Typos are handled by Duo, not by course creators, so complaints about typo handling should be in the general forums. The general idea of Duo's typo handling is that you can have one letter wrong unless that turns the word into another word. It gets a bit unfair if you compare how it works in English vs other languages, because they obviously use a much larger database for English.
So is bus neuter or utrum (en bus or ett bus)? Looking it up, I find "bus, buset, bus, busen" (i.e. regular neuter), but in this sentence we have "bussen" as singular definite utrum (as is unambiguously indicated by the form of the adjective)... So are there different possible forms?
Where I am from (and I have lived/travelled in several parts of the English speaking world) quite would never mean entirely. In other contexts quite can mean close to completely eg I am quite happy. That was quite nice. etc. But never in the setting of a countable object like people on a bus where it is specifically used to mean NOT entirely. What regions do you know of that use it as completely/entirely?
I suppose it depends on how you emphasise it - for instance, I assume you agree that it's easy to use sarcastically in that way? And if you reverse the polarity of the phrase, it can virtually only mean "completely" - that is, "the bus is not quite empty yet". You could also insert it in a dialogue:
- Is there still noone on the bus?
- No, it's quite empty.
(My English is a bit of an hodge-podge, but I know I'd have used it that way when I was living in Dublin.)
Yes that is absolutely true. The emphasis is important and the meaning can change a lot depending on the emphasis. It is certainly a confusing word that usually means the same thing technically but can mean a multitude of things figuratively. Rather a tricky word to teach I imagine!
"Not quite empty" still implies that it is not entirely empty though, it is only "fairly" empty. Whereas the other phrase you give - "No it's quite empty" certainly can mean completely. I think it can also be used as an exclamatory statement: "Quite!" could easily mean precisely, exactly, completely, I agree entirely etc.
I still dispute that in the sentence in this exercise (Bussen är helt tom) that "quite" could mean anything but "mainly" or "pretty" and specifically works to emphasise the opposite of completely/helt. (Unless I have misunderstood the meaning of helt. Perhaps I have taken it too literally?) I guess if you used quite in an exclamatory fashion mid sentence it would lessen its meaning to something that could almost resemble helt but it still seems wrong to allow it as an answer for students learning English.
As for sarcasm... well that is really opening a can of worms in terms of learning a new language! I guess words can behave in the most contrary of ways when used sarcastically!
Regarding "not quite empty" - yes, that's my point: if you add a "not", then "quite empty" and "completely empty" are synonymous.
Just to be clear, I absolutely agree that "quite empty" should clearly not be anywhere near a default for this sentence. I just maintain that it can mean it, and that it's not weird enough to disallow. But if there are enough complaints, I'm certainly open to reinterpretation. :)
Yes I agree - in the setting of not quite empty, "quite" and "completely" are actually interchangeable. But without the not (as in this sentence) the meanings are almost opposite. In fact, it is better to translate "not quite" to almost, rather than to translate the words individually in this sentence.
There are certainly other instances where it is more ambiguous, where quite can mean something almost (but not quite - see what I did there!) synonymous with completely/wholly but the sentence "Bussen är helt tom" is not one of those cases. In fact if I were teaching English, I might use this sentence to demonstrate the difference between quite and completely as it seems a good example of where they have distinctly different meanings. Thinking very laterally: If you were to use quite to mean completely/wholly here then it would definitely be a sarcastic comment that utilised a deliberate "under-exaggeration" (Sorry, my English is wearing out at the moment and I can't think of a better term for this right now!) for comedic effect. As in "Oh my, the bus is quite full" haha... but even then the meaning is still that it is not completely full and that is the "joke". (Joke in the loosest sense of the word!)
To me quite is the opposite of completely when used without a "not" as you describe and would be an actively incorrect answer to this question not just a not ideal one. (Unless of course helt can sometimes be used more figuratively ie to mean wholly or almost wholly? If this is the case then by all means quite could be translated from helt. I certainly am a beginner when it comes to svenska!)
This seems nitpicky, but I think it would confuse me if I were learning to speak English. As it is I am having enough fun trying to remember how to differentiate (in theory I think I am starting to get it but it is easy to forget in practice!) between all the words that mean "really, actually, very" etc (amongst other things!!!) And now my brain is doing language somersaults from thinking about this in far too much detail! I don't think I had realised exactly how nuanced English can be!
I re-read this quote "Is there still no-one on the bus?" "No it is quite empty"* and I now think I can see how this could be used in a way that could feasibly mean completely if used with an ascending pitch emphasis on the word quite. (My words - I don't know how to formally describe the pitch of a sentence or word so I hope it makes sense to you!).
