Have you ever wondered how you could describe and share your opinions more clearly? A great way to do so is by using intensifiers!
What are Intensifiers?
Intensifiers are one important tool in your vocabulary toolbox that should not be overlooked!
That movie was great.
That movie was really great!
Marcus is late.
Marcus is super late!
Intensifiers are modifiers in a sentence that add more emotion to the word they are modifying. They give emphasis and extra strength to your sentence. Intensifiers are effective at getting your point across in a clear way.
How Do I Use Intensifiers?
Intensifiers can be adverbs, adjectives, or adverbial phrases. We’ve learned that they strengthen the meaning of other expressions and show emphasis. Therefore, you would use them in instances where you’d like to emphasize an emotion in a phrase or a sentence.
Here are some more examples:
- Today’s lesson was interesting.
Today’s lesson was incredibly interesting!
- That handbag is expensive.
That handbag is very expensive.
- Today was a cold day.
Today was such a cold day.
What Are Some Other Popular Intensifiers in the U.S.?
One intensifier that is REALLY overused is: literally. If you watch videos on social media, you have probably heard this word. This is one good example of why knowing the correct meaning of a word is so important! Be sure to keep your dictionary handy, look up these intensifiers, and learn how to use them correctly in a sentence.
Here are some of the most common intensifiers in American English. They are used a lot in casual speech.
I have absolutely no desire to own a pet.
- at all
I don’t like artichokes at all.
Don’t worry about it, it’s completely okay.
This garage is extremely messy.
This book is really boring.
This coffee is super hot.
That’s a very pretty necklace.
He was totally embarrassed because he forgot his keys.
It was too windy to go outside.
He is so kind to me.
Some other intensifiers used in everyday American English are:
That sunset is amazingly beautiful.
You are being especially kind to me today.
That is an extraordinarily wonderful thing to do!
Margaret’s pizza is incredibly delicious!
Jim Carrey is an outrageously funny actor.
That is a phenomenally tall building.
The speech was rather important.
This glue is remarkably strong.
I’m terribly sorry to be late.
It’s unusually hot for April.
He felt utterly miserable while he was sick.
A Little Grammar Note
Notice that many of these intensifiers have the ending -ly. This is a word ending that means “like.” It can turn an adjective into an adverb. Adverbs are words that modify verbs, but they also modify other adjectives. For example,
That pizza is incredible.
That pizza is incredibly delicious!
In the first sentence, incredible is an adjective that modifies the noun pizza.
In the second sentence, incredibly is called an adverb, because it modifies the adjective delicious, which tells us what kind of pizza it was.
Many Intensifiers Mean the Same Thing
Many times, you can choose an intensifier that you like to use, and it will work in many different sentences. Let’s use a sentence from the list and change the intensifier.
That glue is remarkably strong.
That glue is incredibly strong.
That glue is amazingly strong.
That glue is unusually strong.
That glue is extremely strong.
That glue is very strong.
That glue is so strong.
That glue is really strong.
All these sentences tell you the same thing – that your glue is stronger than any other glue you have tried. The words might have somewhat different meanings, but as intensifiers, they all mean basically the same thing.
Some intensifiers, however, do have different meanings. Some work best in positive sentences, and some work best in negative sentences.
That sunset is amazingly beautiful.
That sunset isn’t beautiful at all.
With practice, you will become familiar with the different intensifiers.
Using Intensifiers in Writing
Most of the time, you should only use intensifiers when you are speaking. If you are writing formally, for business or in academic writing, it can be considered a lazy way to write. It’s better to choose a strong adjective when you are writing. For example:
That pie is really good.
This is pretty casual and not a good sentence for formal writing. Instead, choose a strong adjective and don’t use an intensifier.
That pie is delicious.
Delicious is a strong adjective that means really good. Here’s another example:
The meeting was very long.
The meeting was unending.
If you are writing, it’s better to use the strong adjective unending, without an intensifier. Intensifiers add emotion to your speaking, and it isn’t really necessary to add emotion to most formal writing.
Why Should I Use Intensifiers?
You can express yourself more clearly with intensifiers, and your speech will also sound more natural. Intensifiers are an important way to show emotion. They can also help you sound more fluent, even if you don’t feel like you are fluent at all! But be careful – intensifiers should not be used too much! Use a few of your favorite intensifiers here and there, just not in every sentence! Watch how your fluency totally blossoms!
Check out Gabby’s take on intensifiers, below!