Learners' Questions

Intermediate level

What are the differences between 'fast', 'quick' and 'quickly'?

Episode 191112 / 12 Nov 2019

This week's question

What are the differences between 'fast', 'quick' and 'quickly'? - Ruben on YouTube

Answer this

Is 'fastly' the correct adverb from the adjective 'fast'?

Language points

Fast and quick - the similarities

Fast and quick are both adjectives and both mean 'moving or happening at speed'. You can often use either and the meaning is the same.

  • This car is very fast. This car is very quick.
  • The punch was so fast, the boxer didn't see it. The punch was so quick, the boxer didn't see it.

As adverbs

Fast and quickly are adverbs of manner – notice 'fast' not 'fastly'. Again, they mean moving or happening at speed. In many cases you can exchange them.

  • The lightning struck fast. The lightning struck quickly.
  • He punched me so fast, I didn't see it! He punched me so quickly, I didn't see it!

The differences

Quick can mean 'happening over a short time' or 'finishing quickly'.

  • Let's have a quick meeting. Can I have a quick word?
  • After only a quick glance, her quick thinking came up with a solution.

Quick can also mean 'intelligent' or 'understanding quickly'.

  • He's very quick. Show him something once and he's got it.

Fast can be a noun meaning 'a period of not eating'. It can also refer to something that is ahead of time, such as a watch.

  • Is it time to stop fasting? I'm not sure because my watch is fast.

Collocations and fixed phrases

  • In quick succession means coming speedily one after another.
  • Cut someone to the quick means hurt their feelings greatly.
  • Play fast and loose with somebody or something means treat something / someone without care.
  • Hold fast means remain firmly where you are or keep the same opinion.

The answer

No, we do not use 'fastly'. 'Fast' is both an adjective and an adverb.

Do you have a question?

If you have a question for Learners' Questions, email us on learning.english@bbc.co.uk