Gradable adjectives and adverbs

March 21, 2011pdf

Some adjectives and adverbs refer to qualities that are gradable – for example stories can be more or less interesting, jobs can be more or less difficult. Other adjectives and adverbs refer to qualities that are not gradable. Examples are: perfect, round, impossible or dead. Nothing can be more perfect or round.

Gradable adjectives and adverbs can be used with degree modifiers like too, as, so, enough, extremely, very, rather, pretty, quite, fairly, a little, a bit etc.

  • The tea is too hot.
  • She looked rather unhappy.
  • We are very glad to meet you.

A bit and a little are mostly used with adjectives and adverbs expressing negative ideas.

Note that enough goes after the adjective or adverb it modifies.

  • She is old enough to know better. (NOT She is enough old to know better.)

Indeed can be used after very + adjective/adverb. It cannot be used without very.

  • It is going to be very difficult indeed. (NOT It is going to be difficult indeed.)

Notes

Not very shows quite a low degree.

  • She isn’t very tall. (= She is quite short.)
  • I wasn’t very impressed. (= I wasn’t impressed at all.)

Note that the degree modifiers very, too, as, so, and how are not used with much before adjectives and adverbs.

  • I am very happy. (NOT I am very much happy.)
  • She is too fat. (NOT She is too much fat.)
  • I don’t care how difficult it is. (NOT I don’t care how much difficult it is.)
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