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?

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 1
    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). Feb 9, 2014 at 15:36

Collins COBUILD English Usage:

Much and very much are used in front of comparatives, but are not usually used in front of other adjectives. However, you can use them in front of -ed words. ▲ Education is a much debated subject. ▲ She was very much attached to her husband.

You can use very much in front of afraid, alike, alive, and awake. ▲ I am very much afraid that she will end by marrying her cousin. ▲ Dolly and Molly were very much alike. ▲ The animal was not dead but very much alive. ▲ The children were very much awake.

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