You can say "very good" and "absolutely fantastic." Why can't you say "very fantastic" or "absolutely good?"
Some words in English are essentially very strong in meaning or indicate a category in which membership is absolute. For example, "perfect" is the extreme of "good," "freezing" is the extreme of "cold," and "hilarious" is the extreme of "funny." These extreme words are known as non-gradable, and words that can be modified in degree are known as gradable.
Absolutely and completely
Non-gradable words describing extremes or absolutely take "absolutely" or "completely." You cannot use "absolutely" or "completely" with words that are not extreme in meaning.
- They're completely dead.
They're very dead
- That's completely impossible.
That's very impossible.
The word quite is unusual in that it can be used for both gradable and non-gradable words.
- Today is quite cold/freezing.
- Your cooking is quite good/delicious.
- I was quite surprised/amazed.
Below is a table of pairs of gradable and non-gradable words:
Turn these plain sentences into stronger ones by changing the word in italics.