Gradable Adjectives

Some people find this site by googling "Is xyz gradable?". Some others are looking for lists of gradable and ungradable adjectives. So I thought I'd try and make a table. This is not meant to be a complete list, but as people ask about other adjectives I'll try and add them to the list.

Testing for gradability

There are two tests to see whether an adjective is gradable or not:
  • Can we use very as an intensifier before it?
  • Can we make a comparative from it: x-er or more x?
Try doing these tests yourself with any adjective, but I realise that sometimes it is difficult for a non-native speaker to hear whether something sounds "right" or not.
The listings here are my own interpretations based on those two tests.


Colours - most colours are gradable, but black and white are usually seen as absolute.
Adjectives with suffixes 1 - it seems to me that most adjectives formed with the suffixes: -able, -ic, -ish, -like are gradable.
Adjectives with suffixes 2 - on the other hand most adjectives formed with the suffix: -less are ungradable.
Adjectives with suffixes 3 - some adjectives formed with the suffix: -ful are gradable, some are not.
(sl) = slang, an asterisk (*) means that a gradable adjective is sometimes used with absolutely as well as very.
Three lists appear when you select a letter:
  • Gradable adjectives - can be made into comparatives
  • Extreme adjectives - strong versions of gradable adjectives
  • Absolute adjectives - self-standing adjectives with no gradable equivalent
There are really too many absolute adjectives to list, so I've only put in some of the more obvious ones, and only those that can be used with intensfiers such as absolutely ot totally.
Select adjectives beginning with:
Your list will appear here

Related posts


Gradable and ungradable

Adjective lists

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