Is there any difference between "quite" and "enough"? Please suggest the proper usage.

I'm not quite happy.


I'm not happy enough.

  • 1
    "I'm not quite happy." and "I'm not happy enough," are quite different. Different enough that this question needs more context. Please provide example uses.
    – some user
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 9:47
  • Your example is good enough. I feel some difference there, but can't explain it in some formal way... Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 9:53
  • Are you thinking of expressions like "We've had quite enough!"? This actually usually means "too much" (chastising somebody for doing or talking too much).
    – Merk
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 9:54
  • It was enough embarrassing - we didn't have quite sugar. Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 9:56
  • "The swimming pool is quite deep. But it's not deep enough." Use of "enough" sometimes implies a quantifiable measure. "The pool is not deep enough, because it needs to be at least 3 meters deep."
    – some user
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 9:56

4 Answers 4


Quite - a quantifier, specifying a finite, discriminate amount. In the case:

I'm not quite happy.

You are supposing that there exists some numeric scale of happiness, and that the measure of happiness which you have is less than that needed to be qualify as "happy". In this phrasing, there is no overlying sense of the commitment to seeking happiness; the phrase is intended instead to provide a sense of scale of the happiness of the person. Use of the word quite here could be done in the following manner:

I experienced five problems in the last two days. I am only happy when I have experienced less than two problems in the last two days. I'm not quite happy.


Enough - sufficient to a degree; qualitative.

I'm not happy enough.

This phrasing has a relationship much more with the degree to which a person is committed to seeking a goal. No amount of happiness is specified; moreover, the use of "enough" is intended to note primarily the discrepancy between where the author is and where the author desires to be. The following use of "enough" may be helpful:

I've been having problems, and problems make me sad.
It's not that I'm always in a dour mood. I'm not happy enough.


Not quite means ‘not completely’. Not . . . enough means ‘to an insufficient degree’.

Your examples are unlikely sentences, because happiness is not generally talked about in that kind of way. A better example of the use of not quite would be ‘I haven’t quite finished’, and a better example of the use of not enough would be ‘ ‘I haven’t studied enough.’


One definite difference is that quite can never be an adjective:

We have enough food.

We have *quite food. (wrong)

However, quite and enough can both be adverbs:

We have swum enough for today.

We have quite a lot of food.

He quite knows what he is talking about (this last one is almost exclusively British).

  • 2
    No, no, no. Your implication is that enough in We have enough food. is an adjective. It's not - it's a quantifier. Look this up. (Quantifiers are usually considered a subset of determiners.) Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 9:58
  • 2
    @Edwin It's not my implication, it's my very assertion. I was reared in the old school, where 'this' in 'this book' is a demonstrative adjective, not a determiner. I'm a throwback, so sue me. In any case I don't see how modernizing the POS really sheds any additional light in this example.
    – Merk
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 10:05
  • Just because there is a new label doesn't make it -totally- different. A determiner acts like in adjective more than it acts like a noun.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 11:52
  • @Merk: I'd suggest you need a refresher course. At english.stackexchange.com/questions/101188/… is: The set of eight classes is still taught in [some] schools; it is found in many grammar books ... (and even in one or two textbooks of linguistics); and it is the list used by many dictionaries of English in assigning part-of-speech labels. But it is grossly inadequate. And, in particular, the article at random-idea-english.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/… has a fine treatment on the what and why of the determiner word class. Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 13:23
  • @Mitch: A cheetah acts like a leopard more than it does a bullfrog. It doesn't make it one. And Merk is suggesting that a difference between 'enough' and 'quite' is that 'enough' can be an adjective - as many believe it can't, his diagnostic fails. I also was taught that there were 'demonstrative adjectives', in a probably equally old school environment, but I've changed my grammar as better models have come along. A Model T was OK to get along with in its day, though my modern car has fewer faults. Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 13:26
  • I'm not quite happy. = I am almost happy.

  • I'm not happy enough. = I am happy, but would like to be happier.

They could be considered expressions of the same kind of sentiment, even though the literal meaning is different.

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