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Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:26 am
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.
Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:43 pm
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.