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Intensifying Modifiers and Adverbs

One way of expressing heightened emotion in speech is by using intensifying adverbs and modifiers. These are those ‘degree adverbs’ that help intensify the meaning of another word.

“She was happy.”
“She was very happy.”
“She was utterly happy.”
“He’s an absolute saint.”

If you look at it, these words have little meaning apart from their emotive force. Words such as terrific, tremendous, awfully, terribly, grand, fantastic are simply emphatic equivalents of good and nice.

“The weather was terrific.”
“It was a great performance.”

Notice that the words awfully and terribly can be used in a ‘good’ sense, but they can also be used in a ‘bad’ sense.

It depends on the word they modify:
“His finger hurts terribly, since he cut it with the meat knife.”
“The doctor was terribly kind to my son. I’m really grateful, you know?”

Apart from the degree adverbs’ and other ‘degree expressions’ which we are going to look at in more depth next time, there are certain adverbs like really and definitely, which have an emphatic effect:

“We really enjoyed ourselves.”
“He definitely impressed us.”
“It was truly a memorable occasion.”
“She literally finished all the apples in the fridge.”

Well, keep playing with words like this, practise building sentences with them and your oral English will improve shortly. You do need to say these words with emphasis though, otherwise the magic won’t happen.

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