Using Intensifiers (very, at all, really, so etc.)

Intensifiers are used to add emphasis or emotional expression to another modifier. They belong to the class of adverbs or adverbial phrases which are used to give more information about a verb, adjective, adverb, or phrase.

One of the most basic intensifiers is “very.” For example:

  • “That tie is very nice.
  • “It is very cold in here.”
  • “She can run very fast.”
  • “I think this soup is very much fun.”
  • “He was very angry when he heard the news.”

Another common intensifier is “at all,” which is generally used in negative expressions:

  • “I don’t like that tie at all.”
  • “She didn’t notice him at all.”

Other examples of intensifiers include:

absolutely amazingly
astoundingly dreadfully
completely colossally
especially exceptionally
excessively extremely
extraordinarily fantastically
frightfully fully
highly incredibly
literally mightily
moderately outrageously
quite radically
rather really
remarkably so
somewhat strikingly
supremely terribly
terrifically too
totally uncommonly
unusually utterly

We also use the phrase “on earth” and the word “ever” with wh-words as intensifiers. For example:

  • Why on earth would I do that?
  • What did I ever see in her?

 

Be careful!

Note that intensifiers differ from adverbs of frequency, which are used to give more precise information about the words being modified. Intensifiers, as the word implies, are mainly used to increase the intensity of another modifier. They also tend to be used in casual contexts only. In more formal or professional contexts, they are often discouraged and seen as needless padding.

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