would remain unchanged. In contrast, "The road I travelled" can be expanded to "The road that I travelled" but "The I travelled road" is wrong, while "This is a question more difficult" is not wrong to my ear, but does sound rather 19th Century. How would you analyse "Nature, red in tooth and claw"?

Hello Gruntfuttock,

I would be careful in extrapolating from one example to a general rule here.

The examples you provide are quite diverse. For example, 'Court Martial' is an expression taken from French and, while we do in somet contexts use 'martial' as an adjective with a wider meaning, in this phrase we do not move it before the noun. Other examples would be 'attorney general' (also from French) and the adjective 'galore' which always follows the noun (this last is a borrowing from Irish, I believe).

The phrase 'murder most foul' is a fixed expression which has its origin in Shakespeare. It is a literary formulation.

As far as 'the road I travelled' goes, you have a verb phrase ('I travelled' - subject + verb) rather than an adjective, so it is not surprising that it cannot be placed before the noun in the way you suggest. The phrase 'the road less travelled' (another literary quote) can be switched to 'the less travelled road', however.

'Nature, red in tooth and claw' is another literary device. It is a feature of literature that rules are broken, conventional use overturned and expression given precedence over formal correctness. I would hesitate to draw grammatical rules from literary examples for that reason.

In general, I would say that in standard use the adjective precedes the noun. In some fixed or semi-fixed phrases it can follow the noun, as it can in some cases where the word or phrase is a borrowing or has a foreign etymology. In literature it is possible (and expected) to use less standard (or non-standard) forms for rhetorical and aesthetic effect.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Diogo Diniz 提交于 周日, 23/10/2016 - 13:08

永久连接
Sorry to ask this question here in this lession, but I have a doubt about the next one and I didn't find a space to make this question there. Don't I have to use hyphen in the words that follow: a thirty kilogram suitcase; a two minute rest; a five thousand euro platinum watch; a fifty kilometre journey; like thirty-kilogram suitcase; two-minute rest, five-thousand-ero-platinum watch?

Hello Diogo Diniz,

That's correct - normally a hyphen is used between the number and the noun that follows it. For the last example you give, though, I'd say '5000-euro platinum watch' is probably best. There's a page on this in the Cambridge Dictionary Grammar section that might be useful for you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

ansarsajna 提交于 周四, 25/08/2016 - 08:29

永久连接
Hello sir, which is right? "he is elder to me" or "he is elder than me", 'he is older to me' or "he is older than me". please help me sir

Hello ansarsajna,

'elder' isn't usually used in a sentence like this - it normally goes before a noun, e.g. 'elder sister'. See the dictionary entry (be sure to look at the entry for its use as an adjective) for examples of this. For a sentence like the one you're asking about, 'older' is the correct form, and you should use 'than' to make the comparison: 'he is older than me'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I'm using this website to brush up my grammar as I want to teach English. I read these sentences... '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 rather bigger one than that.' And thought... that isn't how we would say that.. Can you explain it to me? I would say for example.. 'This is a slightly more expensive model than that one.' Or.. 'than the other one.' And the sentence 'This is rather bigger one that that.' Just seems like bad English.. I'm not trying to be difficult so please don't get me wrong! It's just that I would want to use this website confidently, to refer to, in order to explain in technical terms why someone can or can't say something.. Thanks! Abigail

Peter M. 提交于 周一, 25/01/2016 - 07:53

Lucy2108 回复

永久连接

Hi Lucy2108,

Thank you for your comment. I think you make some good points, and I have edited the page to reflect them - particular the sentence you flagged as bad English! This was missing an indefinite article, which I have now added.

As far as the other sentences go, it is really a question of context. We use phrases like 'that one', 'the other one' and so on to avoid repeating the noun, but how far we can substitute like this is very much context-dependent because we use these devices when we have shared information between the speaker and listener.

For example, if I were standing in a shop and holding two pieces of clothing then it would be obvious what I was referring to and I could say 'This one is bigger than that'. However, if we were looking at various items of clothing in a shop window then I would need to be more explicit and say 'The blue dress behind the small table is bigger than the red dress on the fourth peg from the right', or something similar. And, of course, if the conversation was by phone then the descriptions would need to be still more precise because the amount of shared information would probably be lower.

Thanks again for your comment. I hope my answer helps to clarify our choices and I hope the way I've edited the page makes it clearer.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

crusoe 提交于 周三, 25/11/2015 - 09:02

永久连接
Thank you very much Mr.Kirk I have another question for you sir. Is old English still being used in any part of the world????

