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Adjectives describe qualities of nouns. Some qualities can vary in intensity or grade, for example: rather good, very good, good, better, the best

The adjective good is gradable.

Other qualities cannot vary in intensity or grade because they are:

  • extremes (for example: freezing)

  • absolutes (for example: dead)

  • classifying (for example: nuclear)

The adjectives furious, dead and pregnant are non-gradable.


  • have comparative and superlative forms: 

nice – nicer – the nicest

bad – worse- the worst

interesting – more interesting – the most interesting

other: deep, fat, high, important, popular, weak, warm, young, old, clever, smart,


  • can be used with "grading adverbs". Look at these examples:

Look at these example sentences:

I was very happy with my exam result.

My mum was unusually stressed.

This project is extremely important.



o   cannot be used with grading adverbs

o   do not normally have comparative and superlative forms


Gradable / Non-gradable Adjectives

Some adjectives may have more than one meaning or sense. It's possible for the same adjective to be gradable with one sense and non-gradable with another sense. For example:


Non-gradable adjectives

alive, awful, amazing,  black, boiling, certain, correct, dead, domestic, enormous, environmental, excellent, freezing, furious, gigantic, huge, immediately, impossible, minuscule, mortal, overjoyed, perfect, pregnant, principal, ridiculous, superb, terrible, terrified, unique, unknown, white, whole


Non-grading adverbs

Here are a few examples. There are many more. Remember that you cannot use all non-grading adverbs with all non-gradable adjectives. Some collocate (go together), some don't. 

  • absolutely, almost, completely, totally, entirely, exclusively, fully, largely, mainly, nearly, perfectly, practically, primarily, utterly, virtually

A table with adjectives and adverbs
Gradable and upgradable adjectives and adverbs


= quiet, but less than very

He is fairly tall.

We used to be fairly poor.

You need to treat everyone fairly.



1.     = docela – oslabuje význam (downtoner) následujícího příd. jm. nebo příslovce

It weakens the following adjective or adverb.

e.g. He is quite nice. Je docela hezký. The film was quite boring.

2.   = zcela/naprosto – zesiluje význam (intensifier)

It emphasizes the meaning.

e.g. This exercise is quite correct. Toto cvičení je zcela správně.


! You should be able to differentiate the meaning based on context, voice etc. as well as what adjective is after the word QUITE:

1. gradable adjective

2. non-gradable adjective

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