This post will tackle a typical error for Englsh learners, the use of gradable and ungradable adjectives.
What is a gradable adjective?
A gradable adjective is an adjective that you can measure in terms of its degree. An excellent example would be ugly. You could say that my shirt is very ugly. Others might think it is quite ugly. But what we realise is how ugly it is can change.
What is an ungradable adjective?
An ungradable adjective is either present or absent. Examples can be dead or pregnant. You cannot be a bit dead or a little bit pregnant, you either are or you arent.
Ungradable adjectives are also known as extreme adjectives
What do you need to know about them?
To use adjectives effectively, you need to use them with intensifiers or adverbs, but not all of them can be used with very or quite for example. gradable adjectives are things that we can measure, they can be a bit, some or a lot of something, whereas non-gradable adjectives either are or they are not.
We use gradable adjectives with these intensifiers:
I am very tall.
I am really clever.
I am extremely fit.
I am quite strong.
I am fairly tired.
I am pretty ugly.
I am rather scared.
I am a bit sleepy.
I am a bit overwhelmed.
We use non-gradable adjectives with:
It is absolutely awful.
It is completely impossible.
You are totally wrong.
I am utterly miserable.
I am dreadfully mistaken.
Examples of gradable and non-gradable adjectives