Hello again crusoe,

No, it's not in wide use anymore, although I'm sure you could find some scholars or aficionados who might have some ability to speak it. See the Wikipedia article on Old English for more information.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Lidia Inés Rojas 提交于 周六, 21/11/2015 - 23:06

永久连接
Hello Kirk. I want to thank the working team for such intensive and clear explanation concerning the use of the intensifiers

Hello Lidia,

You are welcome! It's great to know that we are helping people.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Rajneesh Kumar 提交于 周四, 10/09/2015 - 15:34

永久连接
Hello The LearnEnglish Team, I have doubt regarding one sentence presented as an example on last section(Adjective/intensifier). - Fortunately none of the passengers was seriously hurt. Why are we using a singular verb 'was' instead of 'were' in this sentence ? As per my understanding, if none is followed by singular noun we take singular verb, but here passengers is plural, isn't it ? Thanks, Rajneesh

Hello Rajneesh Kumar,

'none of' + a plural noun can take either a singular or plural verb. The plural form is probably more common and is more informal than the singular one, but both are considered correct.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

It is rather difficult to recall sentences in mitigator 1 in order to fill up questions at mitigator 2.

Dalita 提交于 周三, 22/07/2015 - 23:30

永久连接
Hi, I don't understand the next question and its answer: Have I met Maria's new boyfriend? No, but I've seen him and he's drop-dead gorgeous. Could some educator explain it? Please!

Hello Dalita,

'Drop dead gorgeous' is an idiomatic expression means 'extremely beautiful'. It is an informal expression.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

adtyagrwl3 提交于 周三, 22/07/2015 - 07:01

永久连接
Hello Sir, I hope you don't mind me asking this question here. In the article, noun modifiers, I read about joining two or more nouns to show that one is part of another. So, can we say: 'Bring me three glass water' or should we say: 'Bring me three glasses of water' As water is technically not a part of those glasses. Are there any specific category of nouns that we should not combine like this?

Hello adtyagrwl3,

The second sentence is correct.

We can join, for example, 'water' and 'glasses' but not to mean glasses with water in them. What we can say is 'water glasses' when we mean glasses that are used with water rather than something else. Similarly we can say 'wine glasses', 'champagne glasses', 'coffee cup' etc.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Mayes2112013 提交于 周二, 21/07/2015 - 13:03

永久连接
Which adjectives are suitable for intensifiers(utterly and amazingly) Is this sentence correct(was a universally popular)would it be more suitable to say (an universally popular)?

Hello Mayes2112013,

'Utterly' is used with extreme/limit adjectives while 'amazingly' is used with regular/gradable adjectives. Thus we would say:

utterly fantastic/gorgeous/freezing/terrifying

amazingly good/beautiful/cold/frightening

We us 'a' and 'an' according to the sound of the next word, not the spelling. THe first sound in 'university' is not a vowel sound, it is /j/ and so 'a' is appropriate.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I don't understand the next question and its answer. It appear in task of intensifiers: Have I met Maria's new boyfriend? No, but I've seen him and he's drop-dead gorgeous. I think the subject in the question should be 'you' and the answer must be 'yes' and it's not necessary 'but'. Please, Proffessor Peter, Could you help me with this item?

Hi Dalita,

It depends who is speaking. It could be that this is one person speaking and first they repeat the question to check that they have understood, and then answer it. It's quite common to do this:

A: Have you met Maria's new boyfriend?

B: Have I met Maria's new boyfriend? No, but I've seen him and he's drop-dead gorgeous.

The 'but' here is correct as the speaker is proving a contrast: 'I haven't met him but I have seen him'.

I have one request. Please post questions about exercises on the page with those exercises. It will help others who may also have the same question.

Best wishes

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

adtyagrwl3 提交于 周三, 15/07/2015 - 12:49

永久连接
Dear Sir, I read this sentence above: "She’s a bit younger than I am." Would it be wrong if I say the same thing this way: "She's a bit younger than me."

Hello adtyagrwl3,

No, that's not wrong, but rather perfectly correct!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hassini 提交于 周五, 01/05/2015 - 07:41

永久连接
Hi l ve a question what is the difference btween these sentence nervous,the man opened the door nervously ,the man opened the door always nervous,the man opened the door With my regards

Kirk 提交于 周五, 01/05/2015 - 13:15

hassini 回复

永久连接

Hello hassini,

In terms of meaning, there's not much difference between these sentences. As you can see in the dictionary, 'nervous' is an adjective and 'nervously' is an adverb. Adjectives generally modify nouns. In this case, it describes what the man is like. Adverbs modify verbs, other adverbs or adjectives - in this case, it describes how the man opened the door. Perhaps could say the first sentence says more about the man and the second one says more about how he acted in one situation, but other than that the meaning is the same. As for the last sentence, 'always' is an adverb - here it modifies 'nervous', which modifies 'the man'.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

utkusahin 提交于 周四, 02/04/2015 - 12:09

永久连接
Hi,I have two questions in this section. 1.The film wasn’t great but it was quite exciting. In this sentence what is the meaning of ''quite exciting'' 2.By the end of the day we were rather tired.And what does 'rather tired' mean? 'quite' and 'rather' means that less or more,which one?

