What's wrong with this...

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terry.echols

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Apr 9, 2008
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Hi:

Can anybody tell me the answer to...

Why can’t we say ‘the beach was very wonderful’?

What is wrong with it grammatically?

Thanks for the help,
Terry
 

naomimalan

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Joined
Feb 22, 2008
Member Type
English Teacher
Hi:

Can anybody tell me the answer to...

Why can’t we say ‘the beach was very wonderful’?

What is wrong with it grammatically?

Thanks for the help,
Terry

Because wonderful is what is called a strong adjective (some course books give it different names). The corresponding ordinary adjective would be nice. With ordinary adjectives you can use very but not with strong adjectives. With strong adjectives you can use adverbs like absolutely, simply...

I see you're stationed in Italy. Try it out in Italian, you'll see it probably works the same way. I don't think you can say molto meraviglioso but you can say assolutamente meraviglioso.

Try saying very with the strong adjectives below. You'll see it doesn't work.

Ordinary............. strong
bad.. .....................awful
ugly.................... hideous
tasty ...................delicious
 

banderas

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Ordinary............. strong
bad.. .....................awful
ugly.................... hideous
tasty ...................delicious
Yes, Naomimalan is absolutely right (not very right;-)).

Strong adjectives imply an absolute quality, so "very" sounds odd with them.
 

stuartnz

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Mar 16, 2008
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Try saying very with the strong adjectives below. You'll see it doesn't work.

Ordinary............. strong
bad.. .....................awful
ugly.................... hideous
tasty ...................delicious


It may just be a feature of NZ English, but in every example you list above, "very" would not be thought incorrect, unnatural or nonstandard here. "Very awful", "very hideous" and "very delicious" are not uncommon. The usage is similar to that found in the US Constitution with its call for "a more perfect union", which upsets some who say that a marker of degree like "more" can't be used with a superlative like "perfect". The use of "very" with "delicious" would be particularly unremarkable, and would be the most commonly heard of the three. "Very wonderful", though, does sound a little awkward, and I can't recall having read or heard it before now.
 
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