I took this sentence from the students book. What is the best choice:

Being a doctor is a quite/ pretty stressful job?

In the book “pretty” is given as a correct variant, but with no explanation.


X is quite a stressful job. [standard register]

X is a pretty stressful job. [informal register]

The book should give both and explain both.

  • I just want to emphasize a detail in Lambie's answer. The hint is in the article placement. "Quite" comes BEFORE the article: Quite A stressful job. "Pretty" comes after the article: A pretty stressful job. Why does "quite" precede the article? That's a different question entirely. But, at least we can use that difference to help distinguish between words like "quite" and "pretty". – fjack Sep 19 '18 at 16:20
  • @fjack That's absolutely right. – Lambie Sep 19 '18 at 16:24
  • 1
    @fjack a quite stressful job is also grammatical. google.com/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 19 '18 at 17:18
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo perhaps "a quite stressful" is grammatical, but it's also so unusual that Google's Ngram viewer can't find it! books.google.com/ngrams/… – fjack Sep 20 '18 at 3:23
  • @fjack: First, it isn't unusual. I'm a native speaker of AmE and know that for a fact. It is frequently used in American English. Did you consult the link I provided? That NGram doesn't know about it, while Google Books does, is something you should take up with Google. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 20 '18 at 11:30

Dictionaries are very useful for English learners.

  1. adverb [ADVERB adjective/adverb]
    You can use pretty before an adjective or adverb to mean 'quite' or 'rather'.

I had a pretty good idea what she was going to do.
Pretty soon after my arrival I found lodgings.

Synonyms: fairly, rather, quite, kind of [informal]

Pretty (Collins Dictionary)

  • Thank you for your answer. I know, what “pretty” means, but I don’t understand: why “quite” is not suitable in my sentence. – Maria105 Sep 19 '18 at 16:03
  • 'Quite' is definitely suitable in your sentence in British English, but I suspect that although it is correct in American English, it is not much used. Who told you it was wrong? – Michael Harvey Sep 19 '18 at 17:26

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