Lesson #237 (Part 2): ‘To what extent?’ Adverbs that modify Adjectives

📘 ‘He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural sensation of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her power with him was gone for ever.’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (1818)

Welcome back to our Lesson on common adverbs that modify or describe adjectives.

In Part 1 of this Lesson, we saw how these kinds of adverbs can intensify the level of an adjective.

👉 This is because most adjectives are gradable, that is, they can have different levels of that adjective’s intensity. So for example, ‘tall’, ‘more tall’, ‘less tall’, etc.

To adjust the level of that adjective’s quality, we may use adverbs that intensify or modify it (e.g. ‘more’, ‘less’, etc).

However, not all adjectives are gradable. 👈

✍️ Some like ‘free’, ‘terrible’, ‘enormous’, ‘excellent’, and ‘perfect’ are called non-gradable or extreme adjectives, because what they describe is an absolute – either something is in that state or it isn’t (e.g. ‘excellent’, ‘miniature’, ‘furious’, etc).

Extreme adjectives like these cannot take every kind of modifying adverb, since by their very nature they simply do not have levels of intensity.

❌ So never make the mistake of saying a sentences like ‘that novel was very perfect’.❗

✍️ The only exception to the rule is ‘quite’, an adverb that can be used to modify gradable and non-gradable adjectives alike.

✍️ As a gradable adjective modifier it intensifies the adjective’s meaning (e.g. ‘he was quite tired’ meaning ‘he was very tired’), while on the other hand it gives an idea of completeness (e.g. ‘the mouse was quite tiny’ meaning it was ‘absolutely tiny’).

Keep reading to learn, with help from Jane Austen’s Persuasion (1818), how we can correctly use adverbs such as ‘quite’ in English!

#6 📝 QUITE – (as a gradable adverb) fairly, somewhat; (as a non-gradable adverb) entirely, absolutely, completely

📘 ‘She was ashamed of herself, quite ashamed of being so nervous, so overcome by such a trifle; but so it was, and it required a long application of solitude and reflection to recover her.’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphases mine)

📘 ‘ “Oh! yes, – I am quite convinced that, with very few exceptions, the sea-air always does good ..” ’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphases mine)

📘 ‘ “So I got Sophy to lend me a hand, and we soon shifted their quarters; and now I am quite snug, with my little shaving glass in one corner, and another great thing that I never go near.” ’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphases mine)

📘 ‘Anne, wearied of such a state of stagnation, sick of knowing nothing, and fancying herself stronger because her strength was not tried, was quite impatient for the concert evening.’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphases mine)

..

#7 📝 MOSTto the greatest or highest degree

📘 ‘He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural sensation of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her power with him was gone for ever.’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphases mine)

✍️ NOTE: Here we have two adverbs, ‘most’ and ‘warmly’, modifying the adjective ‘attached’.

..

#8 📝 ALWAYSat all times, every time, at every opportunity

📘 ‘ “I am not fond of the idea of my shrubberies being always approachable …” ’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphases mine)

..

#9 📝 REALLYin actual fact; very, thoroughly

📘 ‘Anne, really tired herself, was glad to sit down; and she very soon heard Captain Wentworth and Louisa in the hedge-row, behind her, as if making their way back along the rough, wild sort of channel, down the centre.’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphases mine)

..

#10 📝 TOOexcessively, overly; in addition, also

📘 ‘Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever … Too good, too excellent creature!’

– Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphases mine)

Of course it is impossible (a non-gradable adjective, by the way 😉) to cover everything in one Lesson, even if it is in two parts!

✏️ So in closing I will leave you with more such adverbs to add to your vocabulary (even though I am sure that you have already seen some of these before)!

  • very
  • completely
  • slightly
  • enough
  • very
  • fairly
  • more
  • enormously
  • entirely
  • rather
  • almost
  • equally
  • absolutely
  • barely
  • just
  • completely
  • enough
  • greatly
  • deeply
  • virtually
  • incredibly
  • scarcely
  • terribly
  • practically
  • barely
  • somewhat
  • clearly
  • just
  • beautifully