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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|
|bad||awful, terrible, horrible|
|big||huge, gigantic, giant|
|good||wonderful, fantastic, excellent|
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.
- My parents’ house isthe biggest house on the street.
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
- 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:
- 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)
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.