My vocabulay book exercise says it's wrong to use a bit and a little with adjectives before a noun. For example, It's incorrect to say

It was a bit small flat. (flat as a noun like an apartment).

The book suggests the reader to use slightly instead. Now I'm wondering whether it's correct to use other adverbs such as: fairly, extremely, incredibly, pretty, rather, quite, etc.

Does the exception only hold for those two I've mentioned in the title and always work with others?

  • You can use slightly with some adjectives, but no-one would say "It was a slightly small flat". Slightly implies a very small degree - "My sister is slightly taller than I am" (perhaps she is taller by a few centimetres). You could use any of the other adverbs in your list. Sep 8, 2021 at 8:08

1 Answer 1


With "flat" as a noun meaning an apartment, your book is correct. You can't say "It was a bit small apartment."
However, you can use those qualifiers as predicate adjectives, for example,
"The apartment was a bit small." or "The apartment was a little small."

The vocabulary book is correct in saying that the other adverbs can be used with attributive adjectives (those that precede the noun).

I lived in a fairly small apartment/flat.

  • When I say flat it's a noun. Such an apartment I guess? Not flat as an adjective. Anyway I'll edit my question a bit. Sorry for the confusion.
    – user516076
    Sep 8, 2021 at 1:49
  • 1
    Sorry I misunderstood. I've corrected my answer. Sep 8, 2021 at 2:25
  • 1
    With little, there's the added complication that little can be both an adverb and an adjective. So we can say "a little black book", but it means that the book is small and black, not that it is slightly black.
    – JavaLatte
    Sep 8, 2021 at 5:09

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