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I have noticed that all the examples for "considerably" in Lexico (which is based on the OED, I believe?) are comparatives:

considerably [adverb]:

By a notably large amount or to a notably large extent; greatly.

  • things have improved considerably over the last few years
  • a considerably higher density
  • In truth, much of her verse is as light as souffle but has considerably more substance.
  • The obvious answer is that the state has got considerably larger under Labour.
  • Getting legislation through the Senate in particular will be considerably easier.
  • Most things got a little more than the starting price, some considerably more.
  • He would be interesting to talk to because he knows considerably more about it than me.

What are the rules, if any, for using "considerably" in front of non-comparatives, for example "considerably popular"? This sounds strange, to me.

Is there perhaps a British English vs. American English difference?

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    Hello, Matt. I assume you add the assumed Lexico-OED connection to imply rigour and comprehensiveness in your (fine) research, but while Lexico is very good, it is an entirely different publication from OED, certainly not a subset, and nowhere near as comprehensive. But good question. I'd just point out before trying to find an answer that the first of Lexico's example sentences uses 'considerably' as the prototypical (verb-modifying) adverb while all the rest use the modifier-of- ([comparative] adjective or quantifier) usage. May 23 at 10:41
  • Thank you, Edwin. I thought Lexico was somehow connected to OED, so thanks for this revelation. And yes, the first example does function as you say, but the others are what are giving me trouble. An article of mine was corrected to this (to me) strange-sounding usage, and now I'm not sure what to think.
    – Matt S.
    May 23 at 11:19

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Wiktionary, while not proscribing the use of considerably with a positive (not comparative ...) adjective, hardly implies that such a use is normal:

considerably [adverb] Positive: considerably // Comparative: none // Superlative: none

You use considerably when you want to make a comparative adjective stronger.

  • Sharks are considerably faster swimmers than humans.

OALD and Macmillan are even more reticent, but at least they list 'considerably' as a headword in its own right.

..............................

With many short, 'everyday' adjectives, the modification can sound atrocious (though 'very' often works fine):

  • *considerably mad / green / angry / slim / silly / sad ...

That said, especially with longer adjectives ('clear' is an interloper), examples can be found on the internet and to my ears sound reasonably acceptable:

The following Google 2-grams show various more and less acceptable pairings:

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However, acceptable adjectives are quite rare. It is best to check for currency of a pairing, as some sound outlandish; Google ngrams and even raw Google searches for respectable-looking sentences will help in individual cases. Apart from more 'everyday' adjectives usually being unacceptable, and of course ungradeable (polar / extreme / dead ...) adjectives not being acceptable, I can't see any rules of thumb useful in predicting what will work.

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  • Thank you for the added information and insights, Edwin.
    – Matt S.
    May 23 at 11:57

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