English Intensifiers


This module covers a class of words (adverbs and adverbial phrases) that add emphasis to an expression, such as very, at all, completely, extremely, and absolutely.

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Intensifiers are adverbs or adverbial phrases that lend extra emphasis to or strengthen expressions. Intensifiers can only modify adjectives, adverbs and verbs. Some common intensifiers include: really, very, extremely and incredibly.

Other intensifiers are:

absolutely, amazingly, awfully, completely, dreadfully, exceptionally, fairly, insanely, particularly, pretty, quite, remarkably, terribly, totally, unusually, and utterly

Some intensifiers are only used with specific adjectives or adverbs. These include “highly,” “dangerously,” “seriously,” “critically” and “bitterly.” 


The car passed dangerously close to the cyclist.
Fred was critically ill for several weeks.
The hail seriously damaged my car.
This is a highlyunusual case.
Last winter was bitterly cold.

In addition, certain intensifiers are used for comparative forms of adjectives. These are:

-a fair bit
-a good/great deal
-a lot
-quite a lot


We are a good deal farther along than I first thought.
Sydney is a lot better than me at painting.
Thomas is much faster than Rodney.
They are a fair bit more experienced in marketing matters.
Air travel is quite a lot more expensive than road travel.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.