When to use ziemlich vs eher?
I'm wondering what the difference is between the two. There were two different examples given with the same translation: "Sie ist ziemlich schwer" (she is rather heavy) and "Das Haus ist eher klein" (the house is rather small). Sorry I didn't elaborate, I was in a hurry.
Ok, now I understand.
It is a bit difficult to describe the difference in English, but I´ll try. Both words have some more connotations, so I only refer to the connotation of your question.
We use ziemlich here to express, that something is very...
- Es ist ziemlich spät. (It is very late).
- Es ist ziemlich groß. (It is very big).
- Es ist ziemlich klein. (It is very small).
- Es ist ziemlich grün. (It is very green, more then normal).
- Das ist eine ziemlich gute Frage! (That´s really a good question!)
and so on. It can sometimes get an ironical connotation, especially in sentences like 'Du bist (ja) ziemlich spät!' - meaning, that someone is really late and should have come earlier. Also it can mean, that something is too...it depends on the situation and how the sentence is stressed.
With eher, we compare the statement to something, which we assume to be known.
- Es ist eher spät. (als sonst) (It is rather late as usually.)
- Sie ist eher klein. (She is rather small, but it is still ok.)
- Es ist eher grün. (It is rather green, but I wanted blue.)
This answer is only my 'Sprachgefühl', maybe other Germans may see it a bit differently. In addition, it is difficult to explain, because I do not know, how to express my feelings in English more accuratly.
There is another connotation for ziemlich:
- Aber ich denke, dass ich es schon ziemlich gut getroffen habe. (But I think, I managed not perfect, but quite good.)
The connotation of ziemlich is not big here, but rather 'almost' or 'nearly'.
Your example sentences:
- 'Sie ist ziemlich schwer.' (She is rather heavy.) She is very/quite heavy.
- 'Das Haus ist eher klein.' (The house is rather small.) (i. e. compared to the other ones or my imagination or what we/I wanted or whatever)
I think 'ziemlich' would be called an intensifier. It gives a little more oomph to the word that follows.
Ziemlich - Fairly - as in "thats fairly good" eher- rather - as in " that was a rather good meeting"
hope this helps maybe...