By: Teacher Ellen
When can we add modifiers like ‘very’, ‘extremely’, and ‘a little bit’ to adjectives? It depends on whether the adjective is non-gradable or gradable.
Do not use modifiers with non-gradable adjectives.
An adjective is non-gradable if it:
(a) is binary (0 or 1, All or nothing)
For example, dead and man-made are binary. The bird cannot be a little bit dead. It is either dead, or it’s not.
She picked the dead bird up.
There is nothing in between.
The lake was either man-made, or it wasn’t.
One of the main of my hometown is a man-made lake in the south.
(b) contains ‘very’ within its meaning
- Freezing means very cold.
- Delighted means very happy.
- Exhausted means very tired.
If you use ‘very’ before these words, it is equivalent to saying, “I’m very very happy,” which is unnecessary repetition. Likewise, “She’s a little bit very cold” doesn’t make sense.
All other adjectives are gradable and can be modified.
You can use modifiers like ‘very’, ‘ a bit , and ‘extremely’.
- She is sad.
- She is really sad.
- She is not very sad.
- She is happy.
- She is really happy.
- She is not very happy.
- John is tall.
- John is unbelievably tall.
- John is pretty tall.