Adverbs of Degree for intermediate learners

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 are used to indicate the intensity or degree of something. They are typically used to answer questions such as 'how much' or 'to what extent'.

Common Adverbs of Degree

Some of the most common adverbs of degree are:

  • Hardly
  • Completely
  • Very
  • Slightly
  • Absolutely
  • Entirely
  • Most
  • Pretty
  • Quite
  • Too

Adverbs of Degree: Placement

When we want to use adverbs of degree in sentences, we can use them in either of the four positions below:

Amber is totally done with you.

Well, you should absolutely look into it.

As you can see, the adverb of degree is modifying the verb.

This house looks really luxurious.

As you can see, the adverb of degree is modifying an adjective.

I want you to run a bit quickly.

Here, the adverb of degree is modifying another adverb.

She might completely forget about the appointment.

You could almost be dead by now!

  • After the auxiliary verbs have and be

I had completely forgotten about that project.

It is totally going to cost you a great deal of money.

Adverbs of Degree: Types

In English, there are two types of adverbs of degree, which are:

Intensifiers

Intensifiers are used to add emphasis to the action in a statement, making it more forceful or stronger. Below is a list of common intensifiers in English:

  • Really
  • Very
  • Extremely
  • Absolutely
  • Totally

Now, let us learn how to use them by studying the examples below:

When I told her the terrible news, she was completely devastated.

Does Angie really think that I don't care about her?

Warning!

Keep in mind that the intensifiers we use with gradable adjectives are different from those used with ungradable adjectives because gradable adjectives can be measured, while ungradable adjectives cannot. Compare the following examples carefully:

The weather is very hot today.

'Hot' is a gradable adjective, so it can be intensified using 'very'

Everything is totally free here.

As you can see, we cannot say something is 'a bit free' or 'a lot free' because it is a fixed state.

Mitigators

In contrast to intensifiers, mitigating adverbs of degree are used to weaken the impact of an action in a statement, making it less forceful or strong. Let us explore some of the common mitigators in English:

  • A bit
  • Slightly
  • Hardly
  • Barely

Now, let us learn how we can use them in sentences:

She could barely walk after the incident.

As you can see, the sentence is suggesting that the person was not able to walk that much.

Could you read a bit slower? I can't follow you.

Tip!

It is important to understand that 'very' and 'too' have slightly different usages as intensifiers. While both words are used to intensify adverbs or adjectives and are placed before them, "too" has a negative connotation and can imply that the degree of the quality being described is excessive or undesirable. Pay attention to the following examples:

The party was very fun.

Here, the sentence shows that the person has enjoyed the party greatly.

The party was too fun.

In this case, the sentence shows that something happened in the party that brought about an unwanted result.

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