I know that we can use very + noun to indicate the precision, particularity.

Once I wrote this sentence:

I felt like I was with my very family.

My teacher said this sound very colloquial, not written language. I'm not a native speaker, so is my teacher. Please help me to judge this case!

  • What did you intend to mean by it? I don't think it is colloquial - just plain ungrammatical! Mar 11, 2016 at 4:57
  • 1
    "I felt like I was with my very own family" that is both grammatical and idiomatic in speech and in writing. You nearly got it right! See Merriam-Webster's dictionary entry: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/one's%20very%20own
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 11, 2016 at 9:07
  • @Mari-LouA that's awesome. This is exactly what I was trying to say.
    – Envil
    Mar 15, 2016 at 4:44
  • Glad to be of assistance :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 15, 2016 at 5:52
  • @Mari-LouA: or I could say, that's the very thing that I was trying to say ;).
    – Envil
    Mar 16, 2016 at 16:58

1 Answer 1


Well, to understand this, we must first understand the etymology of the very word very.

Very comes from Latin, veritas, which means 'truth.' In this example, it could be rewritten as

I felt like I was with my true family.


I felt like I was truly with my family.

It's not 'colloquial' per se, but it is probably used incorrectly a bit too often by those who wish to sound sophisticated. It should generally only be used this way in situations such as when you're on a topic, and someone brings up a seemingly unrelated example that is, in fact, related closely to the topic at hand. Then, you say

Ah! That's the very thing I was talking about!

The spirit of this usage should be the same as when you say "Exactly!!"

In some cases, it can also be used as an intensifier when you want to emphasize the scope or magnitude of the statement you're making. Example:

It was not only heard, but also felt - it shook the very ground he walked upon.

Notice that there is a point of serious emphasis in this example. In this case, it could be replaced (or further intensified) by using the phrase "in fact," either at the beginning of the sentence or after the hyphen.

When you actually learn its proper application, it becomes very clear that 'very' in this context is very much overused and misused.

  • If you want, you could edit and add the expression "one's very own" to your answer thereby making it very complete :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 11, 2016 at 9:13

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