Teacher: Sydorenko Olha Serhiivna 
Chernihiv Magnet School #1

Grammar: Gradable and non-gradable adjectives

Possible topics: Travel, clothes, food

Level: A2-B1+

Gradable and non-gradable adjectives

Gradable adjectives show that something can have different degrees.

Non-gradable (ungradable) adjectives describe qualities which are extreme and which cannot be more or less

When we use adverbs of degree to modify adjectives, we usually have to use different adverbs for gradable and non-gradable adjectives

adv +gradable adj

adv +non-gradable adj

a bit
a little



Amazing, ancient awful, boiling, brilliant, dead, delicious, enormous,

exhausted, fantastic, fascinating, freezing, frozen, gorgeous, great, helpless, horrible, huge, impossible, incredible, necessary, perfect, pointless, ridiculous, right, splendid, starving, stunning, terrible, tiny, unacceptable, unique wonderful, wrong

Ex. 1. Complete the table with non-gradable adjectives.

hot — boiling
difficult — impossible
Possible answers: 1. tiny 2. starving 3. brilliant/fantastic 4. splendid/stunning 5. ancient 6. freezing/frosen 7. exhausted 8. huge/enormous 9. horrible/ terrible  

Ex. 2. Write a mini-dialogue using a pair of adjectives, for example:

A: Was the test difficult?
B: Difficult! It was absolutely impossible [5, 50]!

Ex. 3. Choose the correct adjective from each group to complete the sentences.

  1. Lanny makes absolutely ……………..cakes. (tasty / delicious / nice)
  2. You don’t want to go to Egypt in the summer. It’s absolutely………… (boiling / hot / warm)
  3. No wonder she won the literature prize. Her first novel is absolutely ………. . (interesting / good / fascinating)
  4. When I told her I had crashed the car she was absolutely ………. . (annoyed / furious / angry)
  5. I’m enjoying my new job but I have an absolutely …………. workload. (huge / large / big)
  6. When will lunch be ready? I’m absolutely ………. . (hungry / starving / overeating) [7, 80]

Answers: 1. delicious 2. boiling 3. fascinating 4. furious 5. huge 6. starving

Ex. 4 Write a sentence to follow each statement bellow, using an adjective from the box with very or absolutely.

Awful,   big,   exhausted,   freezing,   hot,   impossible,   tasty,   tiny
  1. The baby was born at only 25 weeks.  She was absolutely tiny!
  2. It was snowing and we didn’t have our coats with us.
  3. We were out all day in the sun.
  4. She hadn’t slept all night.
  5. The train was very crowded and we couldn’t get a seat.
  6. The new house has got four bedrooms.
  7. This is a good place to eat burgers.
  8. I didn’t have any instructions, so I couldn’t make the model [2, 129].

Possible answers.
2. We were absolutely freezing.
3. It was very hot.
4. She was absolutely exhausted!
5. It was absolutely awful!
6. It was very big.
7. The burgers are very tasty here.
8. It was absolutely impossible.

Ex. 5. Underline the word or phrase which cannot complete the sentence.

  1. Jackie didn’t like the show so much, but I thought it was absolutely/ quite/ very perfect.
  2. You were completely / fairly / totally right about Laura – she is from Manchester.
  3. We’ve been absolutely / a little / quite busy at work, so I’m looking forward to a break.
  4. It’s completely / totally / very pointless trying to persuade Michael to lend you his new car.
  5. Anthony seems to be a little / really / utterly worried about the situation.
  6. Jackson’s shot from the halfway line was absolutely / quite / too incredible.
  7. If you think I’m going to help you after what you did, you are a bit / completely / quite wrong.
  8. In the end, the documents that the tax office sent us were completely / totally / very useless [6, 126].

1.very 2.fairly 3.a little 4.very
5.utterly 6.too 7.a bit 8.very

Ex. 6. Complete the conversations with the phrases in the box.

absolutely freezing really fantastic
absolutely exhausting absolutely packed
completely soaked really filthy
  1. A: Mum said the film was good.
    B: Yeah, the special effects were ……………………………………….
  2. A: Did you end up getting wet in all that rain?
    B: I didn’t have a jacket, so I got ………………………………………
  3. A: Your daily commute is over an hour, isn’t it? I bet that tiring.
    B: It’s ……………………………… but it’s only for a few months more.
  4. A: The water around the coast is supposed to be quite dirty.
    B: I wouldn’t swim in it – it looked …………………………….. to me.
  5. A: Jan was telling me that the hotel was quite crowded.
    B: You can say that again. It was ……………………………………. .
  6. A: I bet it was cold in New York over Christmas.
    B: It was ………………………….. I couldn’t feel my feet during the whole trip [7, 80].

1. really fantastic 2. completely soaked 3.absolutely exhausting
4. really filthy 5. absolutely packed 6. absolutely freezing

Ex. 7. Match the questions 1-6 to the responses a-f.

  1. What was the weather like in Greece? Was it hot?
  2. What was the weather like in Finland? Was it cold?
  3. What was Istanbul like? It’s quite a big city, isn’t it?
  4. What was the food like in Italy? Was it good?
  5. So what was your trip like? Was it good?
  6. How was the journey back? Did you get wet in that storm?

a. Great, really delicious. They really know how to eat.
b. We got absolutely soaked! I didn’t have an umbrella or anything.
c. Yeah, it was fantastic! We had a great time.
d. Yeah, It was boiling – over 40 degrees most days.
e. Yeah, It’s huge. The population’s around 12 million.
f. Yeah, it was freezing – around minus 10 most days.

Now match the comments in 7-12 to the responses g-l.

  1. You must be angry about them losing your luggage.
  2. You must be tired after such a long journey.
  3. You must be hungry after such a long journey.
  4. It’s supposed to be quite a dirty city, isn’t it?
  5. It’s supposed to be quite crowded, isn’t it?
  6. Tabriz is supposed to be quite an interesting city.
    g. Yes, it was really filthy! I couldn’t believe in it.
    h. Yeah, I am. I’m exhausted. I’m ready for bed.
    i. Yeah, it was. It was absolutely packed when we went!
    j. Yeah, it’s fascinating. It dates back over a thousand years.
    k. I am. I’m absolutely furious!
    l. I am. I’m starving. Have you got anything to eat?


1. d 2. f 3. e 4. a 5. c 6. b
7. k 8. h 9. l  10, g 11. i  12. j

You can use the audio to check the exercise.

Ex. 8. Try to remember responses a-f. Test each other in pairs.

Student A: Read out 1-6.
Student B: Say the responses. Then Change the role.

Student B: read out 7-12.
Student A: say the responses.

Ex. 9. Tell your partner as much as you can about any places you have been to that were: boiling / freezing / filthy / huge / fascinating / packed [3, 96]


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