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Expressing degree is usually done by using degree expressions which modify the meaning of a particular word in a sentence, or in a clause. Think of the aspect of ‘how’ about that particular word in the sentence: how... 'much', 'many', 'few', 'often', 'frequently', 'long', 'old/young', etc.
When you ask a question with how, you would usually ask:
- How? (for adjectives and adverbs):
- How much? (for verbs):
"How much do you know…?"
"How much does he want…?"
- How much of? (for nouns):
"How much of a businessman is he?"
"Not much of one."
- To what degree? / To what extent? (for verbs) :
"To what extent do you believe him?"
- How far? (applied to verbs):
"How far do you agree with me?"
"I agree with you absolutely."
We use these words to indicate degrees on a scale from minimum to maximum, be it size, darkness, wealth, etc. So, we have different positions on that scale and we use different scale words with
i) Indicating extreme position on the scale
“He’s very friendly.”
(b) much, a lot (informal) a great deal (formal):
“It hurts very much.”
ii) Intensifying the meaning slightly
(a) quite, rather, fairly; pretty (informal) ”It’s quite expensive. “He was rather annoyed.”
(b) considerably, rather; quite a lot (informal) “Prices have increased considerably.”
“I rather like him.”
iii) Toning down or decreasing the effect of the scale word
(a) a bit, a little, slightly (informal):
”It’s slightly uncomfortable.”
(b) a bit, a little slightly (informal):
“Prices have fallen slightly.”
“I know him a little.”
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