'quite a bit less/more' (why not 'quite less/more'?)

AnaBuñuel

New Member
Spain (Spanish)
Hello everybody!

I wonder why it's not correct to say 'quite less/more' and you should say instead 'quite a bit less/more'.

For instance, when you are having lunch - someone else is helping you and he/she asks you - 'Are you having seconds?' - you say - 'Yes, but quite a bit less' (why not 'quite less'?).

You can say 'much more/less', or 'much prettier'; and also 'quite pretty' (meaning rather), but 'quite prettier'??? (why not?)

Arent' both adverbs?

Please, give me an explanation!!
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello AnaBuñuel, and welcome to WordReference.

    Less, more and prettier are all comparative.

    It seems that we don't normally use quite to modify comparatives, they need more quantitative modifiers.

    Others may have a clearer and more grammatical explanation.
     

    englishinmadrid

    Banned
    England - English
    I wonder why it's not correct to say 'quite less/more' and you should say instead 'quite a bit less/more'.

    For instance, when you are having lunch - someone else is helping you and he/she asks you - 'Are you having seconds?' - you say - 'Yes, but quite a bit less' (why not 'quite less'?).

    You can say 'much more/less', or 'much prettier'; and also 'quite pretty' (meaning rather), but 'quite prettier'??? (why not?)
    I think this may be one of those situations in which grammatical analysis doesn't help too much.

    My initial thoughts:

    Wherever you can use "a bit" you can also use "quite a bit" and "a tiny/little bit". In terms of magnitude, the order is: "a tiny bit" "a little bit" < "a bit" < "quite a bit". So "quite a bit" means "a bit plus some more". In this case, the word "quite" is part of the expression, you should not regard it as the same in "quite pretty".

    True, we don't say "quite prettier" - we would say "quite a bit/lot prettier". I am trying to decide why...

    Using "cold" as a simpler example:

    extremely cold - very cold - quite cold - fairly cold - rather cold - a bit cold - quite a bit cold(?)
    extremely colder - very colder - quite colder - fairly colder(?) - rather colder - a bit colder - quite a bit colder

    So, the extremes cannot be used with comparatives - that would be "highly, very, totally, incredibly, perfectly" and others. This is not really grammar, just "common sense" - I suspect that the same would be true in other languages - in Spanish, "totalmente mas frio" wouldn't make sense.

    Now, the special case is the word "quite" - in its original meaning it was an extreme. "Quite perfect" meant "totally perfect" and "quite pretty" meant "totally/perfectly pretty". In modern use, the meaning of "quite" has become distorted so that it now tends to mean "fairly", "averagely". But, it seems that we still follow the "logic" of treating it as an extreme when using comparatives. So, that's why we don't normally say "quite prettier" nor "quite less", but do say "quite a bit prettier", "quite a bit more/less". I think :)
     

    englishinmadrid

    Banned
    England - English
    Ok, my own summary:

    Modifiers which represent extremes cannot be used with comparatives (logic, not grammar.)
    "quite" represents an extreme (due to it's original meaning.)
    "quite a bit" is an expression and does not represent an extreme.
     

    englishinmadrid

    Banned
    England - English
    Great explanation, Englishinmadrid!!
    Thanks! It was a good question too - I had to think about it for a considerable time. I think I should wait for a comments from one or two more native speakers before I can say that my solution is correct and complete, but I feel confident :)
     
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