Gradable adjectives and adverbs
Some adjectives and adverbs refer to qualities which are gradable. For example, people can be more or less pleasing; jobs can be more or less difficult. Other adjectives and adverbs refer to non-gradable qualities – we cannot have more or less of them. Examples are perfect, impossible, dead, round.
We use certain words or expressions to add the idea of degree to gradable adjectives and adverbs. They are called degree modifiers. Examples are: very, too, as, so, enough, rather, somewhat, pretty, moderately, quite, fairly, a little, a bit etc.
- This book is very expensive.
- The tea is too hot.
- She is quite tall.
- I am extremely grateful to you.
- You are driving a bit fast.
- It was a rather unpleasant experience.
Points to be noted
A little and a bit are mostly used before adjectives and adverbs expressing negative ideas.
- She looked a bit tired. (BUT NOT … a bit happy/pleased.)
We do not use a little and a bit with adjectives in attributive position.
- It was a rather strange experience. (NOT … a bit strange experience.)
Enough comes after its adjective.
- You are not old enough to have grandchildren.
In a formal style, must can be used before adjectives with the same meaning as very.
- That is most interesting. (= That is very interesting.)
Before adjectives and adverbs, very, too, so, as and how are normally used without much.
- She is very beautiful. (NOT …very much beautiful.)
- She is too young. (NOT … too much young.)
- I don’t care how expensive it is. (NOT … how much …)
However, these words can be used with much before comparatives.
- It is very (much) colder than yesterday.