Does "quite a bit" make sense?

birdman

Senior Member
Taipei, Taiwan
It rained quite a bit.
It rained quite a lot.

When you hear these two sentences, what's in you mind? “a lot” and “ a bit” are different in meaning. Could “quite a bit” and “quite a lot” denote the same quantity?
 
  • mplsray

    Senior Member
    It rained quite a bit.
    It rained quite a lot.

    When you hear these two sentences, what's in you mind? “a lot” and “ a bit” are different in meaning. Could “quite a bit” and “quite a lot” denote the same quantity?
    Like quite a few, quite a bit is an idiom and must be considered as a whole. I would equate It rained quite a bit with It rained a lot.
     

    birdman

    Senior Member
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Hmmm....

    "a bit (or a few)" is not equal to "a lot", but "quite a bit" is synonymous to "quite a lot." This is why it puzzles me.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Hmmm....

    "a bit (or a few)" is not equal to "a lot", but "quite a bit" is synonymous to "quite a lot." This is why it puzzles me.
    That's why I made a point of quite a bit being an idiom: Its meaning cannot be derived from its component parts.

    (Compare I couldn't care less and I could care less. As used in American English, these have precisely the same meaning.)
     

    Vikorr

    Senior Member
    Australia, English
    Think of it this way : English is a complicated language - very few native speakers achieve a very high standard in English. To speak it well also takes discipline (though I can't think of how to explain the why of this). Because of this, people get lazy and speak 'easy' english. Some 'easy' english becomes common place, meaning you will find many grammatically incorrect phrases that are in common use.
     

    MissFit

    Senior Member
    Quite a lot is a literal statement, and quite a bit is an understatement used to describe the same thing.
    Other phrases work the same way. If someone goes without sleep for three days, he might say, "I'm quite tired," literally or, "I'm a little tired," as a deliberate understatement.
     

    difficult cuss

    Senior Member
    English England
    It is part of the "great" (or daft perhaps) British quality of understatement, "not bad" meaning "good" "not half" meaning "totally" "that's nice" meaning "it's truly awful" (used to spare other's feelings).
    Or at least that's how I've always seen it.
     
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