I think it comes back to the use of quite in an almost sarcastic manner. Or rather the casual UK/Ireland manner of deliberately understating the obvious as a manner of speech. I still ascertain that it is very misleading to allow quite as a correct answer in this question as this is a very specific situation and a very specific regional use of the word and I think obfuscates the usage that is vastly more common.
*Yes - I did put on an Irish accent a few times to make sense of it!! haha
In reply to your impression that 'quite empty' could never mean 'totally empty', here's a link to a forum where a native speaker of British English who sounds credible enough claims it means that to them: https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/quite-different-sentence-stress-different-meaning.2332559/
Btw Duo userUKCynthiaR has shared some interesting 'quite' experiences with us here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8070095
Sorry. I have to mainly disagree with your interpretation of what these individuals have said on this matter. The examples they give do not confirm that quite can ever mean completely - in fact they are good examples of where it always means almost. I agree completely that quite can be either quite negative or quite positive depending on the stress on the words in the sentence but (having lived in US and NZ and been raised by Brits, and worked in tourism) I have never ever ever come across quite being used to mean completely in a setting of a tangible object. Yes, it can mean close to completely but it always means "almost completely" and never ever "completely completely" in this context. Not ever! The phrases used in the examples you give still mean either "not very" or "very" rather than entirely.
I agree entirely with what this woman says - it is an unusual word that can be used in a variety of ways. I am not certain that her interpretation of the geographical divide is strictly accurate though, (I would actually think the opposite interpretations in my experience with my American husband!) but certainly different people may interpret it in different ways as she demonstrates. In neither of her examples does "quite" mean entirely however:
"You are so correct. My husband is English and I am American. We use "quite" ever so differently. I could say 'the evening was quite wonderful' and he might well think that I didn't enjoy myself. He sometimes uses the word and I assume it's positive (because 'quite' is intrinsically positive to me) but he is being scornful or dismissive of something. We now know to ask "Which 'quite' was that?" when in doubt. It really can be used in all too many ways, now that I think of it. ;-)"
In this comment, the writer gets it wrong:
"I remember quite to be a strange adverb because the sentence changes its meaning according to where the stress in the sentence is. One meaning should be sufficiently and the other completely. Which is which? Bolded words are the stressed words in each phrase." My brother is quite intelligent. My brother is quite intelligent
I am afraid that neither of those sentences equate to "completely intelligent". (Does it even make sense to say that someone is completely intelligent? I don't think an absolute statement really works here.) The stress on quite with an upwards inflection means yes, he is really very intelligent. the stress on quite but long/drawn out or even a downwards inflection means he is not very intelligent. Even very isn't the best word here, rather would fit better but then we still aren't pinning down the meaning of quite. The sentence can mean very different things and there are so many different ways of stressing the words in it - I have given only two examples - (as well as so many contexts within which it could be said) that alter its meaning significantly.
"...it means "completely" when the adjective has endpoints, so 'quite empty' means "completely empty". But in BrE, not AmE, it means "somewhat, rather, to some middling degree" with an open-ended adjective like 'intelligent'. In your two sentences, both have the "somewhat" meaning for me, with a slight difference in emphasis; neither of them has the "completely" meaning. I don't think we do that with stress; it depends rather on the adjective."
I agree with the bulk of what this comment asserts except that again "quite empty" does not mean "completely empty", it means "almost completely empty". This is perhaps a subtle difference but an important one to those learning English.
I have been conversing with a number of people about this (because you guys have made me doubt my knowledge in this area) including a teacher of ESOL who is widely travelled also. The consensus is that whilst quite has a wide range of meanings from very positive to mildly positive it can never mean completely in this setting, no matter how close to completely it implies.
One further note:
As I said above, there are occasionally instances where one might use "quite" in a sarcastic manner to mean completely. eg. Someone fills my glass to overflowing and I joke that "That glass is quite full". The joke there is that it is completely full. The use of "quite" in that context is as a deliberate under-statement of the situation for comedic effect. So, I guess there is one way in which it means "completely" but certainly not one I would be teaching learners about!
One further note (haha sorry, clearly I have spent some time thinking about this one!):
I concede having thought some more that there are a few instances where it means something so close to completely as to be essentially synonymous with it. These circumstances are always when talking about something abstract and not tangible such as one's patience for nonsense, or the beauty of a scene, or one's certainty about a topic.
"I have had quite enough of your nonsense"
" It is really quite beautiful" (again this one can still carry some ambiguity though!)
"I am quite sure that that is the case"
Where-ever a tangible/measurable thing is being discussed - such as how empty a bus is - quite cannot be translated as completely as the word literally means less than completely in that setting. So in this question the answer should not ever be quite, if helt literally translates to completely.
Does that clear up some of the confusion around the different uses of quite? It is easy to go to an online dictionary and see that it gives "entirely" as a synonym - but that is not the whole picture! This is definitely an instance where I am glad English is my native tongue!