Adjectives are perpetually valuable to possess in your vocabulary as they’re used to describe nouns and verbs, and can generally add a lot of exceptional sense and meaning to what you are saying! But how do you explain something that has varying levels of class you are describing? That’s when gradable adjectives get in.

Adjectives explain various features of nouns. Some of these qualities can vary in severity or grade. An adjective is graded or adjusted by putting a modifier in front of them. Gradable adjectives are those adjectives that can be modified in this way why non-gradable are those adjectives that cannot be changed. That is the essential distinction between non-gradable and gradable adjectives.



What Is A Gradable Adjective?

A gradable adjective is normal adjectives that might have levels of contrast in them. These adjectives can be modified. For instance; the adjective ‘cold’ is gradable – you can be extremely cold, quite cold, and even not at all cold.

By combining the adjective with adverbs like ‘quite,’ ‘extremely’ and ‘not at all,’ you can tell the degree of the adjective being employed. Below are some adverbs that can be utilized to modify gradable adjectives. They are recognized as grading adverbs. Extremely, a little, very, a bit, hugely, dreadfully, fairly, immensely, intensely, reasonably, rather, slightly, unusually.

  1. Gradable adjectives – slow, important, valuable, slow, vigorous, etc. can be made stronger using incredibly, extremely, most, rather, terribly, pretty (informal), very, dead(informal):
  • It’s pretty apparent that the man is not interested.
  • The conversation was most impressive.
  • Mary is quite beautiful.
  • The man owns a fairly fancy car.
  • It’s a little snow in here.
  • The lady is extremely fat.
  • Their organization is rather big.
  • She thought he was rather kind.
  • The performance was dead ethic!
  1. Gradable adjectives can be made weaker using a (little) bit, fairly, quite (fairly), relatively, slightly, somewhat:
  • He’s quite rich, but not a millionaire.
  • We were somewhat disappointed with the service.
  • It’s extremely cold
  • The hotel was relatively/fairly cheap.

What Is A Non-Gradable Adjective?

A non-gradable adjective is an adjective that cannot be modified by adverbs. They express qualities that are entirely present or wholly absent. They can’t be used with superlative and comparative forms. Examples of non-gradable adjectives include dead, nuclear, impossible, electronic, western, southern, boiling, freezing, etc.

  • “The water is freezing.” It can’t be “very freezing.” or “a bit freezing.”

Another type is absolute adjectives – these describe a situation or state that cannot be changed.

  • “The man is dead.” The man can’t be “a little bit dead.”

Other non-gradable adjectives are those that describe things into specific types or groups.

  • “The salary was paid out monthly.” The salary can’t be paid out “very monthly.”
  • The use of electronic devices is banned.

Non-gradable adjectives are often used with non-grading adverbs, i.e., completely and absolutely to emphasize the quality. Two common ones are ‘completely’ or ‘absolutely.’

For example:

  • The water is completely frozen over.
  • It is absolutely improper.
  • Some adjectives can be used as both non-gradable and gradable adjectives. For instance,
  • His grandmother is very old.
  • This is his old girlfriend.
  • They united to defeat their common enemy.
  • This pattern is rather common.

Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.

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