A Hard Quality (‘Friends English Lesson’)

TV Series: Friends
Episode: Season 1, Episode 10 ‘The One With the Monkey’
[view transcript, with English notes]

In the S01E10 of Friends, there’s a scene in the coffee shop in which David and his colleague say “a hard quality”. Let’s learn about this English expression, and talk about whether you should use it in English conversation with native English speakers.

The conversation goes like this:

David: Daryl Hannah was the most beautiful woman that he’d ever seen in his life and I said yeah, I liked her in Splash, a lot, but not so much in- in Wall Street, I thought she had kind of a

Max: Hard quality.

David: – hard quality. And uh, while Daryl Hannah is beautiful in a conventional way, you are luminous with a kind of a delicate grace. Then, uh, that-that-that’s when you started yelling. (Sits down)

What Does ‘Hard Quality’ Mean?

'A Hard Quality' - Is This a Useful Expression? (Friends S01E10)

You probably already know the meaning of each of these words separately. “Hard” in this case means:

  • not soft
  • not pleasant
  • rigid, tense, frigid
  • rock-like

When they say “hard quality”, they mean something like “unappealing and unkind.” They are describing Daryl Hannah’s character in the 1987 movie, Wall Street as less friendly than her character in the 1984 film, Splash.


When Should I Say ‘Hard Quality’?

Great question!! This is actually not a common English expression. Because this is the first time we are meeting David, the writers of Friends wanted us to know that he’s a scholarly scientist guy – the kind of person who’s a professor at a University. That sort of person usually has detailed discussions with their colleagues, and in those discussions, the language usually becomes unnecessarily complicated. That’s what’s happening here!

It’s not common to describe someone by saying they have a hard quality. This is just a way to let us know that David is a scientist guy, who sometimes thinks too hard about things. 🙂



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