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My book says 'quite a lot' is smaller than 'a lot' in number/amount. Is it really true??
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YEs I'd agree with that.

Quite is a funny sort of modifier. We've discussed this elsewhere but it can often mean 'to a small amount' or very 'faint praise'. It can even be a way of politely being unenthusiastic about something..this cake is quite nice, means it's ok, nothing wonderful, perhaps you are being polite to the person who baked it and it is terrible!
Dear friends,

May we perhaps also say that «quite» intensifies? I have heard «quite a beauty», which is «very much a beauty».

Kind regards, Emotion: smile

Goldmund
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Is there any case where 'quite a lot' is actually used otherwise, meaning larger than 'a lot' in number/amount? Or is it impossible to use it that way?
Dear Taka,

It is my theory that «quite a lot» may be used in British understatement. It may then exceed «a lot».

Kind regards, Emotion: smile

Goldmund
I'm familiar with its use as an intensifier, like in Goldmund's example, meaning, in this case, 'more than a lot'. Context is most likely the final arbiter of whether 'quite' intensifies or minimizes the word it modifies.
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I'm familiar with that use as well, goldmund, davkett, and that's why I posted the question.

Leaving aside the context problem, davkett, do you think it's rather the 'BrE vs. AmE' thing, as goldmund says?
TakaLeaving aside the context problem, davkett, do you think it's rather the 'BrE vs. AmE' thing, as goldmund says?

Sorry, Taka. I'm not the right person to ask.
I'm not familiar with this faint-praise usage of "quite a lot". I'd have said "quite a lot" is more than "a lot" -- end of story! It also takes on the flavor of "really a lot". This is probably because I speak American English. I don't know.
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