Can you say ‘very pleased’?

Some of us go through life unconcerned with grammar and usage issues, reasoning that if people understand what we say we must include all (or most of it). ) the necessary facilities. And then some of us carefully follow every grammar rule and rule we can, reasoning that if we all just focus on the matter and stick to the rules exactly then everything will be fine with the world. Then we came across an issue such as whether you should use this word or not very before word pleasure and you begin to realize how futile it is to expect that we will all always agree on what constitutes correct use of language.

Very pleased

Most people think that saying “very pleased”—a direct violation of the explicit instructions of 19th-century grammarian George Marsh—is fine.

Some of you may be shaking your head right now, wondering what’s wrong with saying “I’m very pleased,” while others are glad to finally have a dictionary ready to tackle the problem of foreign languages. this routine and show the children the proper way to use it very. Since it seems likely that the former will outnumber the latter, let’s settle the matter by saying that you are “very satisfied” with something.

In the mid-19th century, some grammarians suddenly decided that the word very has too much freedom and should be more limited in its use. George Marsh, in a collection of essays published in 1862, explains that the adverb very should be used to modify adjectives, and should not be used for participles (“a word that has the properties of both a verb and an adjective”). Therefore, in Marsh’s view, it is possible to write or say “I am happy”, but not to use “I am happy” because delighted is the past participle of the verb joyful. It makes sense, doesn’t it? You wish.

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Marsh went on to point out that it To be acceptable to use “very learned” and “very tired”; and while you can call someone a “disappointed man”, you cannot say “he is very disappointed”. This seems more confusing. The Oxford English Dictionaryaccording to their definition for the meaning of very where is is modifying past participles, including a short note: “The correctness of this usage, which has been common since the mid-17th century, depends on the degree to which the participle has been attained. a purely adjective meaning.”

Although this is not quite as simple as distinguishing between ARRIVE, alsoAnd twoat least we have a clear set of instructions to follow here: once a participle becomes an adjective, it can be modified by verybut until then it is very sensitive and must be protected from very by setting another modifier (such as much) before it. So how do we know when a participle has become an adjective?

Randolph Quirk A comprehensive grammar of the English language gives four criteria that must be met before a participle can graduate from a verb and be given an adjective status: it can be used attributively (“you can uncomfortable face”); in predictive use with look (“you seem quite annoyed with me”); it can be pre-modified by very (“Yes, I am very upset”); it can be used for comparison (“I would say I am more upset when you drop my goldfish”).

Some of us may not have the time or patience to silently go through the four Quirk criteria before deciding if we can use one. very or not. If you are such a person, you just need to bring a large amount much around you and take the trouble to add one between each very and possible participles you use. Or you can remember the wise words of HW Fowler, written in Modern English usage, “The process of participles becoming adjectives takes place gradually; Whether any particular person has crossed the barrier is usually a matter of opinion.

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(And in case you’re wondering, most people think “very satisfied” is fine.)

Categories: Usage Notes

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