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FCE practice ▼ Grammar ▼ Word formation ▼ Phrasal verbs ▼ Expressions ▼ Collocations

FCE (First Certificate)
Adverb + Adjective Collocations

Why don't we say "absolutely good" or "very fantastic"? Well, adjectives like "good" are known as weak or gradable adjectives, while adjectives like "fantastic" and "perfect" are known as strong and ungradable adjectives. "Very" is used with weak adjectives, and "absolutely" is used with strong / ungradable adjectives.

I'm very tired.

I'm absolutely exhausted.

very, extremely, incredibly, terribly, awfully, fairly, a bit
(+ quite, really)
+ weak (gradable) adjectives
absolutely, completely, totally, utterly
(+ quite, really)
+ strong / ungradable adjectives

Really can be used with most adjectives - it doesn't matter what type they are.

That's a really interesting/fascinating book.

Quite can also be used with both, but its meaning changes.

That book's quite interesting. ( = a bit)

That book's quite fascinating. ( = absolutely)

Be careful. If you make an adverb from a strong adjective (e.g. incredibly, amazingly), it is used with weak adjectives. For example:

This is awfully difficult.

He's amazingly good at cooking.

FCE Part 1: Multiple Choice Cloze

Choose the best word to complete the following sentences.

  1. I'm _____ sleepy. I'm going to bed.
    incredibly absolutely totally utterly
  2. It was _____ impossible to decide what to do.
    extremely absolutely incredibly rather
  3. I bought some ____ cheap shoes at the weekend.
    extremely absolutely utterly totally
  4. Sam's got a very ____ nose.
    enormous huge large massive
  5. I was ______ disappointed by the food in the new restaurant.
    utterly terribly completely totally
  6. The painting he bought was absolutely ______.
    expensive priceless valuable pricey
  7. Your children are ____ noisy! I wish they'd be quiet!
    utterly totally completely incredibly
  8. The meal Sarah cooked for us was absolutely _____.
    delicious tasty nice good
  9. Frank's girlfriend was wearing ____ short skirt.
    an utterly an awfully a quite a totally
  10. Don't ask Simon to help - he's _____ useless.
    completely very extremely awfully
  11. I was a bit ____ when I went to be after watching the horror film.
    terrified petrified scared horrified
  12. It's extremely ____ that we try to solve this problem quickly.
    crucial essential vital important


You can read more about strong/weak adjectives here and get more practice here.