The English language is filled with words that are spelled nearly the same but have very different meanings. Even a simple mistake can completely change the meaning of a sentence, or worse, render it nonsensical.
Many writers accidentally substitute the words quite and quiet for each other. We all make mistakes—even the best and most experienced writers are human.
Quite and quiet are both real words, so spell check software might not catch the mistake either. These substitutions can lead to embarrassment for the writer and confusion for the reader. Knowing the difference between these words is, therefore, very important.
Read on to find out whether you should choose quite or quiet in your writing, as well as a helpful trick to remember which of these confusing words is which.
What is the Difference Between Quite and Quiet?
In this article, I will compare quite vs. quiet. I will use each word in example sentences to illustrates its proper context. Plus, I’ll reveal a helpful trick to use when deciding whether to use quite or quiet in your writing.
When to Use Quite
What does quite mean? Quite is an adverb and is defined as to the maximum extent.
Here are a few examples,
- I have had quite enough of your games, Kris.
- The turkey is not quite ready.
- What delivers a thrill quite like the one that comes with a mystery gift in the mail? –The Wall Street Journal
Quite sometimes functions as an intensifier. It has a similar meaning to other intensifiers, like really or fairly. Here are two example sentences.
- The band is quite loud.
- “My instructions to you were quite clear,” Mariah said.
How Quite is Used
In his book Modern English Usage, Bryan Garner points out an interesting difference between quite when used as an intensifier in American and British English.
In American English, quite is generally used as a compliment.
- This pizza is quite good.
This would be taken as a compliment, similar to saying the pizza is really good or very good.
In British English, however, quite has almost the opposite connotation.
- This pizza is quite good.
This would be taken as a pejorative, similar to saying the pizza is fairly good. If I were to use fairly, as in “that place makes a fairly good pizza,” it would be more an admission of adequacy than a compliment, like I were about to add “but nothing special.”
When to Use Quiet
What does quiet mean? Quiet is sometimes an adjective, sometimes a noun, and sometimes a verb.
As an adjective, quiet means making little or no noise.
- Electric cars have very quiet engines.
- Officials have been quiet since then, and Herbert said Wednesday that “the issue seems to be dormant at best and maybe lost. We’ll have to see what happens.” –The Washington Post
As a noun, quiet means the absence of loud noise.
- All mom wanted was some peace and quiet.
As a verb, quiet means to stop something from making loud noise.
- Quiet down in there, we are trying to watch a movie.
Trick to Remember the Difference
Here is an easy, helpful mnemonic for remember quite vs. quiet.
You can remember that quiet refers to an absence of loud noise since it ends with a T, like the word silent. Silent also refers to an absence of loud noise, or more accurately, any noise at all.
Is it quite or quiet? Quite and quiet are two English words that are very easy to confuse, but they are actually different parts of speech.
- Quite is an adverb that means to the maximum extent.
- Quiet can be an adjective, noun, or a verb. In all cases it refers to an absence of loud noise.
There are no contexts in which quiet and quite are interchangeable. If you remember that quiet and silent both end with the letter T, and both deal with the lack of loud noises, you can make remember the difference between quite and quiet easier on yourself.
If you still need help remembering the difference between these two confusing words, you can always refer back to this article for a quick refresher.