What are nouns? They are words that describe things. What are verbs? They are words that describe actions. What are adjectives? They are words that describe... Well, they describe things.
But did you know that they can come in two varieties called ‘extreme’ and ‘gradable’? What are the differences? Well, let’s have a look at gradable adjectives first. Remember in school you were given a mark between say, A-D? Students who got A’s were the smart ones and D students were... Well, they just didn’t try very hard, let’s just say. These are called grades. Look at this word now:
Gradable = Grade + able = able to be graded.
Often in English, you need to be able to pull apart new words and try to guess what they mean. It can often be done, as you can see by the word ‘gradable’. So when something is gradable, it can be measured from 0-100%, A-D, 1 star to 5 stars, etc... So let’s apply this principle to adjectives — let’s take the adjective ‘cold’.
A little bit cold
Do you see that I can go from 0-100% when it comes to the word ‘cold’? This is what makes gradable adjectives so useful and you should grade them as often as you can to give detailed information to your listener — remember, English is culturally a language that demands detail from the speaker. Here are some examples of gradable adjectives: hungry, tired, angry, bad, funny.
You already know plenty of these, what you maybe not doing is grading them to add more detail. Let’s move forward. What are extreme adjectives? Well, these are the type of adjectives that simply cannot be graded because they are already in the extreme. For example, the extreme adjective of ‘cold’ is ‘freezing’.
It’s slightly freezing. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Let’s try another.
It’s a little bit boiling (Extreme adjective of ‘hot’).
No, definitely doesn’t make sense because ‘boiling’ means that it’s already 110% hot, it cannot go any higher or lower. In our next article, we will delve further into the use of extreme adjectives, more examples of them and how they can be used more effectively. Meanwhile, practice those gradable adjectives by attaching grades onto them!
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