I recently learned about strong adjectives and the fact that you shouldn't use "very" with them, because their definition already includes "very".

E.g., "thrilled" -- i.e., very happy, you can't say "very thrilled" according to the rule I described above. But for some reason this link https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/thrilled provides this example:

I’m not very thrilled about having to do it again.

So, is the Macmillan dictionary wrong then?

  • 1
    I find it unfortunate that learners are getting their information from people who say "you can't do that" when there's a very wide range of opinions on the matter. I don't see why "very delighted" is wrong or stylistically bad. It may be that people think these so called (strong adjectives) convey enough intensity so that they don't need to use "very", such as in "very embarrassing"/"humiliating". The way I see it, as humiliating is not a superlative, things can be more or less humiliating. I don't get the point.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


"Very thrilled" is fine. Google Ngrams shows that it has been used for about a century, and hardly any of that usage is due to "not very thrilled".

Cf some similar phrases which are used even more often, e.g. "very excited" and "very tired".

  • But why? Thrilled is a strong adjective. It's the same as saying "very exhausted" which is wrong, is it not? How do I know the strong adjectives that I can use "very" with?
    – Pavel
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 6:40
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    @JanusBahsJacquet what about this: myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/… there are some words here that I wouldn't use with very, such as "very boiling", or "very freezing", but are you saying that it's just a made up rule?
    – Pavel
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 7:16
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    @Pavel Those are absolute adjectives. If you use boiling/freezing to just mean ‘very hot/cold’, then you can use them with very; but obviously not when they refer to precise temperatures (the boiling point of water, 100°C at ground-level pressure; and the freezing point of water, 0°C at ground-level pressure). Then they express absolute values that cannot logically be graded. The temperature cannot be very 0°; it either is or isn’t 0°. That page is right, though, that with ‘strong adjectives’, absolutely is more common than very. Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 7:22
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    @RosieF be careful relying on google ngrams. Because I just looked up "very delighted" in there and it gave me results, but those are results from dictionaries/books that teach English and saying that "very delighted" is wrong. What if there are lots of books, saying that some phrase is wrong, you look that phrase up, get many results, misleading you into thinking: "Wow, this phrase is used a lot, then it's correct". lol
    – Pavel
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 7:40
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    I agree with Rosie F that this is a matter of style rather than the 'rule' to which the OP refers. I see nothing wrong with, say, I'm very thrilled to be here. But saying I'm very ravenous or I was very petrified or I got very drenched on my walk this morning somehow weakens the adjectives rather than intensifying them.
    – Shoe
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 8:49

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