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The following examples are clearly wrong:

× I am very much tired
× She is very much clever

But the following sounds fine (at least according to OALD):

I am very much afraid that ...
I am very much aware of ...

Worse, the following sounds awkward to me:

× I am very aware of ...

I wonder some sound ok while the others do not. Does it have to do with the type of adjectives being used? Or is there a subtle nuance between "very" and "very much"? Is "very much" the same as "extremely" (I would guess not, at least in the "afraid" example)? When should/can one use "very much", as opposed to "very"? Are there differences between spoken and written uses?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'd say "very much" isn't used with adjectives of characteristics/qualities that tend to be inherent or permanent (She's very intelligent.)

And we tend to use very much with other adjectives, especially if they go with a preposition. (I'm very much aware OF the fact that...)

Good question. I can imagine my students asking me this in the near future.

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Good question indeed. And I think the point about 'adjectival complements' (afraid that/of ...; aware of ...; ready for the encounter is relevant, though by no means a firm rule (very wrong of him to come; very eager for the holidays to come). The actual adjective seems to have a say in the matter, alongside other factors. I think this will need a doctoral thesis as an answer (and I'd bet even that wouldn't come up with firm rules). – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '14 at 15:36

If the sentence makes sense with a bit then i would guess that you would use very and if the sentence makes sense with extremely then i would guess than you would use very much.

I think that is you're not sure which one then it's really just a case of which one sounds best and what the sentence is about.

I'm not really sure of the reasoning to why some make sense when some don't though.

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