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Session 1

Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a well-known British fairy tale. Alice tells us the story and then we study some of the language. You'll meet a young girl and three bears and you'll hear which bowl of porridge is too hot, which bed is comfortable enough, and why Goldilocks is very scared!

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Activity 3

6 Minute Vocabulary

Strong adjectives

We've already heard how Goldilocks was terrified by the three bears. It was a fantastic story, wasn't it? And maybe you have stories that are just as amazing in your countries! These are strong adjectives and they might be difficult to learn. But they can make your English more interesting when you're speaking and writing. Listen to 6 Minute Vocabulary - Rob and Catherine will tell you all about them.

And here's a question: What two adjectives does Tom use to talk about a film at the cinema in this episode of 6 Minute Vocabulary?

Listen to the audio

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Rob
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I'm Rob, and this is Catherine.

Catherine
Hi! Today we've got a fantastic programme for you. It's all about strong adjectives.

Rob
Yes, it is. We'll give you a wonderful explanation of what they are and how to use them...

Catherine
We'll also give you some very useful advice on how to use intensifiers with adjectives...

Rob
And there'll be a fabulous quiz...

Catherine
And finally we'll give you an absolutely amazing tip to help you learn vocabulary.

Rob
Wow. OK, let's get going then, there's no time to waste. Here's Tom. Now, he took his girlfriend to the cinema and then for dinner afterwards. Very romantic! Let's hear how the evening went. While you're listening, try to answer this question: was it a successful evening out?

INSERT
Tom
We went to see that new film - I thought it was quite funny, but Jenny thought it was hilarious. We went for a meal: The food was not so bad but the service was absolutely terrible! We waited nearly an hour to get our food. When it finally arrived, I was absolutely starving!

Rob
So - the meal didn't go too well: Tom and Jenny had to wait a long time for their food - nearly an hour! What do you think about that Catherine?

Catherine
I wouldn't last that long. Twenty minutes, and I'd be gone.

Rob
Well, luckily, they liked the film. Listen to this clip:

INSERT 1 CLIP 1
I thought it was quite funny, but Jenny thought it was hilarious.

Catherine
Tom said he thought the film was quite funny. Quite funny. Now, when we use an ordinary adjective, like funny, we can add a word like quite, or very, or just a little bit, to give more information about the adjective.

Rob
So, we can say the film was quite funny, or very funny, or just a little bit funny. These words are called intensifiers - and they are quite useful.

Catherine
They're very useful actually. Yes. So Tom thought the film was funny; but Jenny thought it was hilarious. And the word hilarious means - very, very funny.

Rob
Hilarious is a special kind of adjective - it already includes the idea of very.

Catherine
Right, and we call this type of adjective a strong adjective, and there are lots of them. For example, to mean very good, we can say:

Rob
Wonderful! Fabulous! Amazing!

Catherine
Thank you Rob. Three fantastic words there. But most of the time, we don't use intensifiers like quite, or very, or just a little bit with these strong adjectives, and that's because the idea of very is already in the word. So for example, hilarious means very funny, so a little bit hilarious would mean a little bit very funny, and that doesn't make sense, does it Rob?

Rob
Absolutely not, no. OK, well back to the clip. Tom used a couple of other strong adjectives, too. Listen again. What's the strong adjective?

INSERT 1 CLIP 2
The food was not so bad but the service was absolutely terrible!

Catherine
Well, Tom used the ordinary adjective bad, and he used it with an intensifier when he said not so bad.

Rob
But the strong adjective was terrible. Terrible means very bad.

Catherine
And this time, Tom used an intensifier that we usually only use with strong adjectives - he said it was absolutely terrible. So, when we want to make a strong adjective even stronger, we need to use one of these special intensifiers, like absolutely. So, we say very bad, but we say absolutely terrible.

Rob
And we don't usually say absolutely bad. Here's Tom using another strong adjective. Listen carefully, and see if you can catch it!

INSERT 1 CLIP 3
We waited for nearly an hour to get our food. When it finally arrived, I was absolutely starving!

Catherine
Tom used the phrase absolutely starving. Starving is a strong adjective, which means very hungry, and he used the intensifier absolutely to make it even stronger. Absolutely starving.

IDENT
6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English.

Rob
And today our absolutely wonderful topic is strong adjectives and intensifiers.

Catherine
And now it's time for a very quick quiz. Question one. What is the strong adjective for funny?

Rob
And the answer is hilarious. Question two. What is the strong adjective and intensifier for very bad?

Catherine
And the answer is absolutely terrible. Just one more question! Can you name three strong adjectives that mean good?

Rob
And in the programme today we had fantastic, wonderful, fabulous and amazing, which describes me I think. And if you got all those right, you're absolutely wonderful.

Catherine
And we've just got time for that fantastic vocabulary tip we promised you. When you're learning adjectives, make a picture in your mind of someone or something that reminds you of that adjective. It will help you remember the word. For example, I think that Rob is absolutely fantastic.

Rob
You're just saying that Catherine, thank you very much.

Catherine
There's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again soon for more 6 Minute Vocabulary. Bye!

Rob
Bye!

So did you hear those adjectives? Tom said that the film was quite funny, but his girlfriend found it hilarious.

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You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary on our Unit 19 downloads page (size: 5.7MB) and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast version.

End of Session 1

So, you've heard the story of Goldilocks and learnt about how to use strong adjectives. Pretty soon your English will be fantastic, amazing and wonderful! Join us in Session 2 where we'll study the grammar of too, very and enough - but don't worry, it won't be too difficult!

Session Vocabulary

  • normal adjectives - Strong adjectives

    funny - hilarious 

    bad - terrible 

    good - wonderful, amazing, fantastic, fabulous

    intensifiers for normal adjectives

    very, quite, not so, just a little bit

    intensifier for strong adjectives

    absolutely