For the complementary uses of much and very, see very.
very, much
1. The uses of very and much as intensifying adverbs are for the most part complementary. Very qualifies adjectives and adverbs (very large / very slowly), whereas much qualifies past participles that are used as adjectives (a much enlarged edition / They were much criticized). There is a grey area including words that are strictly speaking past participles but have come to be treated as full adjectives, notably words of feeling such as annoyed, pleased, tired, worried, etc., and words with a strong adjectival element such as sheltered (a very sheltered upbringing) and involved (He is very involved in charitable work). These are now more naturally qualified by very than by much. When the verb element is uppermost, much is preferred; we would for example speak of a much honoured dignitary rather than a very honoured one, and we would say that alternatives are not much differentiated in preference to not very differentiated. At the heart of this grey area lie words such as respected, in which the adjective and verb emphasis is infinitely variable: if we say a much respected politician we stress the process, whereas if we say a very respected politician we assess the effect.
2. It is worth adding that much can itself be qualified by very; consequently any of the words we have been reviewing that can be intensified by much can be more strongly intensified by very much (e.g. very much criticized / very much enlarged).
3. Some types of participial adjective are conventionally qualified by intensifying words other than much and very, e.g. injured (and similar words such as burnt, scarred, etc.) is qualified by badly or seriously, bungled by badly or severely, and outnumbered, outvoted, etc. by heavily.
4. In a recent development, very is used to qualify nouns that have assumed the role of adjectives: for example, a song might be called very sixties (characteristic of the 1960s), and a building might be called very art deco (built in that style).

Modern English usage. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

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