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In this sentence:

The air force and navy were modernized but the army, very much the poor relation, was not.

The "very much" used here seems to be different from the "very much" of "thank you very much". I just don't understand! What is the part of speech of "very much in the first example? Is it an adverb, or what? Please explain...

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"Very much" is a double intensifier. When you say "thank you very much," you're saying that you not only have gratitude, you have quite a bit of gratitude, a lot more than the ordinary amount.

A poor relation is one who gets short-changed and ignored. Someone who is very much a poor relation is not only ignored, but ignored in more than the ordinary way. In your example sentence, the air force and the navy got a lot of money to make their forces up to date. But the army didn't get much budget at all.

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  • So do you mean the "very much" in each sentence above functions as a double intensifier? – Sally Aug 29 '15 at 9:15
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    Right. "Much" mean a great amount; "very much" is even more than that. – deadrat Aug 29 '15 at 9:33
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The air force and navy were modernized but the army, very much the poor relation, was not.
What is the part of speech of "very much ...? Is it an adverb,

It is an adverb. We can add an extra word to show why:

The air force and navy were modernized but the army, [being] very much the poor relation, was not.

'very much' modifies the deleted present participle 'being'.

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  • Oh thank you! But I want ask is it normal that there are always cases in English writing that some word is missing? In this case, it is being. Then is it because the writer has bad grammar? Or do we just add the word to better understand the sentence? – Sally Aug 29 '15 at 9:29
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    English does use deletions a lot. It is not always clear what the precise deletion is. I would say that it is not usually a matter of grammar - more one of style. I know that may not be a very precise explanation. Maybe it is worth a separate question; others may disagree with me! – chasly from UK Aug 29 '15 at 9:39

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