Adverbs of Degree

Adverbs of degree are mostly used before adjectives, adverbs, and verbs to intensify the term after them.

"Adverbs of Degree" in the English Grammar

What Are Adverbs of Degree?

Adverbs of degree show the intensity or degree of something. They answer the questions 'how much' or 'to what extent'. These adverbs usually modify other verbs, adjectives, or adverbs and make them stronger or weaker.

Adverbs of Degree: Placement

Adverbs of degree are usually placed:

  • before the main verb

The game is almost finished. (modifying the verb)

  • before the adjective or adverb

He ran quite slowly. (modifying the adverb)

She is very thin. (modifying the adjective)

Adverbs of Degree: Types

There are three kinds of adverbs of degree:


Intensifiers are a type of adverb used to add emphasis or intensity to an adjective or adverb in a sentence. They help to modify the meaning of the word they are attached to, making it stronger or more forceful.

Intensifiers: Common Examples

using 'very' as an adverb of degree

Here are some of the common intensifiers used to strengthen adjectives or adverbs:

  • very
  • extremely
  • totally
  • too
  • so

I ate very quickly.

I could totally hear her.

Intensifiers: Types

Intensifiers are further categorized into two groups:

  1. Intensifier + gradable adjectives (those that can have measurable levels of degree or intensity)
  2. Intensifier + ungradable adjectives (those that describe an extreme or absolute state)

Gradable adjectives show a point on a scale. For example, cheap and expensive are adjectives on the scale of 'how much something costs.' On the other hand, ungradable adjectives represent the two extreme limits of the scale, like priceless and worthless.
Look at some examples:

Intensifier + gradable adjective Intensifier + ungradable adjective
very hot absolutely boiling
extremely expensive completely priceless
really small absolutely tiny
very hungry totally starving

That new jacket looks absolutely expensive.

We can make gradable adjectives stronger with very, but not with the adverb absolutely.

That new jacket looks very expensive.


Moderators are relative based on the speaker's opinion. In other words, they are neither an intensifier nor a mitigator. For example:

  • quite
  • pretty
  • fairly
  • this
  • that

This and That as Moderators

'This' and 'that' both can be used as moderators, but, when we use 'this' we are usually talking about a current or recent situation.

I need a box this big.

He didn't expect to wait this long.

However, when we use 'that' we are talking about a past situation. It can also mean we had some expectations in mind, but it was not met.

I know you like her, but she's not that nice.

I just had lunch at McCarran's. It wasn't that good.


Mitigators, also known as downtoners, have the *opposite effect of intensifiers. They are used to make words and expressions less strong or forceful, reducing the emphasis on them.
These adverbs are commonly placed before the adjective or adverb.

Mitigators: Common Examples

Here are some common mitigators used to weaken the adjectives or adverbs:

  • rather
  • quite
  • pretty
  • a bit
  • fairly
  • slightly
  • somewhat

I'm fairly certain that it will rain tomorrow.

That last question was rather difficult.

Special Case: Enough

Unlike other adverbs, 'enough' as an adverb of degree appears after the adjective or adverb that it is modifying, not before it.
It is used in positive and negative sentences.

Is your tea hot enough to drink?

You didn't work hard enough.


'Enough' can also be used as a determiner. In that case, it will be placed before the noun it modifies.
It is used with plural countable nouns and with uncountable nouns.

We have enough money.

There aren't enough plates for all the guests.

'Very' vs. 'Too'

'Very' is used to emphasize the degree or intensity of an adjective, adverb, or phrase, while 'too' implies that there is a problem or an excessive amount of the quality being described, making it more than what is acceptable or possible. Compare the examples:

Maria is very young.

Maria is too young to get married.

This box is very heavy.

This box is too heavy for me to lift.


Adverbs of degree are used to express how much or how intensified something is. They are placed:

  • before the main verb
  • before the adjective or adverb
  • before or after the modal verb
  • after the auxiliary verbs 'have' and 'be'


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