fewer and less

Fewer is the comparative of few (used before plural nouns)
Less is the comparative of little (used before uncountable nouns which are singular)

  • few problems/ fewer problems
  • little money/ less money
  • I’ve got fewer problems than I used to have
  • I earn less money than a postman.

In informal English, some people use less with plural words

  • I’ve got less problems than I used to have.

fairly, quite, rather and pretty

1. Fairly modifies adjectives and adverbs. It is not very strong:
if you say that somebody is “fairly nice” or “fairly clever”, she will not be very pleased.

  • “How was the film?” “Fairly good. Not the best one I’ve seen this year”
  • I speak Greek fairly well – enough for most everyday purposes.

2. Quite is a little stronger than fairly

  • ” How was the film?” “Quite good. You ought to go”
  • He’s been in Greece for two years , so he speaks Greek quite well.

Quite can modify verbs

  • It was a good party. I quite enjoyed myself.

3. Rather is stronger than quite. It can mean “more than is usual” , “more than was expected” or  “more than is wanted

  • “How was the film?” “Rather good- I was surprised”
  • Maurice speaks Greek rather well. People often think he’s Greek
  • I think I’ll put the heating on. It’s rather cold.

Rather can modify verbs

  • I rather like gardening.

4. Pretty is similar to rather. It is only used in informal English

  • “How are you feeling?” “Pretty tired. I’m going to bed”

5. Note

  1. The exact meaning of these words may depend on the intonation used
  2. Quite is not used very much in this way in American English
  3. We put quite and rather before a/an
  • It was quite a nice day.
  • I’m reading rather an interesting book

for, since, from , ago and before

1. For, since and from ‘point forwards’ in time
Ago and before ‘point backwards’ in time.

2. We use for to say how long something lasts

for + period of time

  • I once studied the guitar for three years
  • That house has been empty for six weeks
  • We go away for three weeks every summer.
  • My boss will be in Italy for the next ten days.

When we talk about a period of time up to the present, we use for with the present perfect tense (have+ past participle)

  • I’ve known her for a long time (NOT I know her…)

A present progressive with for often refers to the future.

  • How long are you staying for? (=Until when)

We can leave out for with How long….?

  • How long are you staying?
  • How long have you been waiting?

3. From and since give the starting point of an action or state: they say when something begins or began.

from/ since + starting point

  • I’ll be here from three o’clock onwards.
  • I word  from nine to five.
  • From now on. I’m going to go running every day.
  • From his earliest childhood he loved music
  • I’ve been waiting since ten o’clock.
  • I’ve known her since January.

Since gives the starting point of actions and states that continue up to the present; from gives the starting point of other actions and states

4. For and since can both be used with the present perfect (have + past participle). They are not the same

for+ period

  • I’ve known her for three days.
  • I’ve been here for a month.
  • I’ve had my car for ages.

since + starting point

  • I’ve known her since Tuesday.
  • I’ve been here since July.
  • I’ve had my car since 1980

For, during and while

For and during

We use for + a period of time to say how long something goes on:

for two hours / for a week / for ages

  • We watched television for two hours last night.
  • Diane is going away for a week in September.
  • Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for ages.
  • Are you going away for the weekend?

We use during + noun to say when something happens (not how long):

during the film/ during our holiday/ during the night

  • I fell asleep during the film.
  • We met some really nice people during our holiday.
  • The ground is wet. It must have rained during the night.

With ‘time words’ (for example: the morning / the afternoon / the summer), you can usually say in or during:

  • It must have rained in the night, (or during the night)
  • I’ll phone you sometime during the afternoon, (or in the afternoon I

You cannot use during to say how long something goes on:

  • It rained for three days without stopping, (not during three days)

Compare during and for:

  • I fell asleep during the film.
    I was asleep for half an hour.

During and while

We use during + noun:

  • I fell asleep during the film.
  • We met a lot of interesting people

We use while + subject + verb:

  • I fell asleep while I was watching TV.
  • We met a lot of interesting people during our holiday, while we were on holiday.

Some more examples of while:

  • We saw Clare while we were waiting for the bus.
  • While you were out, there was a phone call for you.
  • Chris read a book while I watched television.

When you are talking about the future, use the present (not will) after while:

  • I’ll be in London next week. I hope to see Tom while I’m there.
    (not while I will be there)
  • What are you going to do while you are waiting? (not while you will be waiting)

farther and further

1. We use both farther and further to talk about distance.
There is no difference of meaning.

  • Edinburgh is farther/further away than York.

2. We  can use further (but not farther) to mean ‘extra’, ‘more advanced’, ‘additional’

  • For further information, see here
  • College of Further Education