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Session 47

Welcome to English In A Minute. Give us a minute and we'll give you a hot tip about English. Grammar, vocabulary... there's so much to learn! And all taught by your favourite BBC Learning English staff!

Activity 1

Very vs really vs absolutely

Do you have a minute to spare to learn some English? Sam's very happy, really excited and absolutely thrilled to explain all about very, really and absolutely! Give us 60 seconds and we'll give you the English!

Watch the video and complete the activity

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Welcome to BBC Learning English. I'm Sam and today I'm happy.

In fact, I'm very happy. I'm really happy. Thrilled! I'm really thrilled! I'm absolutely thrilled!

My happiness keeps getting bigger and bigger.

I started with the word 'happy'. 'Happy' is a gradable adjective, so I can be happy – here. Quite happy – here. Very or really happy – here.

What's another way to say very or really happy? Thrilled!

Thrilled is not a gradable adjective. It's an extreme adjective. It's already up here. So, can we make it stronger? Yes! You can use really. I'm really thrilled. Or absolutely. I'm absolutely thrilled. But you can't use very.


Did you like that? Why not try these?

EIAM Teaser 6minvocab_li_19_strong_adjectives.jpg TGG_Teaser______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Very, really and absolutely

Very, really,
and absolutely are adverbs. They modify adjectives and other adverbs. They are usually placed before the adjective or adverb that they are modifying.

Gradable adjectives
Gradable adjectives
are describing words that can be modified to make their meaning more or less intense. Words such as: a little, quite, really, and very are able to modify this group of adjectives. Examples of gradable adjectives are: happy, good, hot, funny.

  • I'm very happy. 
  • The weather's been really hot lately.
  • The film wasn't good. It was only a little funny.

Non-gradable adjectives
Non-gradable adjectives
(also known as extreme or strong adjectives) cannot be used with words such as very. This is because they already contain the idea of very. The word thrilled means very happy. Because of this, when we wish to make a non-gradable adjective stronger, we need to use words such as 'really', 'utterly' or 'absolutely'. Finally, many gradable adjectives have non-gradable pairs: very happy - thrilled, very good - wonderful, very hot - boiling, very funny - hilarious.

  • I'm absolutely thrilled!
  • The weather's been boiling lately.
  • The film was absolutely wonderful. The dialogue was utterly hilarious!


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