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?”
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.”
“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”.