Why is it OK to say This house is very big but not This house is very enormous?
Well, there are two types of adjectives – gradable and non-gradable.
Gradable adjectives refer to qualities that have different degrees. For example, big, cold, tasty, tall, boring and pretty are all gradable adjectives because something can be a bit / rather / slightly / extremely big etc.
Non-gradable adjectives describe qualities of extreme or absolute nature. As enormous already means ‘very big’, why would you use another very to emphasise it?
Now, with gradable adjectives we use grading adverbs such as a bit, slightly, hugely, extremely and very.
I’m a bit tired.
This film is hugely popular.
It’s extremely cold in Antarctica.
She’s very angry.
With non-gradable adjectives we use non-grading adverbs such as absolutely, completely, perfectly, simply, almost and mainly.
I’m completely exhausted.
His plan is simply unthinkable.
It’s absolutely freezing today!
She was absolutely furious.
Now, there’s one particular phrase which is perfectly grammatical but annoys me a lot when I hear people say it. It’s very beautiful. The problem here is, I guess, a simultaneous use of two extremely overused words. With so many synonyms and near-synonyms available, it’s really easy to add variety to your speech. Please pick and choose!
In English, there are quite a few pairs of adjectives one of
which ends in -ed and the other in -ing, for example, excited/exciting, bored /boring, inspired/inspiring.
The adjectives in each pair are very different in meaning, and yet, as they
look so similar, English learners often find them confusing. If you too find it
difficult to use them correctly, then read on.