How to Spell Pretty — a Quick Spelling Guide

Pretty means moderately attractive, emphasizing grace or delicacy, like a pretty flower. Someone or something is beautiful if its shape, color, or other qualities are perfect. It could also entail noble and spiritual qualities, like a beautiful landscape or a beautiful woman.

But what does it mean when someone says, “I’m pretty disappointed” or “pretty much”? How does a word that means “pretty” fit into those sentences? The honest answer is that it doesn’t.

The word “pretty” is an adverb used with pretty sure, pretty good, pretty bad, pretty disappointed, etc. For example, “pretty sure” is a metaphor. It doesn’t mean “pretty” or “good-looking.” It just means “almost without a doubt.”

And the meaning of “pretty” changes when used as an adverb. It can also mean the opposite of what you think it means.

Pretty can sometimes get more substantial, like the word “very.” Other times, it makes a phrase less clear, like when someone says, “I’m pretty sure.”

In this guide, you’ll learn to tell which meaning someone is using when you hear them say the word ‘pretty’. You will also learn how to spell pretty and everything pretty really means. Here we go!

white and red roses on gray wooden surface
Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash

What Part of Speech is Pretty?

Since the late 16th century, the qualifying word pretty, which means “fairly or moderately,” has been common usage. Although most prevalent in informal speech and writing, it is not limited to those contexts. 

1. Pretty as an Adjective

Most of the time, “pretty” is used as an adjective. “Pretty” can also be used as an adverb to describe an adjective. Check out this example.

  • Deborah is a pretty lady. 

In this sentence, “pretty” is a word that describes the noun “lady.”

2. Pretty as an Adverb

There are four ways to use ‘Pretty’ as an adverb. We will discuss how to figure out which meaning is used when you hear it.

  • Pretty reinforces

Native speakers frequently substitute pretty for “very” or “really.” Pay close attention to the intonation. How a word is spoken can affect whether it has a good or negative connotation.

  • Pretty Diminishes

We know that pretty can heighten the meaning or feeling of an adjective or adverb. It might also have the reverse effect.

Native speakers soften an adverb or adjective with pretty. It is used in place of “quite,” “somewhat,” and “fairly.” “Pretty sure” means, “quite sure,” or “almost certain.”

  • Pretty Estimates

Pretty means that something is “nearly exactly” as described in a description.

  • Pretty Is Indecisive

If someone says that they are “pretty sure” most of the time, the statement equals uncertainty.

How to Determine the Correct Meaning of the Word “Pretty” in Context

Because the word has so many connotations, it might be challenging to identify one from another. To assist you to grasp what a speaker is saying, here are some tips:

1. Listen carefully for intonation

Does the speaker seem unsure or confident? Additionally, you can employ visual indicators such as body language and facial expressions.

2. The speaker’s emotional state

Is the speaker angry, elated, sarcastic, or delighted? What emotion do you see in their speech?

3. Analyze the context

Before deciding what beautiful means, consider the surrounding context. Consider the words that precede and follow pretty to determine the intended meaning.

How to Spell Pretty

“Pretty sure” is a very common phrase in American English. It’s pronounced “pzhdy suzh”. Even though the way it sounds can be confusing, pretty is spelled with a double “t”.

The spelling may confuse non-native English speakers because the correct way to say pretty is [prti], but double ‘e’ is often pronounced like “I,” so preety is a common mistake.

To Wrap Up

A person who claims to be pretty sure about something is saying that you should do additional research or seek a second opinion because they aren’t 100% certain. 

Pretty is a word with several meanings, but generally, its spelling comes from its use as an adjective. Now that you know how to use “pretty” as an adverb in English, I’m sure you can decipher the meaning of pretty in conversations.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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