English Adverbs Of Degree – Add Interest To Your Adjectives

Do you always use “very” or “a little” with adjectives?

If you do, you’re missing an opportunity to speak more natural English. In fact, native speakers have a huge range of adverbs of degree – both informal and formal – to use in different situations.

Some of these can be used with lots of adjectives, while some are used only with certain adjectives.

Take a look at these common adverbs of degree and start using them for more natural, native speaker English.

Common Adverbs + Adjective Combinations

fairly = quite a lot, but not completely or extremely
“It’s fairly complicated.”
“This problem is fairly common.”

ish = fairly, quite. (Used in spoken English to answer a question.)
“Was the comedian funny?”
“Well, ish.”

slightly = a little
“He’s slightly older than her.

quite = fairly but not very
” It’s quite hot today.”

a little = not very much
“I’m a little worried about John.”

a bit = a little (often used with negative adjectives)
“They’re a bit badly-behaved.”

a little bit = a little + a bit = used to minimise the negative meaning
“He’s a little bit over-protective with his children.”

pretty = fairly (often used in spoken English)
“This type of reaction is pretty common.”
= very
“I felt pretty bad after eating there.”

rather = fairly (more formal than “pretty” or “fairly”)
“It’s rather late. We should go.”

reasonably = to a fairly high level
“I’m reasonably sure that this is the right road.”
(also reasonably well / good / accurate)

sort of / kind of = in some way
“He’s sort of related to me.”
“We’re kind of related.”

a tad = slightly (Informal English)
“I’m a tad tired. I think I’m going to go to bed.”

not at all / not especially / not so / not too (and none too) / not very = not very much (Use all these with a positive adjective)

“He’s not at all kind.”
“He’s not especially rich.”
“They’re not so well-connected.”
“He’s not too clever.” / “He’s none too bright.”
“That’s not very diplomatic.”

More Advanced Adverbs + Adjectives

fractionally = slightly
“It’s fractionally quicker if we go this way.”

marginally = by a very small amount
“She’s marginally better than him at Maths.

mildly = slightly
“Her attitude is mildly irritating.

moderately = to a certain amount
“Their company is moderately successful.”

modestly = to a small degree
“a modestly successful company”

remotely = slightly (use with a negative verb)
“I’m not remotely interested in your excuses!

Also not remotely connected / not remotely funny

somewhat = to some degree (quite formal)
“We’ve noticed you’ve been somewhat distracted.”

Also somewhat debatable / redundant / inconsistent / mystified / pointless

More Natural Adverb + Adjective Collocations

These particular collocations are worth learning as the adverb + adjective pairs are common and natural.

faintly = slightly

faintly absurd / faintly ridiculous / faintly amused / faintly visible

partly = in part

partly true / right / responsible / dependent / furnished / justified / related / successful

partially = not completely

partially clothed / partially sighted

vaguely = to a small degree

vaguely familiar / vaguely aware / vaguely similar / vaguely amusing

well-nigh / nigh on = almost completely

well-nigh impossible / nigh on impossible

Speak English More Naturally

A quick way to speak English more naturally is to use common collocations like the adverb + adjective ones above.

In my fluency program Real English Conversations, I show you the most common collocations in 10 everyday situations.

Scroll down to “Class Curriculum” and click any of the free, preview lessons in Module 1 – “Spending Time With Friends”.