ADVERBS OF DEGREE
UsageAdverbs of degree tell us about the intensity or degree of an action, an adjective or another adverb.
Common adverbs of degree:
Almost, nearly, quite, just, too, enough, hardly, scarcely, completely, very, extremely.
Adverbs of degree are usually placed:
- before the adjective or adverb they are modifying:
e.g. The water was extremely cold.
- before the main verb:
e.g. He was just leaving. She has almost finished.
- She doesn’t quite know what she’ll do after university.
- They are completely exhausted from the trip.
- I am too tired to go out tonight.
- He hardly noticed what she was saying.
Enough, very, too
Enough as an adverb meaning ‘to the necessary degree’ goes after adjectives and adverbs.
- Is your coffee hot enough? (adjective)
- He didn’t work hard enough. (adverb)
It also goes before nouns, and means ‘as much as is necessary’. In this case it is not an adverb, but a ‘determiner’.
- We have enough bread.
- They don’t have enough food.
Too as an adverb meaning ‘more than is necessary or useful’ goes before adjectives and adverbs, e.g.
- This coffee is too hot. (adjective)
- He works too hard. (adverb)
Enough and too with adjectives can be followed by ‘for someone/something’.
- The dress was big enough for me.
- She’s not experienced enough for this job.
- The coffee was too hot for me.
- The dress was too small for her.
We can also use ‘to + infinitive’ after enough and too with adjectives/adverb.
- The coffee was too hot to drink.
- He didn’t work hard enough to pass the exam.
- She’s not old enough to get married.
- You’re too young to have grandchildren!
Very goes before an adverb or adjective to make it stronger.
- The painting was very beautiful. (adjective)
- He worked very quickly. (adverb)
If we want to make a negative form of an adjective or adverb, we can use a word of opposite meaning, or not very.
- The house was ugly OR The house was not very beautiful
- He worked slowly OR He didn’t work very quickly.
BE CAREFUL! There is a big difference between too and very.
- Very expresses a fact:
He speaks very quickly.
- Too suggests there is a problem:
He speaks too quickly (for me to understand).
Other adverbs like very
These common adverbs are used like very and not very, and are listed in order of strength, from positive to negative:
extremely, especially, particularly, pretty, rather, quite, fairly, rather, not especially, not particularly.
Note: rather can be positive or negative, depending on the adjective or adverb that follows:
Positive: The teacher was rather nice.
Negative: The film was rather disappointing.
Note on inversion with negative adverbs
Normally the subject goes before the verb:
However, some negative adverbs can cause an inversion – the order is reversed and the verb goes before the subject:
- I have never seen such courage.
Never have I seen such courage.
- She rarely left the house.
Rarely did she leave the house.
Negative inversion is used in writing, not in speaking.
Other adverbs and adverbial expressions that can be used like this:
seldom, scarcely, hardly, not only …..
but also, no sooner …..
than, not until, under no circumstances.