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Pergunta: How are we supposed to know when it (pretty) means ''very'' and when ''fairly''?
For example in this context from the series Prison Break a mother is talking angrily to her son who was nearly arrested for possession of drug and tells her son: What were you trying to do, set a record? It's not funny, LJ. You could be going to jail. It's pretty obvious to me you need some guidance.
Resposta: Good question Ali, but not easy to answer. In English (more so in BE than AE, I suspect), we quite often add words that don't really add much meaning. There are two of them ('quite' and 'really') in the sentence I've just written. You could leave out both these words without materially affecting the meaning. I think you just have to judge by the rest of the context. If someone is involved with drugs, the mother thinks, that person obviously, definitely, clearly needs guidance. So here "it's pretty obvious" means "it's very obvious". As you noted, the mother was speaking 'angrily' - quite a categorical emotion. In other words, when you come across a phrase containing 'pretty', don't try to gauge the sense from the word 'pretty'. Form a judgement about what it means from any other markers, undertones, connotations or reasonable assumptions available in the text, and just see the 'pretty' as something of an essentially meaningless 'filler word', or an 'intensifier'. Words don't always carry textual meaning, they are sometimes there merely as part of the verbal 'body language'.
adriano78 escreveu:Quando pretty é advérbio, significa muito, bastante. No seu exemplo, o jantar estava muito bom.