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15 December 2013

The Trickiest Word in English: Quite Tricky!

Vicki Hollett (of Learning to Speak 'Merican) wrote a great blog post for the Macmillian Dictionary blog about the trickiest word in English. In it she writes about a quite tricky English word: quite

Image via http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/quite_wordle.bmp

The meaning of quite in American and British Englishes has different meanings. In American English the meaning is rather (quite?) positive, and in British English, it is less than positive:

If your American boss says your work is quite good, should you be pleased or a little concerned? In British English quite good only means pretty good or fairly good, but in American English it’s much more positive. Quite good means very good, so you can give yourself a pat on the back.

As I am a native American English speaker, I consider quite to be positive. If you're an English language learner, how did you learn the meaning of quite? If you're a teacher, how do you teach it? With both meanings? Or just for the country in which you're teaching? What if you teach EFL?

"All art is quite useless" -Oscar Wilde

P.S. Here's the link: http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/the-trickiest-word-in-american