2

I was looking through an English book and came across a rule that has confused me; I dont remember reading it anywhere before(but I am not that well read anyway);

Don't use these adverbs(a bit, a little, too) with these adjectives-good, nice, cheap, clean, new, comfortable.

I haven't been able to find something about this on the net. If anyone here can shed some light on it, that would be great!

edit: Name of the book is, 'English Result Pre intermediate student's book, Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald, Oxford University Press'. In a lesson on adverbs of degree, there is an exercise where students have to match Rules with examples: The above rule matches with 'They're a bit nice'. There is a cross next to this sentence suggesting that this is wrong usage.

12  Match the rules with the examples
Rules
        1  Put enough after the adjective.
        2  Put the adverbs of degree before the adjective
        3  Don’t use the 🤨 adverbs with 😀 adjectives:
    good   nice   cheap   clean   new   comfortable 

Examples
a  It’s very small  ✓
b  They’re a bit nice ✗
c   It’s big enough ✓

🤨 adverbs in the above exercise are - 'a bit, a little, too'

edit: this is the page in the book to give the context, maybe I have missed some detail enter image description here Couldn't get it right side up, sorry about that.

  • English Result Pre intermediate student's book, Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald, Oxford University Press. Its a lesson on adverbs of degree. There is an exercise where students have to match Rules with examples: The above rule matches with 'They're a bit nice'. There is a cross next to this sentence suggesting that this is wrong usage. – jiimms Aug 28 '18 at 17:33
  • @JasperLoy got it, Thanks, I have added the details. – jiimms Aug 28 '18 at 18:00
  • "A bit" and "a little " are not adverbs. I suggest you get a better book! – BillJ Aug 28 '18 at 18:20
  • 1
    Any book which demands that I no longer speak colloquial English is either too good for the likes of me or too nice for my way of speaking. Maybe the book is a bit cheap for my bookshelves and maybe I would not be too comfortable with it in my house. – Nigel J Aug 28 '18 at 18:31
  • @BillJ I thought nice being an adjective, a bit* is modifying it and hence adverb. 'They’re a bit nice.' – jiimms Aug 28 '18 at 18:39
1

There is a big difference between grammar and style. Grammar lends itself to rules (but bear in mind that the people who formulate such rules are fighting a losing battle with the changes in a living language) whereas style is a matter of opinion (but opinion can be informed by style guides, of which there are many not all in agreement with each other).

You will probably find that there are native speakers who agree with your book that those words should not be used together. That is purely style, not grammar. If you want to use them, go ahead: you will not for that reason sound like some ignorant foreigner if you do.

  • so what I understand from your answer is that its not a grammar rule, purely a matter of style. Thanks a lot for answering. I would be happy if I find this rule mentioned in some book or site, even if its old. – jiimms Aug 29 '18 at 1:04
-1

It's definitely more of a style than question of grammar. However, keep in mind there are some real reasons for not using those "adverbs" (I am not positive they are actual adverbs).

A state of being clean or new is one way or another. Either it is clean or dirty, new or used, and it's same with being pregnant or not pregnant. No one is a bit pregnant!

While 'cheap' is somewhat relative (someone who makes $40/hr. may think one thing cheap, and the person making $15/hr. may think it is expensive), let's remove that relativity and assume you and your friend/partner/mother/father/etc. have the same definition of cheap and expensive. While it's not technically wrong, it's acceptable in conversational English, but not really correct if one were writing a book or a paper (unless it's in the form of dialogue between characters).

Good, nice, and comfortable are less definitive (not as "black and white") as clean, new, or cheap, so they are more accepted in conversational and even written English. However, in a formal paper (essay, thesis, etc.) or a published book, it is not really stylistically accepted, because it is more colloquial English than "proper" (textbook) English -- however, again in a dialog between 2 characters, it is more acceptable.

  • One thing can’t be cleaner than another, or newer than another? – Scott Sep 3 '18 at 2:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.