Adverbs of Intensity: A Complete Guide

by Anne B. Robinson

Imagine coming home from a long day at work. You change your clothes, fix you some grub, and then you retire to your bed. “Man, I’m extremely exhausted,” you tell yourself. The word “extremely” is an adverb of intensity.

Adverbs of intensity are mainly used to emphasize the significance of a phrase. The adverbs transmit the message precisely as intended.

Let’s take a closer look at adverbs of intensity and how they affect the sentences.

What Are Adverbs of Intensity?

Adverbs of intensity, also known as adverbs of degree, function as modifiers for adjectives and other adverbs.

The adverbs are usually before the adjective, adverb, or verb they’re modifying. They can either strengthen or weaken the meaning.

Some of the common adverbs of intensity include almost, absolutely, and really.

Intensifying and Weakening the Meaning

Adverbs of intensity can either intensify or weaken the meaning of a sentence. Each has its own set of words that, when used together, convey the degree of intensity.

Intensifying the Meaning

When communicating, you may want to state the extent to which something affects you. You may need to modify some statements in order to send the message adequately.

For example, you may say you’re hungry. Hunger has different degrees. Some terms will give a better idea of how hungry you are. You could be slightly hungry, somewhat hungry, or extremely hungry.

Adverbs that emphasize the meaning consist of words such as very, totally, completely, and absolutely. For instance, I’m very confident that the dish is delicious.

Weakening the Meaning

You may wish to clarify your use of an adjective or adverb in more detail at times. For example, you might want to say that you’re quite hungry or a little warm.

That method is much more precise than simply stating that you’re quite hungry or warm.

These types of adverbs are all treated similarly. The adverb should be placed right before the adjective or adverb.

Adverbs that lessen the intensity of the meaning are words such as hardly, quite, slightly, and barley. For instance, I’m slightly confident that I did well on the test.

How to Use Adverbs of Intensity

The usage of these terms is to state the intensity of a word that precedes the verb, adjective, or adverb. However, a small percentage of these terms deviate from the standard.

There are four forms for the sentence:

1. Adverbs That Come Before Verbs, Adjectives, or Adverbs

  • The teacher was extremely young
  • The cat is too big

2. Adverbs That Follow Verbs, Adjectives, or Adverbs

  • The pet couldn’t drink enough
  • The cake isn’t soft enough

3. To + Infinitive + the Adverb “Enough”

  • She couldn’t bake enough to join the bake sale
  • The ball wouldn’t be hard enough to throw

4. Negative Adverbs and Inversions

Usually, the subject comes before the verb. Nevertheless, some negative adverbs might induce an inversion.

The inversion happens when you put the negative adverb at the start of the clause. The verb comes before the subject, and the arrangement of the sentence is inverted. This inversion is exclusively used in text and never used in verbal conversation.

Let’s see an example for the inversion. Say I want to express that my friend rarely cleaned the house, the inversion of this sentence would be:

  • Rarely did my friend clean the house

There are several words that you can use to cause this inversion. Some of these include never, rarely, and nowhere.

Adverb of Intensity vs. Adverb of Frequency

The adverb of intensity expresses the degree of something. An example is when you hit your toe on the side of a table. What you’ll probably say is, my toe hurts really bad.

Adverbs of frequency, however, are about time. Adverbs of frequency express how frequently things happen. For instance, how often something has occurred during a given timeframe. These adverbs convey durations in definite or indefinite forms.

A good example of definite adverbs is using words such as yearly or weekly. An adverb that doesn’t provide a certain time range indicates the indefinite frequency.

An example is the word ‘sometimes.’ Adverbs of frequency frequently use the present simple tense to describe recurrent actions.

Another example of an adverb of frequency is: the man goes to the store daily. ‘Daily’ is the adverb of frequency in that sentence.

Some of the adverbs of frequency words include daily, constantly, frequently, and later.

List of Adverbs of Intensity

There are various words used to highlight the intensity of a sentence’s meaning. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Absolutely
  • Badly
  • Barely
  • Completely
  • Deeply
  • Extremely
  • Hardly
  • Really
  • Almost

Common Examples

  • This restaurant is absolutely stunning
  • I want to win this competition badly
  • The roof is barely holding on
  • I completely forgot about the deadline
  • He was deeply saddened by the news
  • She was extremely talkative during the party
  • She hardly knew the answers to the test
  • The comedian was really funny
  • The runner almost made it to the finish line


Adverbs of intensity serve as modifiers for adjectives and other adverbs. Common examples include words like really, deeply, extremely, absolutely, badly, barely, and completely.

You should place these adverbs before the adjective, adverb, or verb they change. They have the ability to either strengthen or reduce the meaning.

These adverbs aid in conveying precisely the right words for communication. So, use adverbs of intensity to emphasize tension and add drama. Next thing you know, your writing will become a lot more intriguing and evoking.

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