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A word or phrase that precedes an adjective or adverb, increasing or decreasing the quality signified by the word it modifies.

Here are the most common qualifiers in English (though some of these words have other functions as well): very, quite, rather, somewhat, more, most, less, least, too, so, just, enough, indeed, still, almost, fairly, really, pretty, even, a bit, a little, a (whole) lot, a good deal, a great deal, kind of, sort of.

See also:


From the Latin, "to attribute a quality to"

Examples and Observations:

  • "Traditional grammarians usually classified qualifiers as adverbs of degree, and at first glance, judging on the basis of meaning and function, this seems reasonable. Degree adverbs--like completely, absolutely, extremely, and excessively--can fit into the same position as the prototype, and they have similar meanings.

    "However, qualifiers are not true adverbs; they fail to fulfill several of the criteria for adverbs . . .. First, qualifiers do not modify verbs. . . . Second, with one or two exceptions, like really and fairly, qualifiers do not have adverb derivational suffixes. Third, qualifiers cannot be made comparative or superlative . . .. And fourth, qualifiers do not intensify."
    (Thomas P. Klammer and Muriel R. Schulz, Analyzing English Grammar. Allyn and Bacon, 1992)

  • "If people would dare to speak to one another unreservedly, there would be a good deal less sorrow in the world a hundred years hence."
    (Samuel Butler)

  • "Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly."
    (Rosalind Russell)

  • "Avoid the use of qualifiers.
    Rather, very, little, pretty--these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words. The constant use of the adjective little (except to indicate size) is particularly debilitating; we should all try to do a little better, we should all be very watchful of this rule, for it is a rather important one and we are pretty sure to violate it now and then."
    (William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, 3rd ed. Macmillan, 1979)

  • "It's pretty hard to be efficient without being obnoxious."
    (Elbert Hubbard)

  • "In fact, death seems to have been a rather late invention in evolution. One can go a long way in evolution before encountering an authentic corpse."
    (George Wald)
Pronunciation: KWAL-i-FY-er

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