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Learn about Gradable/Ungradable (Weak/Strong) Adjectives

gradable adjectives

Gradable/Ungradable Adjectives

Tom is very cold.

Sarah is absolutely freezing.

Cold is a "weak" or "gradable" adjective. It could be 5°, 10°, or more or less than this. We use it with words like:

slightly cold, a bit cold, very cold, extremely cold

Freezing is a "strong" or "ungradable" adjective - it is very, very cold! It can't be a bit freezing, so we use it with words which mean "the most".

absolutely freezing, completely freezing, utterly freezing

If you aren't sure whether an adjective is strong or weak, you can use "really" - it works with all adjectives.


Similar to very: slightly, a bit, a little, extremely, terribly, incredibly.

Similar to absolutely: completely, utterly, totally.

Strong/Weak adjectives: Advanced Points

Terrible means very bad. But terribly just means very - for example, "it was terribly interesting". We often use it with a negative sentence: "It wasn't terribly good." (meaning "it wasn't very good")

Quite means different things with strong and weak adjectives.

It was quite funny. (quite + weak adj = slightly).

It was quite hilarious. (quite + strong adj = absolutely).

Gradable adjectives exercises

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