The word quite is often confusing to non-native speakers. Can you give me a list of words that typically collocate with quite when the meaning is 'extreme'?
I think that rather on the association with certain words, it depends on the context and use.
Quite has 2 meanings:
- to a certain degree;
- absolutely, completely.
See here for its usage, there is a note at the bottom.
Any of them? The word quite in this context is an adverb with the same grammar and roughly the same meaning as very. You can pair it with any adjective that you'd like:
- quite handsome
- quite yellow
- quite expensive
- quite heavy
Using quite in this way is somewhat formal, so in ordinary conversation you'd most often use very. (Edit: It's not really very archaic, so I removed that note.)
This is probably because I am American, but to me, the only time quite means anything like extreme is when it is negated. Then it means exactly, entirely, completely; so that not quite means not exactly, not entirely. This is very common, and you don’t have to memorize words that collocate with it because negated quite can modify just about anything:
I wasn’t quite ready to do it.
That’s not quite what I intended.
We tried to find other projects to do and never quite managed to pull anything together.
Otherwise, to me, it means markedly, to an unusual degree: He’s quite tall. But quite tall isn’t necessarily as tall as extremely tall.
Quite can mean exactly, entirely, completely even without negation, but then it strikes me as a bit British:
Quite right. / Quite so. (British stock phrases meaning yes, exactly)
I'd quite forgotten I had it. (British)
He knows how busy you are, of course, and quite understood. (oh so very British)
In American English, when quite modifies a verb, it is almost always negated.
Setting aside the negated uses, in American English quite appears most often in: quite different, quite frankly/honestly/simply, quite sure, quite well/good, quite possible/possibly/likely/often, quite surprised, and you’re quite welcome.