English Language Lesson… How Hot?

While sitting at a table full of Brits having dessert, a most interesting gentleman sitting to my right posed this question:

If a British person were describing the weather to you and wanted to express how hot it was outside, which statement would tell you it was hotter?

“It is quite hot”    or    “It is rather hot”

Even though the answer seemed obvious to me, I hesitated.  If he was even asking, there must be a trick in here somewhere, and we had been talking about our language differences since being seated.  I still had to answer the only way that made sense to me… quite hot.

No!  Apparently any British person would know that when something is ‘rather’ it is not just a little, but a lot!  And according to my British friend Ros (whom I asked later to verify this ‘rather’   🙂   strange discovery), rather carries with it a pejorative feeling.  So when it is rather hot it is bothering you and making you miserable.

The gentleman went on to say that if a British person tells you something is “rather difficult”…. forget it!  He said that many problems had arisen in his business due to other English speakers assuming they should keep trying after being told something was ‘rather difficult’.  It is their polite way of saying “No way”!

Hmmm… this could prove to be very valuable.  Who knew?

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