On this page, we will review and compare intensifiers and mitigators in English. As we have seen on the previous pages in this lesson, intensifiers increase the intensity of an adjective. For example, hungry can become very hungry, then absolutely starving.
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On the other side, there are also mitigators, which are used to reduce the intensity of the adjective. Here’s a list of mitigators used in English:
- pretty (note: this does not mean appearance)
- a bit (also ‘just a bit’ or ‘a little but’)
- a little
Here are some examples sentences using the mitigators:
- He was slightly annoyed that they had run out of his favourite snacks.
- John said he was rather tired so would probably have an early night (NOTE: ‘rather’ is becoming old fashioned)
- He was pretty happy with the result, but of course he had hoped to come first, not second.
- This homework is quite hard so I’m going to ask my friend to help.
- “What did you think of the film?” “It was quite good – I’d give it 7 out of 10”
- He’s a bit old to be going to nightclubs, isn’t he?
- Don’t worry about him – he’s just a little jealous because you got the best office.
So now our table from the previous lesson looks like this, with the strength of the adverb going from weakest (slightly interesting) through to the strongest (utterly fascinating).
|Basic adjective with mitigator||That’s a slightly interesting story.|
|Basic adjective with mitigator||That’s a fairly interesting story.|
|Basic adjective||That’s an interesting story.|
|Basic adjective with basic intensifier||That’s a very interesting story.|
|Basic adjective with 2 basic intensifiers||That’s a very, very interesting story.|
|Strong adjective||That’s a fascinating story.|
|Strong adjective with extreme intensifier||That’s an utterly fascinating story.|