intensifying adverbials:

advanced English grammar

 

Many of us struggle with intensifiers, or we just use the word ‘very’ for everything we want to emphasize. Here you will learn a huge number of new intensifiers as well as downtoners to use. Remember to sign up for your free first lesson to discuss any questions you might have with your favorite Fluentella teacher! 

 

 

First things first: what exactly are intensifying adverbials and why do we use them? Although you might think intensifiers are only used to give your statements strength, that is not always the case. They can also suggest a low degree (downtoning) or an approximate degree.  Do not get confused, the specific adverbial you choose to use will have a great effect on the meaning of your statement. Another thing to remember is that not all of them pair up with all adjectives. Collocations (words that usually go together) can be found at the bottom of this article. 

Keep in mind that intensifiers do not directly modify verbs at all. Instead, they modify: adjectives, other adverbs, prepositional phrases, determiners, and noun phrases.

Let’s try and break it down a little bit:

There are 3 different types of intensifiers in English. Let’s take a look at them below.

 

THE THREE MAIN TYPES OF INTENSIFIERS:

 

AMPLIFIERS:

THIS KIND OF INTENSIFIER CAN ALSO BE BROKEN DOWN INTO

MAXIMIZERS (100%):

EXAMPLE – THIS IS TOTALLY UNFAIR.

OTHER MAXIMIZERS: COMPLETELY, ABSOLUTELY, WHOLLY, ENTIRELY

OR

BOOSTERS (STRONG):

EXAMPLE – SKYDIVING IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

OTHER BOOSTERS: DEEPLY, SEVERELY, CONSIDERABLY, UTTERLY, EXCEPTIONALLY, INCREDIBLY, REMARKABLY, PARTICULARLY, BITTERLY, TERRIBLY, AWFULLY,  VERY, SO, REALLY, REDICULOUSLY, HIGHLY, DANGEROUSLY, SERIOUSLY, GENUINELY

*USED TO MAKE A STATEMENT MUCH STRONGER*

EMPHASIZERS:

EXAMPLE – MY MOM’S COOKIES ARE SIMPLY DELICIOUS.

OTHER EMPHASIZERS: PLAINLY, OBVIOUSLY, EVIDENTLY, PRETTY

*USED TO DRAW ATTENTION TO A STATEMENT*

DOWNTONERS:

COMPROMISERS: a small group which imply the speaker is not entirely certain

EXAMPLE – THAT IS MORE OR LESS THE CORRECT NUMBER.

OTHER COMPROMISERS: KIND OF, SORT OF, QUITE

WHEN USED TO COMPARE:

A BIT + COMPARATIVE ADJECTIVE

SOMEWHAT + COMPARATIVE ADJECTIVE

OR

APPROXIMATORS: suggest that it is close but not completely right

EXAMPLE – DINNER IS ABOUT DONE.

OTHER APPROXIMATORS: VIRTUALLY, ALMOST, PRETTY MUCH

OR

DIMINISHERS: reduce the strength of what is said and are the opposites of boosters

EXAMPLE – THE PICTURE IS SLIGHTLY CROOKED.

OTHER DIMINISHERS: MERELY, MILDLY

OR

MINIMISERS: the lowest end of a scale and are the opposites of maximisers

EXAMPLE – WHAT YOU DID IS NOT IN THE LEAST ACCEPTABLE.

OTHER APPROXIMATORS: BARELY, JUST, MARGINALLY, DEFINITELY NOT

*USED TO LESSON THE STRENGTH OF THE ITEM THEY MODIFY*

HOW TO USE THEM:

SOME INTENSIFIERS ARE USED WITH SPECIFIC ADJECTIVES. THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT IF THE ADJECTIVE IS BASIC, (EXAMPLE: EASY, BIG, GREEN, TALL, NICE, HEAVY) WE USE

VERY, SO, REALLY, EXTREMELY, INCREDIBLY, PRETTY

HOWEVER, IF THE ADJECTIVE IS MORE ADVANCED, (EXAMPLE: INTELLIGENT, MICROSCOPIC, GIGANTIC, WONDERFUL, DELECTABLE), WE USE

ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY, UTTERLY, QUITE, SIMPLY, SLIGHTLY

We do not normally use very with these adjectives. We do not say something is very enormous; or someone is very brilliant.

A FEW SPECIFIC COLLOCATIONS WITH INTENSIFIERS: (THERE ARE MANY MORE)

 

BITTERLY:

IT IS BITTERLY COLD TODAY.

SHE IS BITTERLY DISAPPOINTED BY YOUR ACTIONS.

I AM BITTERLY SORRY FOR MY MISTAKES.

DEEPLY:

I AM DEEPLY APPRECIATIVE OF WHAT YOU DID FOR ME.

SHE IS DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED BY YOUR ACTIONS.

MY MOM IS DEEPLY OFFENDED BY YOUR LANGUAGE.

HIGHLY:

IT IS HIGHLY UNLIKELY TO SNOW HERE.

THIS BABYSITTER COMES HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

I THINK THIS PRODUCT WILL BE HIGHLY PROFITABLE NEXT YEAR.

REDICULOUSLY:

SHE HAD TO WAKE UP REDICULOUSLY EARLY THIS MORNING.

THE PERFUME I’M WEARING NOW WAS REDICULOUSLY CHEAP.

MY FINAL EXAM WAS REDICULOUSLY EASY.

EXTREMELY:

I FIND IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO GET ALONG WITH HIM.

SHE’S EXTREMELY GRATEFUL FOR THE GIFT.

SWIMMING IN SHARK-INVESTED WATER IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

DANGEROUSLY:

MY COUSIN IS DANGEROUSLY ILL RIGHT NOW.

TODAY IS DANGEROUSLY COLD SO PUT ON YOUR SCARF AND GLOVES.

THE CHILD RAN DOWN THE STAIRS DANGEROUSLY FAST.

COMPLETELY:

THE HOUSE WAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED AFTER THE STORM.

YOU ARE BEING COMPLETELY ABSURD RIGHT NOW.

ON VALENTINES DAY, MANY PEOPLE FEEL COMPLETELY ALONE.

ABSOLUTELY:

THE FOOD WAS ABSOLUTELY AWFUL.

ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN?

YOU LOOK ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.

AWFULLY:

I’M FEELING AWFULLY TIRED.

MY BEDROOM IS AWFULLY BIG. SHOULD I BUY SOME MORE FURNITURE?

YOU LOOK AWFULLY FAMILIAR. HAVE WE MET BEFORE?

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