Quite Well Meaning:
If you have ever heard someone use this phrase, it was most likely in response to the question, ‘how are you?’
In this context, ‘quite well,’ is like saying, ‘Things are very good for me at the moment.’
It can also be used to describe how something or someone is progressing or doing, for example.
How is your new car?
It goes quite well! It is very fuel efficient.
The reason ‘quite’ can be confusing to many English students is because it can mean one of two things.
- I was quite surprised when my wife told me she was pregnant.
- The cake was quite lovely.
In our first example, quite, is used to say that the man was completely surprised by his wife’s announcement.
In the second example, however, quite is used only to describe the cake as better than the average but not the best, not completely.
The meaning of the word is influenced by what is known as gradable and non-gradable adjectives.
A non-gradable adjective is similar to a superlative; there is nothing higher. Therefore in our first example, quite surprised, means completely, because you are either surprised or not.
Here are some examples of non-gradable adjectives where we can use the word quite.
- We were quite over when I caught him cheating on me.
- You were quite right about him.
A gradable adjective on the other hand as a scale of strength. Although the cake was “quite lovely” in our example, it is like saying very lovely, but not the best.
Here are a few more examples.
- It was quite a long journey to get here.
- I have quite the headache.
We can see from the examples that there is a scale, it is gradable. In the end, however, try adding quite to your vocabulary, it’s one of those words which becomes more understandable to use with trial and error. Until then you will have quite an adventure learning how to use it quite well!