Phrases like "so sorry", "very sorry" are commonly seen, but "quite sorry" sounds odd to me. At first I thought it might be because "quite" doesn't usually go with words representing negative meanings. for example, "quite good" sounds common to me, yet "quite bad" somehow sounds off (maybe I would say "not quite good" instead). I know there's nothing grammatically wrong with "quite sorry", so I'ld like to know how others feel about the word "quite" going with words representing negative meanings. Thank you!

  • 1
    Quite bad sounds fine to me. Although I've never heard quite sorry, I have heard I'm quite sorry.
    – Anonym
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 4:33
  • I might say quite sorry if I was talking about someone for whom it had not occurred to anyone to feel sorry for; and where the degree of feeling sorry is not overwhelming. Currently I feel 'quite sorry' for Steve Gerrard, who has just ended his career as the England football captain, since it has come at a low point in the team's fortunes. So he is going out on a low.
    – WS2
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 8:03

1 Answer 1


When you apologise to someone, you want it to be as sincere as possible.

"Very" and "so" are both words that make something more - "so cool", "very cool".

"quite" however, is a limiter. Compare "quite cool" to "cool", the object that is just "cool" is better than the object that is "quite cool".

In the same way, being "quite sorry" suggests you don't care much about the person you are apologising to.

  • 1
    ... Which makes it sound like you're an a-hole. That's why people don't use it; you usually don't say sorry just to sound like you don't care.
    – tomsmeding
    Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 9:42

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