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Extreme adjectives

Let’s look at the following sentences and think about which ones sound right.

A. I’m very cold.

B. I’m very freezing.

C. I’m absolutely cold.

D. I’m absolutely freezing.

Hopefully you’ve realised that sentences A and D sound right, but do you know why? If not, read further.

Words such as cold and freezing are adjectives. In English many adjectives can be modified (made stronger or weaker) with words such as fairly, very and really. However ‘extreme’ adjectives (those that are on the end of the scale) are modified by words such as absolutely or completely.

What is an extreme adjective?

An extreme adjective is one that appears at the end of a scale. Imagine putting the following words into order starting with the coldest and moving to the hottest.

cold warm freezing hot cool boiling

If you did this, you would get a list as follows:







The words in green are at the end of the scale - these are 'extreme' whereas the words in pink are normal adjectives.

Here are some more examples of extreme adjectives:

He is completely exhausted.

This room is absolutely filthy.

This amaretti is absolutely delicious.


Where can I find more information about this?

Actually the technical name for this grammar topic is gradable and non-gradable adjectives but I prefer using the word ‘extreme’ as it seems easier to understand. If you look in a good grammar book, you should be able to find more exercises where you can practice using extreme adjectives.

You can also do some research on Skell on the words 'absolutely' and 'completely' to discover some more non-gradable adjectives.

And if you really want to use these words spontaneously and correctly, sign up for one of my lessons.

Where can I read more posts like these?

Simply head back to the first page of the blog and click on the heading grammar to read more posts like these. You can also sign up to my newsletter if you want regular tips on how to improve your English.

Where can I find the best amarettis?

The amarettis at Sahltimbocca near to Bucheggplatz are the best ones I've tasted in Zurich.


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