Function Words

What are Qualifiers?

Qualifiers closely resemble adverbs but differ from them in having no exact lexical meanings.  They serve to define the relative validity or applicability of the word they modify.


The most common are:

A bit less least
A little mighty (colloq.) so
pretty more real (colloq)
quite most enough
rather too indeed
somewhat very


Many of these words have homophones in other parts of speech, with which they should not be confused (pretty (adj) = good looking; Too(adv) = also ;Mighty (adj) = great and powerful.)


However, they may usually be distinguished from these (and partially identified as qualifiers) by their different positioning in sentences.


They occur most frequently directly before adjectives (except enough and indeed, which follow).  The second most frequent distribution is before adverbs.  Rather and quite may also precede verbs in a few constructions.



He gave me a somewhat cautious answer.

He answered my question somewhat cautiously.


The explanation is quite simple.

He explained the matter quite simply.


The weather was too bad for a picnic.

I didn’t do too badly on the exam.


She was the most beautiful girl there.

She danced the most beautifully of anyone there.


It’s rather hot today, isn’t it?

He left rather suddenly.

I rather like him. (verb)


He wasn’t quick enough.

He didn’t act quickly enough.

He hasn’t flown enough yet. (verb)



Qualifiers with confusing homophones are:

a bit=somewhat I’m a bit tired today.
a little = somewhat I’m a little sleepy this morning.
pretty= quite, fair (ly) That’s a pretty good car.
too= more than enough, more than is desirable or convenient. It’s too cold to swim today.
real =colloq. For very She is a real good dancer.
mighty=colloq. For extremely That’s a mighty fine automobile you have.


You will find more about function words here see:

Function Words

Question words

March 21, 2015