a quite・・ /quite a・・

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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, I wonder why Glenfarclas changed the adjective from unusual to good for his N-gram.

    Taking "unusual" as the adjective:
    Google Ngram Viewer

    The OP's sentences are both correct in BE, and—as they stand—they have the same meaning.

    1 He is a quite unusual man.
    I think this can only be read as "He is a little unusual". It may be possible to read it as "absolutely unusual, if the context suggests it. (I speak BE.)
     
    Last edited:

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Yes, I wonder why Glenfarclas changed the adjective from unusual to good for his N-gram.
    Because the construction is about twenty times more common with "good" than it is with "unusual," which makes the results more reliable.

    The OP's sentences are both correct in BE, and—as they stand—they have the same meaning.
    I didn't say it was wrong, only that it is less natural. While it's true that the graphs are about the same for "unusual," my theory holds up for "bad," "heavy," "tall," "fast," "slow," "strong," etc.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    For me, both sentences do work with "unusual", though I admit that (1) sounds a little "off" and I'd always prefer (2).

    I agree that the construction in (1) is generally to be avoided.

    Here, I've compared the two constructions...with "unusual".:)

    Google Ngram Viewer

    The possiblity of ambiguity with "quite" in (1) is a good reason not to use it. There isn't always ambiguity though:

    That is a quite good reason not to use it.
    That is quite a good reason not to use it.
     
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