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What are Extreme Adjectives?

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The comedian was __________! I laughed so hard I was almost crying.

 
 
 

The kitchen was __________ by the time she finished cleaning it.

 
 
 

These __________ ruins were built by the Mayans thousands of years ago.

 
 
 

In my evaluation, the teacher said I was a ___________ student and a joy to have in class.

 
 
 

My brother was ___________ when I broke his brand-new cell phone.

 
 
 

The first time I had to speak at a big conference, I was __________ – my hands were actually shaking!

 
 
 

This hearing aid is so _________ you can barely see it.

 
 
 

That dress is __________ – I can’t believe it’s considered “fashionable”!

 
 
 

My kids fell asleep on the car ride home from the zoo – they were __________ from running around all day.

 
 
 

I’m not really into politics, but I find science ___________.

 
 
 

Question 1 of 10

Adjectives are words that describe the qualities of something. Some adjectives in English are gradable – that means you can have different degrees or levels of that quality. For example, the weather can be a little cold, rather cold, very cold, or extremely cold.

Extreme adjectives or non-gradable adjectives are words that mean “extremely + adjective” – for example, “freezing” means “extremely cold.” The weather can’t be “a little bit freezing” or “very freezing” – because the word “freezing” itself automatically means “extremely cold.”

 

Regular & Extreme Adjectives List

Regular Adjective Extreme Adjective
angry furious
bad awful, terrible, horrible
big huge, gigantic, giant
clean spotless
cold freezing
crowded packed
dirty filthy
funny hilarious
good wonderful, fantastic, excellent
hot boiling
hungry starving
interesting fascinating
old ancient
pretty gorgeous
scary terrifying
small tiny
surprising astounding
tired exhausted
ugly hideous

Special Rules for Extreme Adjectives

1) No comparatives/superlatives.

With regular adjectives, we can use comparatives and superlatives to compare two or more things:

  • My house is
  • My neighbor’s house is bigger than mine.
    (comparative)
  • My parents’ house isthe biggest house on the street.
    (superlative)

With extreme adjectives, we don’t use comparatives and superlatives:

  • My parents’ house is
  • My parents’ house is more enormous / the most enormous.

2) Use different adverbs with extreme adjectives.

With regular adjectives, we can use these adverbs:

  • a little, a bit, slightly, fairly, rather
  • very, extremely, immensely, intensely, hugely

Examples:

  • I’mrather hungry. / I’m very hungry.
  • This room isa bit dirty. / This room is extremely dirty.
  • We’rea little tired. / We’re immensely tired.

With extreme adjectives, we CANNOT use these adverbs:

  • I’mrather starving. / I’m extremely starving.

However, there are other adverbs we can use to give additional emphasis to the extreme adjective:

  • absolutely
  • completely
  • utterly

Examples:

  • I’mabsolutely furious.
  • We’recompletely exhausted.
  • The movie wasutterly terrifying.

The words pretty and really can be used with both regular and extreme adjectives:

  • This room is prettydirty. (regular)
  • This room is prettyfilthy. (extreme)
  • The party is reallycrowded. (regular)
  • The party is reallypacked. (extreme)

Absolute Adjectives

Another type of extreme adjective is called an “absolute” adjective. 

These are words that are either “yes or no.” For example, dead – you can’t be “a little bit dead” or “very dead” – either YES, you are dead, or NO, you’re not dead.

 

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