Introduction

We use adverbs of degree to describe the degree (extent or amount) of an adjective, adverb or verb.

We can use "not" to form a negative with some adverbs of degree.

Examples

Form - positive

We usually put the adverb of degree before the adjective, adverb or main verb (after auxiliary verbs), but in some cases it follows, as shown in the table:

meaning adverb of degree adjective adverb verb
an excessive degree too too long too loudly -
("I play football too" = "I play football as well")
the maximum degree completely completely different - completely finish
or
finish completely
a very large degree extremely extremely tiring extremely slowly -
a greater / lesser degree than all others most / least the most / least interesting the most / least carefully like (the) most
a greater / lesser degree than one or more others more / less more / less difficult more / less loudly read more / less
a large degree very very beautiful very well -
really really beautiful really well really enjoy
so so beautiful so well so enjoy
a moderate degree quite quite messy quite quietly quite like
a sufficient or expected degree enough hot enough quickly enough cook enough
a little less than the sufficient / expected degree almost almost ready almost as quickly almost complete
nearly nearly finished nearly as quickly nearly complete

Form - negative

If we use "not" with an adverb of degree, the negative meaning is for the adverb of degree and does not necessarily describe the opposite of the adjective, adverb or verb that it describes:
Form

With adjectives, we use "not" before the adverb of degree.

With adverbs and verbs, we use "not" in the negative form of the verb.

With verbs, we can put the adverb of degree before the main verb and after auxiliary verbs, or after the main verb (e.g. "She hasn't completely finished the meal." or "She hasn't finished the meal completely."):

meaning adverb of degree adjective adverb verb
an excessive degree too not too long not speak too loudly -
the maximum degree completely not completely different - not completely finish
or
not finish completely
a greater / lesser degree than all others most / least not the most / least interesting not the most / least carefully e.g. I like this one (the) most
a greater / lesser degree than all others most / least not the most / least interesting not the most / least carefully not like the most
a large degree very not very beautiful not paint very well -
really not really beautiful not paint really well not really enjoy
so so beautiful not paint so well -
a sufficient or expected degree enough not hot enough not quickly enough not cook enough

"not really" can also mean "not in reality":

Further practice

Complete the sentences with the correct answer from a, b, c or d:



Check my answers

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