(quite) recently

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casino

Senior Member
Japan
Does "quite recently" refer to a more distant past than "recently"?
I think that there is an AE/BE difference in the use of "quite".

Casino
 
  • theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Hi Casino,

    To me, there's no clear distinction between "recently" and "quite recently" in terms of the time period they indicate. I would probably use "quite recently" to indicate that I was unsure as to exactly how recent the event was, whereas "recently" implies less uncertainty--but not necessarily that the event was more recent.

    If there's a BE / AE difference, I don't know about it.:)
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Does "quite recently" refer to a more distant past than "recently"?
    Not in AE. In AE, "quite recently" means "very recently". If you compare "very recently" with "recently", "recently" happened farther back in time than "very recently."

    I think that there is an AE/BE difference in the use of "quite".
    You're right. I've learned from British members in this forum that "quite" can mean "somewhat" or "rather" in BE.
     

    casino

    Senior Member
    Japan
    Then, what adverbs do American prople use to indicate a bit further from the present than "recently" on its own?

    Casino
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    They might use something like "fairly recently" if it happened not too long ago. If something happened a few months ago, they might use "That happened a while ago/fairly long ago."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You're right. I've learned from British members in this forum that "quite" can mean "somewhat" or "rather" in BE.
    :thumbsup: "A long time ago", "some time ago" = "quite a while ago", "a while ago", "a little while ago", "fairly recently" = "quite recently", "recently", "very recently", in that order.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Recently" is an approximate term.

    In BE, if we look at adverbs that indicate an approximate time ago that do not mention a specific time, we have in increasing length of time:

    "I saw him just now." -> approximately a few minutes ago.
    "I saw him quite recently."
    "I saw him recently."
    "I saw him not so long back."
    "I saw him a while ago."
    "I saw him quite a while ago."
    "I saw him some time ago."
    "I saw him quite some time ago."
    "I saw him a good time ago."
    "I saw him quite some time ago."
    "I saw him ages ago." -> probably many years ago.
    "I saw him absolutely ages ago." -> at least a decade ago.

    (i) The quite is emphatic, thus it reduces the time for adverbs that indicate a short time and increases it for adverbs that indicate a long time.
    (ii) all timespans are approximate.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You can see from my and PaulQ's posts that we disagree. I regard "recently" as more recent than "quite recently". I do not regard "quite" in this context as being an intensifier. Similarly, "I see him often" means seeing him more frequently than "I see him quite often", whereas PaulQ's post would suggest that he regards "I see him quite often" as seeing him more frequently than "I see him often".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    How do you see:

    Policeman: "When did you last see Jim Brown?"
    Witness: "Recently."
    Policeman: "How recently?"
    Witness: "Oh, quite recently."

    and

    Policeman: "When did you last see Jim Brown?"
    Witness: "A while ago"
    Policeman: "What do you mean?"
    Witness: "Oh, quite a while ago." ?
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    You can see from my and PaulQ's posts that we disagree. I regard "recently" as more recent than "quite recently". I do not regard "quite" in this context as being an intensifier. Similarly, "I see him often" means seeing him more frequently than "I see him quite often", whereas PaulQ's post would suggest that he regards "I see him quite often" as seeing him more frequently than "I see him often".
    I agree with you, Andy, especially about "quite often" being less often than "often." My partner, on the other hand--a Canadian like me--is on PaulQ's side and insists that "quite recently" is more recent than "recently." It would be very strange if this were to break down on strictly idiosyncratic lines rather than BE / AE, but so far it seems to be going that way!
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To be fair, in post #7 you gave a bald list but did not give an explanation or context. I can only imagine:

    Policeman: "When did you last see Jim Brown?"
    Witness: "It was quite a while ago"
    Policeman: "What do you mean?"
    Witness: "Oh, It was a while ago."

    which seems strange, if we are agreed that "quite" adds something.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    To be fair, in post #7 you gave a bald list but did not give an explanation or context. I can only imagine:

    Policeman: "When did you last see Jim Brown?"
    Witness: "It was quite a while ago"
    Policeman: "What do you mean?"
    Witness: "Oh, It was a while ago."

    which seems strange, if we are agreed that "quite" adds something.
    I gave a list of time phrases in order of duration. I would have thought that ample explanation. Your example conversation here is, frankly, contrived and, therefore, pointless as a basis for discussion. Anybody who says at a police interview "It was quite a while ago", followed when asked to be more specific by "Oh, It was a while ago" is prevaricating, not providing information. I would not attempt to interpret his answer because it is clearly meaningless. Your previous dialogues are not much better, but I have already told you how I interpret each time phrase when it is used in a normal, as opposed to artificial, conversation.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Then an example of your opinion, if you have one to hand, would be welcome. :thumbsup:
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm sorry, PaulQ, but I don't understand what you are asking. I can think of no situation where anybody would attempt to clarify an approximate time expression by using another. I gave a list of how I perceive the order of various such expressions. If I want to have a more accurate description it will be phrased in years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes or seconds.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    No, I'm not after accuracy as to time, that would be off-topic, more some context in which your opinion is demonstrated, preferably with and without the contrasting version with "quite."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I wrote
    "A long time ago", "some time ago" = "quite a while ago", "a while ago", "a little while ago", "fairly recently" = "quite recently", "recently", "very recently", in that order.
    You wrote
    we have in increasing length of time:
    "I saw him quite recently."
    "I saw him recently."

    (i) The quite is emphatic, thus it reduces the time for adverbs that indicate a short time and increases it for adverbs that indicate a long time.
    After your comment I wrote
    You can see from my and PaulQ's posts that we disagree. I regard "recently" as more recent than "quite recently". I do not regard "quite" in this context as being an intensifier. Similarly, "I see him often" means seeing him more frequently than "I see him quite often", whereas PaulQ's post would suggest that he regards "I see him quite often" as seeing him more frequently than "I see him often".
    I can't see what more there is to add. We disagree about the role of "quite" in such sentences.
     
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