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How correct/common/proper is "pretty" as an adverb? It is hard for me to see, since it's my native dialect, but I say "pretty often" pretty often, and "fairly often" fairly rarely. Does "pretty" mark me as informal or uneducated or rustic?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

The NOAD reports that pretty used as adverb is informal, and it means to a moderately high degree, fairly: he looked pretty fit for his age.

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Can someone explain to me how 'pretty' is an adverb in "he looked pretty fit for his age"? Doesn't 'pretty' modify 'fit' in this example, and isn't 'fit' a noun? – oosterwal Feb 2 '11 at 22:55
fit is also an adjective; in the sentence I reported, it is an adjective, similarly to nice in she looks nice. – kiamlaluno Feb 3 '11 at 7:35

It's informal, but correct. The Cambridge dictionary lists an adverb form.

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It is very general, vague, and probably overused, so the use of "pretty" doesn't really ever come off as sophisticated in speech or writing. But like Neil Fein says, it is perfectly correct. – Kosmonaut Aug 17 '10 at 3:00

It's pretty common.

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