Basic Intensifiers in English

Intensifiers are adverbs or adverbial phrases that strengthen the meaning of adjectives or whole expressions and show emphasis.

Some of the most commonly used intensifiers in English language include words like absolutely, completely, extremely, highly, rather, really, so, too, totally, utterly, very and at all.



She doesn't like ice cream at all.

At all is an intensifier used to strengthen the meaning of a negative expression.

Rule 1: We can use common intensifiers like very, really and extremely to make adjectives stronger. An intensifier is placed before an adjective it strengthens.



They are extremely engaged in the discussion.

Extremely is the intensifier used to make the adjective engaged stronger.

Rule 2: We do not use very with strong adjectives, such as huge (i.e., already very big) or brilliant (i.e., already very smart). With strong adjectives we can use intensifiers like absolutely, completely, totally, quite, utterly, etc.



This soup smells absolutely disgusting.

Disgusting (i.e., already very bad) is a strong adjective, so we cannot use very to modify it.

Rule 3: We use some intensifiers with particular adjectives, depending on their meaning. Generally, you need to use dictionary to find which nouns these intensifiers go with, but here are a few examples:

IntensifierAdjectives It Goes With
dangerously ill, hot
seriously hurt, damaged
highly successful, intelligent, likely / unlikely
bitterly disappointed, unhappy, cold

Rule 4: We use intensifiers much and far with comparative adjectives in front of a noun.



My sister is much older than me.

Older is a comparative adjective.

Rule 5: We use intensifiers easily and by far with superlative adjectives in front of a noun.



This dish is by far the most delicious one I've had this week.

The most delicious is a superlative adjective.



Choose the CORRECT intensifier. This movie was ___ bad.


correct answers.