Gradable or non gradable,that is the question

Adjectives can be either gradable or non-gradable

Gradable adjectives are adjectives like ‘cold’ ‘hot’ and ‘frightened’. You can be very cold or a bit cold. Gradable adjectives show that something can have different degrees.

Non-gradable adjectives are adjectives like ‘married’ or ‘wooden’. You can’t be very married or a bit married. Non-gradable adjectives do not have different degrees.

Adjectives like ‘terrifying’, ‘freezing’ ‘amazing’ are also non-gradable adjectives. They already contain the idea of ‘very’ in their definitions – ‘freezing’ means ‘very cold’ etc.

When we use adverbs of degree to modify adjectives we usually have to use different adverbs for gradable and non-gradable adjectives.

  • NOT I’m completely hot.
  • NOT It was very fantastic!

With gradable adjectives The adverbs a bit, very, really, extremely and quite can all be used with gradable adjectives.

  • I’m extremely tired. I’m going to bed.

With non-gradable adjectives The adverbs absolutely and completely can be used with non-gradable adjectives

  • It’s absolutely freezing in here. Shall I turn the fire on?

Check this great interactive link to further practice

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