Adverbs of degree

Adverbs of degree tell us about the intensity or degree of an action, an adjective or another adverb. Adverbs of degree are usually placed before the adjective, adverb, or verb they are modifying, although there are some exceptions discussed below.

Adverb of degree Modifying Example
extremely adjective The water was extremely cold.
quite adjective The movie is quite interesting.
just verb He was just leaving.
almost verb She has almost finished.
very adverb She is running very fast.
too adverb You are walking too slowly.
enough adverb You are running fast enough.

Usage of "enough"

Enough can be used as both an adverb and as a determiner.

Enough as an adverb

Enough as an adverb meaning 'to the necessary degree' goes after the adjective or adverb that it is modifying, and not before it as other adverbs do. It can be used both in positive and negative sentences.

Examples
  • Is your coffee hot enough?
  • This box isn't big enough.
  • He didn't work hard enough.
  • I got here early enough.

Enough is often followed by "to" + the infinitive.

Examples
  • He didn't work hard enough to pass the exam.
  • Is your coffee hot enough to drink?
  • She's not old enough to get married.
  • I got here early enough to sign up.

Enough can also be followed by "for someone" or "for something".

Examples
  • The dress was big enough for me.
  • She's not experienced enough for this job.
  • Is the coffee hot enough for you?
  • He didn't work hard enough for a promotion.
Enough as a determiner

Enough as a determiner meaning 'as much/many as necessary' goes before the noun it modifies. It is used with countable nouns in the plural and with uncountable nouns.

Examples
  • We have enough bread.
  • You have enough children.
  • They don't have enough food.
  • I don't have enough apples.

Usage of "too"

"Too" is always an adverb, but it has two distinct meanings, each with its own usage patterns.

Too meaning "also"

Too as an adverb meaning "also" goes at the end of the phrase it modifies.

Examples
  • I would like to go swimming too, if you will let me come.
  • Can I go to the zoo too?
  • Is this gift for me too?
  • I'm not going to clean your room too!
Too meaning "excessively"

Too as an adverb meaning "excessively" goes before the adjective or adverb it modifies. It can be used in both affirmative and negative sentences.

Examples
  • This coffee is too hot.
  • He works too hard.
  • Isn't she too young?
  • I am not too short!

Too is often followed by "to" + the infinitive.

Examples
  • The coffee was too hot to drink.
  • You're too young to have grandchildren!
  • I am not too tired to go out tonight.
  • Don't you work too hard to have any free time?

Too can also be followed by "for someone" or "for something".

Examples
  • The coffee was too hot for me.
  • The dress was too small for her.
  • He's not too old for this job.
  • Sally's not too slow for our team.

Usage of "very"

Very goes before an adverb or adjective to make it stronger.

Examples
  • The girl was very beautiful.
  • The house is very expensive.
  • He worked very quickly.
  • She runs very fast.

If we want to make a negative form of an adjective or adverb, we can add "not" to the verb, we can use an adjective or adverb of opposite meaning, or we can use "not very" with the original adjective or adverb. The meanings of the phrases are not identical. Usually the phrase using "not very" is less direct, and thus more polite, than the other phrases.

Examples
Original phrase Opposite meaning with "not" Opposite meaning with "not very" Opposite meaning with an opposite word
The girl was beautiful. The girl was not beautiful. The girl was not very beautiful. The girl was ugly.
He worked quickly. He did not work quickly. He did not work very quickly. He worked slowly.
Difference in meaning between "very" and "too"

There is a big difference in meaning between "too" and "very". "Very" expresses a fact while "too" suggests there is a problem.

Examples
  • He speaks very quickly.
  • He speaks too quickly for me to understand.
  • It is very hot outside.
  • It is too hot outside to go for a walk.
Other adverbs used like "very"

Some common adverbs are used in the same way as "very" to heighten the degree of adjectives and adverbs.

Expressing very strong feelings Expressing strong feelings Expressing somewhat doubtful feelings
extremely, terribly, amazingly, wonderfully, insanely especially, particularly, uncommonly, unusually, remarkably, quite pretty, rather, fairly, not especially, not particularly
The movie was amazingly interesting. The movie was particularly interesting. The movie was fairly interesting.
She sang wonderfully well. She sang unusually well. She sang pretty well.
The lecture was terribly boring. The lecture was quite boring. The lecture was rather boring.

Inversion with negative adverbs

Normally the subject goes before the verb, however, some negative adverbs can cause an inversion when placed at the beginning of the clause. The order is reversed and the verb goes before the subject. This inversion is only used in writing, not in speaking.

Adverb Normal word order Inversion
Never I have never seen such courage. Never have I seen such courage.
Rarely She rarely left the house. Rarely did she leave the house.
Not only She did not only the cooking but the cleaning as well. Not only did she do the cooking, but the cleaning as well.
Scarcely I scarcely closed the door before he started talking. Scarcely did I close the door before he started talking.
Seldom We seldom cross the river after sunset. Seldom do we cross the river sunset.

 

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