Pretty Darn Good – Valuing things with Good and Bad

By Jacqueline Schaalje

You probably say good and bad a hundred times a day.

The movie was bad. The food was good.

Instead of saying good and bad all the time, you can use more exciting words such as beautiful, breathtaking and awesome, or the opposite: terrible, horrendous and hideous.

But you can also vary your valuations (= giving your opinion, from the word value) of things by putting pretty, very and various other modifiers before the good and bad.

Native speakers do this all the time.

Pretty good, eh?

Now the question is what all these valuations mean.

Is pretty good the same as very good or is it less good?

And what about quite good?

And terribly good?

And does horrendously bad mean the same as very bad?

To make sense of all this, have a look at this infographic.

Pretty darn good

You should try to use this kind of language. It will make you sound like a native speaker of English, and it will make your use of English more interesting.

And try the quiz as well.


Choose the meaning that is closest to the phrase in the question.

Do this quiz online here and check your answers. 

1 Kyle is terribly good at this video game. Does this mean…

I can never beat him.

I might be able to beat him.

I will definitely beat him.

2 The horror movie was horrendously bad. This means that…

It was quite bad.

It was pretty bad.

It was horrible.

3 The restaurant we went to yesterday was pretty good. Does this mean….

The food was tasty.

The food was terrible.

The food was quite bad.

4 The dress that I saw in the shop was quite nice. This means that…

I will definitely buy it.

I may buy it.

I won’t ever buy that hideous potato sack.

5 The new telephone my sister bought looks pretty ugly. What does this mean?

It’s unbeautiful.

It looks quite nice!

It doesn’t look bad at all.

6 The internet course I spent doing the past month is actually fairly difficult. What I mean is…

A child can do it.

It’s too easy.

It’s not too easy.

7 The wicked witch is pretty unkind and the bad fairy is not very kind. What this means is…

The wicked witch is prettier than the bad fairy.

The wicked witch and the bad fairy are both unkind.

The wicked witch is friendlier than the bad fairy.

8 My child’s drawing of an elephant is not quite perfect. This means that…

You can barely see an elephant in it.

Nice try!

It’s pretty incompetent.

9 The food I eat is kind of healthy. What do I mean by this?

I eat lots of junk.

I eat junk but only when I’m depressed.

I try to eat healthy, but don’t always succeed.

10 That painting is pretty darn good. Does this mean…

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it.

It was awful.

It was kind of nice.

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