I read the following in a TOEIC book:

Q. The Captain’s Seafood Restaurant can ________ seat up to twenty guests in its Starboard Lounge.

A. spaciously B. comfortably C. abundantly D. evenly

Answer: B. comfortably

((Source: ETS TOEIC Official Prep Book [Publisher: YBM]))

As you know, ‘comfortably’ has two different usages:

1. in a comfortable way Ex. All the rooms were comfortably furnished. Ex. If you're all sitting comfortably, then I'll begin. Ex. You should be able to live comfortably on your allowance.

2. with no problem SYNONYM easily Ex. He can comfortably afford the extra expense. Ex. They are comfortably ahead in the opinion polls.

((Source: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary))

The book says the meaning of ‘comfortably’ in the question is #1. However, I think the meaning of it is #2, not #1. What do you think?

Thanks in advance.

  • 4
    I think it has shades of both meanings. There is easily enough room for 20 people to eat there in comfort (not squashed together). Commented Feb 19 at 9:01
  • If it was the latter sense it would imply it could actually seat more than 20 people, but fitting in 20 is easy. But the meaning is more likely that it can seat exactly 20 people and they are all comfortable. The use of "up to 20" suggests that the limit is 20, and with that it's full and no more can be squeezed in. I agree it's not totally unambiguous and could be made clearer.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 19 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


I have just checked the Longman Dictionary Online by Pearson. One of the meanings of the word "comfortably" is given as "in a way that makes you feel physically relaxed". This definition matches with the first one of yours.

"With no problem" generates a technical sense in mind. However, it is about the team's serving that would occur in a relaxed way because there were less people.

It always uses better when you check other dictionaries.

Longman Dictionary

  • What 'team"? What are they served? The OP's meaning #1 is not necessarily the same as (but similar to) the definition you give. You also don't really seem to address the question of which meaning you think is intended in the example sentence.
    – Joachim
    Commented Feb 20 at 17:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .