fairly/ quite /a bit /absolutely awful


Senior Member
Moroccan Arabic
"X will have to take the exam again because his results were ... awful."
1.fairly 2. quite 3. a bit 4.absolutely

This question was given in an important exam to me.

I think all the four choices can be used, and Ngram Viewer affirms my claim. But 'fairly' and 'a bit' are less used with 'awful' than 'absolutely' and quite'.

Your views are appreciated.
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I agree with Julian. It's an awful question, and a completely unfair one, because there is no single correct answer. Either #2 or #4 would make perfect sense, and #1 could also be considered acceptable.


    Senior Member
    I would choose 'quite'. I agree that the case is not clear-cut, but it's not supposed to be. The idea is to pick the best choice. Neither 'fairly' nor 'a bit' would qualify for that, not in context. So it's between 'absolutely' and 'quite'.

    Since this is an ESL test, one might assume that whatever the student is supposed to answer is also an example of how he is recommended to otherwise speak or write. To me 'absolutely awful' is more emphatic and emotional than 'quite awful'. I think students are generally taught to express themselves with moderation.
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