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1) As I know, 'quite' has 2 meanings which contradict each other. One is 'fully',completely', and the other one is 'rather','pretty'. How am I supposed to know which one is meant?

2) 'Put (an) emphasis on (smth)'

When do I need an 'an' article (if I need it at all)?

Thanks
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Hi, Mav', here's what I've found:

1) quite: adv] to a degree (not used with a negative); "quite tasty"; "quite soon"; "quite ill"; "quite rich"

2) I personally would say either "I want to put the emphasis on/an emphasis on"

Consider this as the begining of an answer till a native sees your post, right?
Hi Anne

According to what I found 'quite' does mean to a degree but it can mean either to an extreme degree or to a moderate\small degree. That's the whole fuss -- a word has two contradictory meanings.

Thanks anywayEmotion: wink
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Hello

The sense of 'quite' depends on which word you put the stress.

(1) Mav speaks English quite fluently. Mav speaks very fluently.
(2) Paco speaks English quite fluently. Paco doesn't speak very fluently.

paco
1) "quite" means "completely" when preceded by "not". In fact, "not quite" means "not completely" in the sense of "almost completely". This may be its most common use.
Otherwise, it also means "completely", but it requires a very loose interpretation of "completely" at times. That is, "quite" can be used in an exaggerated sense so that, even though it literally means "completely", the practical meaning is "rather" or "somewhat". This looser interpretation often occurs with words which don't combine readily with "completely", for example "near". (See below.)

(Asterisked sentences below are anomalous.)

It's not quite 3 o'clock. = It's not 'completely' (i.e., not yet exactly) 3 o'clock.
*It's quite 3 o'clock.

I'm not quite sure. = I'm not completely sure. (But I am almost sure.)
Are you quite certain of it? = Are you completely certain of it?

*The task is not quite difficult.
The task is quite difficult. = The task is 'completely' (i.e., rather, very) difficult.

*George doesn't live quite near.
George lives quite near. = George lives 'completely' (i.e., rather, very) near.

*His explanation was not quite interesting.
His explanation was quite interesting.
= [taken as a sincere expression:] His explanation was 'completely' (i.e., rather) interesting -- I really found it very interesting.
But = [taken otherwise:] His explanation was 'completely' (i.e., rather) interesting -- I found the explanation somewhat unbelievable and/or exaggerated -- I wonder what the real explanation is.

Alice wasn't quite ready. = Alice wasn't completely ready. (But she was almost ready.)
Alice was quite ready. = Alice was completely ready.

I didn't quite understand. = I didn't completely understand. (But I 'almost' understood.)
I quite understood. = I completely understood. (I understood all too well.)

2) You can put emphasis on something. You can put the emphasis on something. And you can put an emphasis on something.

CJ
Hi CJ,

I didn't quite understand. = I didn't completely understand. (But I 'almost' understood.)
I quite understood. = I completely understood. (I understood all too well.)

-------------------------------
1) I quite didn't understand = I completely didn't understand?

2) I quite succeeded = I completely succeded
3) I quite didn't succeded = I failed; (absolutely???) didn't succeed
4) I didn't quite succeed = I almost succeeded ?

Is that right? (I guess no)
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Hi Paco

How am I supposed to know where the emphasis is?
Hello Mav

In writing you can't feel where the stress is put, but in speaking you can.

paco
Yes, but anyway it'd be very nice to me to know how to readEmotion: smile
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