I notice that it is rubbish means it is bad, but can we say it is completely rubbish meaning it is completely bad in everyday English? Do native speakers of English say that, other than the obviously correct it is complete rubbish?
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In this instance, it's the noun "rubbish" being used as an adjectival metaphor, so the construction would be adv. + adj.
However, I think the phrase in British English is "complete rubbish", no? But you are correct, it is an idiomatic expression for "bad", which is an adjectival, not a noun. In that instance, you'd be using "complete rubbish" as adj. + noun, as a metaphorical adjective.
"Completely rubbish" would probably be most often used to refer to actual piles of rubbish, wherein nothing of value can be found.
I am a native speaker who says both 'completely rubbish' and 'complete rubbish'. I suspect I use them interchangeable as in 'This is complete(ly) rubbish', but I think kiamlaluno hints at the distinction.
The first example has rubbish as an adjective and completely as an adverb, the second has rubbish as a noun and complete as an adjective. However,
all sound okay to me. 'This book is completely rubbish' sounds odder, but, like I said, I suspect I say it. 'complete rubbish' really doesn't seem to be used in the US, as sometimes people simply don't understand me when I say it.
Rubbish is also a verb meaning "criticize severely and reject as worthless," and an adjective meaning "very bad; worthless or useless"; in both the cases, an adverb can be used with rubbish.
"It is completely rubbish" means "it completely is rubbish". In here, completely is used to modify the verb is.
Rubbish in both British and US English can be used as a noun in a metaphorical sense. Rubbish is stuff that you throw away (like "trash"), so saying something is "rubbish" is saying that it is worthless to the point where it should be thrown out.
However, in British English they take the extra step of making "rubbish" an adjective (a word that can be used to modify other nouns). In fact, this may well be the more common usage of it there. Thus "rubbish" can be used in some sentences in British English where it would make no sense in US English.
The phrase you gave is a good illustration of this. In the USA sense, "rubbish" is a noun, so it requires an adjective to modify it, like so:
Wheras in British English "rubbish" is preferred as an adjective, so it requires an adverb to modify it, not and adjective. So a Brit would instead say:
So the answer is that completely is good usage in British English, but not in USA English.
protected by RegDwigнt♦ Apr 20 '12 at 19:13
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