fast or quick

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kva, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. kva Senior Member

    Amy's boss asked her to send him an updated report. He got the report in a minute. He said:

    A. It was quick
    B. It was fast

    Which answer is correct? I assume "quick" and "fast" have the same meaning and both answers are correct. Is there any difference?
  2. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    There are many situations where "fast" and "quick" can be interchanged with no change of meaning.

    For example gunslingers in the wild west:

    He was a fast draw with a six shooter.

    He was a quick draw with a six shooter.

    There is no meaningful difference between these sentences and both forms are used.

    On the other hand, a sprinter would be "fast" and not "quick" for the covered distance.

    "He was quite fast; he ran the 100 meter sprint in under 10 seconds."

    You would not use "quick" in this sentence.

    You would use "quick" as follows:

    "He was quick off the starting blocks, but not fast enough down the track to be a consistent winner."

    I don't know that I can come up with a rule that will cover these. I think many are idiomatic.
  3. Yet Another Jefe Banned

    US - English of my head here...

    Using your sprinter analogy, wouldn't quick apply to events of short
    or even negligible duration, and fast cover things that would be more
    measurable? Agreed, both are subjective.... Hmmm. When cascabel
    strikes, is he quick or fast? Quick, I think.
  4. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English

    I thought of that, but there are too many exceptions.

    I think it holds for many situations though.

    A "quick car" might do zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds.

    A "fast car" might do 190 miles per hour.

    But many people would describe the car that went "zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds" as a "fast car" (but I think "quick" is more appropriate).

    I think there are too many exceptions to make a really useful rule, but as a general statement, I think you are correct.

    I would say it was a "guideline" rather than a "rule".

    Which would you use?

    A cobra is so quick that you cannot avoid its fangs.

    A cobra is so fast that you cannot avoid its fangs.
  5. Yet Another Jefe Banned

    US - English
    Having some small experience with snakes, I'd have to say... quick(ly).

    Fast is how I'd drive to the Hospital. :)

    Quick - short duration/distance, Fast - longer duration/distance?

    Yes, it seems that it's more of an idiom than a hard and fast rule. No pun intended.
  6. kva Senior Member

    Thanks, for your quick replies:) I want to simplify things - we use "quick" for events or facts and "fast" for objects in action. For example, a quick reply (fact), a fast car (action). It's a pity that there is no rule:)
  7. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    In an office environment, I've heard both forms many, many times. What I usually hear differently, though is: "That was quick" or "That was fast"
  8. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    "Quick" can mean "prompt" ("immediate"), "lively", or "bright" ("intelligent"). So it seems to refer more to being ready and acting with minimal delay, but can still mean "fast".

    "Fast" refers to speed (velocity), i.e. the rate of covering distance in proportion to time.
  9. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    USA English
    Forero has it right. The words do have separate meanings. The common element is however that neither is slow. Apparently the prompt quality of quick has been usurped by fast. No matter how you use one or the other it seems okay if the result doesn't chaff the ear. The French have vitesse and rapidment and are very fussy about which one goes with how fast you talk or drive your car. In English we don't take much exception how we say it. It is a question of whether it sounds out of place. I don't think we could say that Superman is quicker than a bullet. Or hear a mother tell her son, "Get to the table. Now! Fast! With colloquial expressions using fast or quick it is better to use the correct one.
  10. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    That's weird! Makes it sound like Superman can "do the job" more readily that a bullet. :eek:
  11. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    USA English
    The actually comic book description is "faster than a speeding bullet." This is not only familiar to our ears but it fits your definition of velocity above.
  12. asonnetrememberme New Member

    Fast is a measure of speed, while quick is a measure of time. For example, "I had a great day at the race track. My stock 1968 Camaro tripped the quarter mile speed trap at a fast 102 mph, with a quick elapse time of 13.99 seconds."

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