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The Best of the Blog

Settembre 2014
The Speak Up blog answers any questions you may have either about the English language or our articles. Write to us (preferably in English) at: http://blog.speakuponline.it. The most interesting questions will be published on this page. A word of warning, though: our blog is not a translation or homework service!

You’re quite right!
Could “quite” mean completely or not enough in the same phrase? For example, “You’re quite right.” Does it depend on the accent?

Don’t worry, the use of the adverb “quite” can also be confusing for mother-tongue speakers, but in the case of “quite right” the situation is relatively straightforward. If someone says “quite right,” then the meaning is “absolutely right.” It doesn’t depend on accent or intonation. When it comes to trying to understand the use of “quite” in English, a general rule of thumb is that if the adjective being qualified by the adverb “quite” is “moderate” (for example, “good,” interesting” etc.), then the meaning is likely to be “abbastanza.” For example, “The meal was quite good.” If, on the other hand, the adjective is “stronger” or “superlative” (like “brilliant,” “amazing” etc.), then the meaning will be “assolutamente.” For example: “Cate Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine is quite brilliant.”

Falling over
What’s the difference between fall over, fall down and  fall off?

Most people “fall over.” “Fall down” is rarely used by itself these days, but you can “fall down” a staircase or a hole. And you can “fall off” a cliff, a bicycle, a horse etc.

Some like it hot
When talking about food people say “hot” to mean  spicy. So what adjective do you use when you talk about the temperature of the food? Do you need to say warm?

Hot is also fine for the temperature of food (as are warm and cold).

Hadrian’s Wall
Which is correct: Hadrian’s Wall or Hadrian Wall?

Hadrian’s Wall is the correct term. Hadrian Wall would be the name of a person (if, for example, Mr. and Mrs. Wall decided to play a cruel joke and call their son Hadrian.)

I’ll do it tomorrow...
What’s the difference between postpone and put off?

There’s no great difference, although “postpone” suggests that there’s a precise new date, while “put off” could imply that there isn’t.

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