Adjectives: modifiers


Gradable adjectives

Some adjectives (e.g. cold, small, tired) are gradable. This means we can modify them with normal modifiers (e.g. very, quite). For example, we can intensify an adjective:

  • She is very intelligent.

Alternatively, we can weaken an adjective:

  • All of the photos are quite good but none of them are amazing.

Non-gradable adjectives

Some adjectives can not be intensified with standard intensifiers because they already represent an extreme. For example, disgusting or enormous. With these adjectives, it is more common to use strong modifiers such as absolutely or completely.

  • The food was absolutely disgusting.
  • The food was very disgusting.

Note: it is unusual to use a strong modifier with a gradable adjective:

  • I was absolutely tired.
  • I was very tired.
Further learning
Description Author Language
An overview of extreme/strong adjectives and the adverbs we can use them with. Espresso English