Hi utkusahin,

Generally, 'quite' means 'a little' and weakens the adjective, while 'rather' makes the adjective stronger, though perhaps not as much as 'very' or 'extremely'. However, the context does have an effect on this, as does the pronunciation, if the examples are spoken.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Question 7 is worded differently in Tasks 1 and 2. Is the wording in Task 1 correct?

Hello kaniraj,

The wording in question 7 is Task 1 was incorrect. I've now corrected it so that it's the same as in Task 2.

Thanks very much for pointing this out to us and helping us improve LearnEnglish!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Uyanga3 提交于 周一, 27/10/2014 - 12:13

永久连接
Hello Sir, Can I use "rather a (/ a rather) + adjective + noun"? For example: I think it is rather a (/a rather bad behavior. Or isn't it possible and do we have to use "rather" only with adjective? Thank you in advance.

Hello Uyanga3,

Yes, you can use 'rather' in this way - yours is a rather fine question. Please note, however, that 'behaviour' is an uncount noun in English, so it's not grammatical to speak of 'a behaviour'. You could say instead 'a rather bad attitude' or 'rather bad behaviour', for example.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team, Is it possible to use the "updation"(update), I've had saw this kind of usage in some places but don't think this is a right one, if then what else can be used instead of it. Thanks in advance Sanover

Hi Sanover,

The correct term would be 'update', and there is no real alternative which is in common use. This is a flexible term: it can be a noun (an update) or a verb (to update something).

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

bestplace 提交于 周六, 23/08/2014 - 22:23

永久连接
Hi, thanks for your help in advance,is this sentence correct? I think nino's restaurant is slightly better than Belini's. thx ava

colonyhari 提交于 周五, 18/07/2014 - 15:42

永久连接
Hello Sir, Can you please explain the radical concept of phrase and help me to learn deeply. Thanks and Regards, Hari prasath.T

Hello colonyhari,

We're very happy to help you learn but I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'the radical concept of phrase'. Could you explain or - better still - provide an example so we can understand exactly what you mean? In general when asking questions on LearnEnglish, the more specific and concrete the question is, the more we will be able to help you with our answers.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello peter, Thanks for reply. For example (Phrase error) The yoga session "is most likelihood to start at" 6.00 a.m The yoga session "is mostly liked to start at" 6.00 a.m The yoga session "is most likely to start at" 6.00 a.m which one is correct And (Error spotting) Martin would attempt (1)/ to open the umbrella (2)/when her spectacles slipped off (3)/ and fell down(4). which one is wrong To identify these error what should I learn. Please give me your valuable suggestions. Thanks, Hari prasath.T

Hello Hari,

The correct answer is 'The yoga session "is most likely to start at" 6.00 a.m'.

The error in the second sentence is in the first part, which should be 'Martin attempted'.

However, please note that we usually do not answer these kinds of questions (as we do not want to be doing people's homework or tests for them!), but rather questions related to the material on the particular page (this page, for instance, deals with mitigators).

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

aarushmom 提交于 周六, 12/07/2014 - 08:14

永久连接
We don't agree on anything... i agree with everything... what's the difference between 'agree on' and 'agree with'? Thank you

Hello aarushmom,

'Agree with' can be used in a number of ways, such as:

I agree with John. [a person]

I agree with feminism. [an idea or ideology]

I agree with the death penalty. [a law or rule]

'Agree on' has a narrower range of uses and is generally used when people have chosen something together or are negotiating in some way:

We agreed on a time.

We agreed on that point.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Apollobeach25 提交于 周四, 12/06/2014 - 21:41

永久连接
Could you help me please? Every time that I put the words in order e.g. "I enjoy skiing but it can be pretty exhausting" I get a wrong answer under the number, but two or three green checks under the words. What should I do?

Hello Apollobeach25,

I've just tried the same question myself and it appears to be working fine - I get green ticks (checks) beside the words and on the number at the bottom.  Are you sure all of the words are in the right positions?  If you only see ticks beside some of the words then that suggests some may be in the wrong position.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team