As we all know by now, English is full of great ways to say things. It can be a very descriptive (colorful, detailed) language, and there are a lot of different ways you can say something. But how do you make things even more descriptive? How do you say something was bigger or badder or more? This is where intensifiers in English come into play.
Using intensifiers in English is how we make adjectives stronger and your sentences more descriptive. Here’s how you can do it:
There are a few different levels of intensifiers in English that you can use. Here are some of the basic ones:
Can you see the difference between these sentences?
- I am tired.
- I am very tired.
- I am extremely tired.
By placing the intensifiers very and extremely in front of the word tired, you’re changing the meaning of the sentence. Saying you are very tired means that you are more tired than usual, but you will probably perk up (have energy again) after a cup of coffee. Saying you are extremely tired, on the other hand, is essentially saying that you can barely (hardly, almost not) keep your eyes open.
The basic (simple) function of intensifiers in English is to make an adjective come across (seem, look, appear) stronger in a sentence. We want to add more meaning to it and make it known just how strong or intense something is.
Here are a few more examples:
- He told a very interesting story.
- He’s really cute.
- The children were quite naughty today.
- She’s incredibly intelligent.
- He’s an exceptionally good kid.
- There was an amazingly beautiful woman at the party.
The word enough can also be used as an intensifier in English, but instead of being used before an adjective, it is used after. In this case, enough is used to say how much or to what extent someone is able to do something.
- They are old enough to drive a car.
In this example, saying they are old enough indicates that they are at or beyond the legal age to drive.
Here are a few more examples:
- Am I smart enough?
- My shoes aren’t big enough.
- She’s tough enough.
Strong adjectives are what we use in English to replace short phrases like very big, very small, very bad, etc. They are essentially (in essence, basically, simply) more intense adjectives that we use to describe things without spending a lot of time or words on it. Some strong adjectives are:
When it comes to strong adjectives, you can use intensifiers in English with them as well. However, you normally cannot use very with these adjectives. Instead, we use intensifiers like really, exceptionally, completely, absolutely, totally, and particularly.
Here are some examples:
- I had an exceptionally awful day yesterday.
- Dinner was really wonderful.
- She’s completely perfect.
- It was totally disgusting.
- The mouse was really tiny.
- The Grand Canyon is absolutely breathtaking.
So, as long as you avoid the word very with strong adjectives, you should be good to go!
How about trying to put together some sentences with intensifiers in the comments below? We’re sure it will be really great!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and is extremely happy to help you with anything you need. Just let us know!