Pretty is not only an adjective but can also be used as an adverb! The qualifying adverb “pretty” means fairly, quite, relatively, or moderately. I’m going to share a few phrases that use pretty as an adverb to show humility, express surprise, or to downplay something.
Let’s get started.
So you’ll see with these phrases that we tag pretty to the front of the phrase.
To Show Modesty (intensify meaning, like “really” or “very”)
She was pretty wise to sell her stock when she did. Who knew that company was going to have a rough year?
She’s pretty smart, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard.
I’ve been able to build quite a bit of muscle on my new training program. I feel pretty good about it!
These muffins turned out pretty well for my first time baking them!
I feel good about that interview. I think it went pretty well.
To Show an Estimation (“more or less” or “approximately)
I’m pretty much done filing my taxes. I just need to review them one last time.
Are you done packing for your trip? Pretty much.
That professor is a tough grader, but in my experience she’s pretty fair.
She seems like a strict parent but I think she’s still pretty fair.
To Downplay Something
It’s been a pretty slow day other than hitting a milestone on our YouTube channel!
I’ve finished 21 audiobooks this year which is pretty cool. It would’ve taken me longer to read them though because I’m a pretty slow reader!
I think it’s pretty likely Jim will bring his famous pasta salad. He never shows up empty handed to a dinner party.
It was a pretty uneventful vacation. But it was really nice to relax by the beach and sip lemonade.
To Express Surprise or Uncertainty
I wish I’d brought my sweater. It’s pretty chilly.
It’s pretty hot for October. I definitely didn’t bring enough summer clothes. I didn’t realize it was going to be 90 degrees this week!
I found her to be a pretty nice doctor! Based on all the reviews I was expecting someone cold and rude!
I thought that restaurant was pretty expensive for what it was. And the menu wasn’t even that creative!
So there you have it, phrases with the adverb pretty in them to help intensify or weaken meaning or approximate. You can use these phrases to show modesty, show an estimation, downplay a situation or opinion and to express surprise or uncertainty. Be sure to listen to how the speaker uses these phrases by paying attention to the context of the communication, listening for intonation, and picking up on any emotions.
Which of these phrases do you think you’ll start using in your next conversation? Did anything here surprise you? Have you encountered pretty as an adverb before? Feel free to share that experience with us in the comments below.
See you in the next one where we’ll continue advancing your English together! Until then, keep up the awesome work.