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Post by navi » 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.



Re: rather

Post by Phil White » 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.
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

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