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Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:26 am
by navi
1) These apples are rather tasty.

What does that mean to you?
a) The are somewhat tasty.
b) They are tasty and that is surprising.
c) They are surprisingly tasty.



Re: rather

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:43 pm
by Phil White
It depends how the sentence is delivered.

This usage of "rather" is often very complex. In many cases, it is a heavily understated way of saying that the apples are extremely tasty. This applies, for instance, when the adjective has a positive connotation, as in this case. Depending on context, it can carry additional sub-meanings:
  • ... so I shall have another one.
  • (in a supermarket, for instance) ... so I suggest we buy those ones.
  • ... so I had better not buy too many of them as apples upset my stomach
If the adjective has a negative connotation, the meaning is more likely to be "somewhat": "The apples are rather bland". But again, it could be an understated way of saying "very".

Sometimes there can be an element of surprise or contradiction:
"That was a good meal." "Oh, I thought it was rather uninspiring."

The intended meaning will depend on context.