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Adverbs of degree in English

Meanings and usage

General principles

Adverbs of degree

Adverbs of degree or of intensity are used to modify the intensity of qualifying adjectives. and sometimes of other adverbs.

The main adverbs of degree  are:  enough, extremely, fairly, highly, pretty, quite, rather, slightly, so, (all) that, too, very.  Several more adverbs, such as incredibly or positively, can be used as adverbs of degree, though they imply more than just degree.

Generally speaking,  adverbs of degree come before the adjective they qualify, but this is not always the case. 

We need to distinguish between adjectives that are used attributively (i.e. before the noun) and those used predicatively, which normally means after the verb be. Compare the way good is used in these examples:

Attributive and predicative adjectives  

Attributive use:  a good book.  or  good children  or  three good reasons
Predicative use: This book is good,   Those children are not very good.  His three reasons seemed good.

How adverbs of degree are used in English

Pay particular attention to the examples highlighted in yellow.
Examples : adverbs of degree qualifying attributive adjectives, and qualifying predicative adjectives.
  1. Very  This is a very useful page about grammar  - This page is very useful.
  2. Extremely This is an extremely useful page about grammar !  This page is extremely useful.
  3. Fairly -  I had a fairly good day today.  My day was fairly good.
  4. Highly - It was a highly complicated situation to be in..   The situation was highly complicated.
  5. Pretty -  There's a pretty obvious answer to the question.  The answer is pretty obvious.
  6. Slightly - I'd like a slightly cheaper alternative, please!  This alternative is slightly cheaper.
  1. Enough -  That's a good enough answer!   That answer is good enough.
  2. Quite -  That's quite a good answer!   That answer is quite good.
  3. Rather -   That's a rather good / rather a good answer!  That answer is rather good.
  4. So / such - This is such a good answer.   That answer is so good.
  5. (All) that  - That simple a solution is amazing.    The solution was not (all) that simple.
  6. Too -  I don't think he's having too good a time !   This is just too good.


For more information, check out pages on  enough, so, and such

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