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