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Adverbs of Degree‏‎ in English Grammar

Pouring liquid into a weighing machine.Adverbs of degree (sometimes also referred to as adverbs of quantity) describe to what degree, level or extent something is done.

In other words, how much.

  • almost
  • nearly
  • quite
  • just
  • too
  • enough
  • hardly
  • scarcely
  • completely
  • very
  • extremely

Like all adverbs‏‎, we can use them to modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb.

In the majority of cases they come before the word/phrase they modify:

I am almost done!

She had had so much face lifting, we hardly recognized her when she walked into the room.

They know each other very well.

I am quite sure he can manage on his own.

Enough

The adverb of degree enough means to the necessary degree and it is placed after adjectives and adverbs.

Is your cocoa sweet enough?
You didn’t try hard enough.

When enough is placed before a noun however, it no longer functions as an adverb, but as a determiner meaning as much as it is necessary.

We don’t have enough money to refurbish our flat.
You have enough firewood to see you through the winter.

When used with adjectives enough can be followed by:

for somebody/something

The room is big enough for three people.
You are not qualified enough for this job.

to + infinitive

I’m old enough to vote.
Jany is crazy enough to jump out of a plane without parachute, if you asked her to.

Too

It is placed before adjectives and adverbs:

You are too kind with him.
I’ve eaten too much cake!

When used with adjectives too can be followed by:

for somebody/something

This car is too sporty for you.
The actress you recommended is too old for this role.

to + infinitive

You are too young to have children!
Their report was too long to be read out in the meeting.

Very & Not Very

The adverb of degree very is placed before an adjective or an adverb to intensify it.

That documentary on global warming was very interesting.
Kids learn languages very easily.

Not very can be used to give a negative connotation to an adjective or an adverb. This allows us to keep a positive outlook, which is often lacking when we use a word with the opposite meaning.

See which of these statements sounds more positive to you.

She was useless.
She was not very helpful.

I’m unhappy.
I’m not very happy.

James learns slowly.
James does not learn very quickly.

She did badly in her driving test.
She didn’t do very well in her driving test.

 

Very vs Too

Students learning English will often mistake these two and use them almost synonymously. You will often have to explain there is a major difference between them.

When we use very we make a statement and simply state a fact.

It is very good.
He speaks very quickly.

However, when we use too we are saying it is very with a problem attached.

you walk very quickly = you walk fast
you walk too quickly = you walk fast and I can’t keep up

it is very expensive = it costs a lot of money
it is too expensive = it costs so much money I can’t afford it

Image © Dvortygirl
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