Absolutely delicious Vs. Very delicious

sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
Hello teachers,

I remember once a British told me "Very delicious food" is correct.
He/she also said "more delicious than...." is correct too.

But I disagree with these two sentences. The word Delicious, is a non gradable adjective and contains Very in itself.
I mean: Delicious = Tasty + Very = so we must say: the food is absolutely delicious.

And non gradable adjectives shouldn't be used in comparative forms although it's sometimes used among native English speakers but in my opinion it's not standard English.

For example, the word "freezing" means very cold and it's not correct to say "very freezing" but "absolutely freezing"

Now, what's your opinion about the topic? Do you agree with me?
I searched the topic in forum and I found some threads but the threads were not focused on my question.
You even can't find "more delicious" or "very delicious" in any dictionary.
But you can find "absolutely delicious"

Many thanks in advance
 
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  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Your analysis is basically correct.
    For a paper dealing with this very topic, see http://www.paulsensei.com/for-english-teachers/publications/files/raine_delicious.pdf.

    Native speakers don't think about gradability when deciding whether to use very or absolutely; they rely on their intuition or 'feel'.
    I would not use very delicious myself and I don't think most other speakers would either.

    A similar problem occurs with the word unique, where very may be used more often than with delicious.
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I feel that "absolutely delicious" is a much more usual collocation that "very delicious". I don't know to what extent this is because of the gradability issue - it might just be a matter of what I usually hear.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You even can't find "more delicious" or "very delicious" in any dictionary.
    But you can find "absolutely delicious"
    There's no reason why any of these phrases should be in a dictionary. In any case, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
    I would be much more likely to say very delicious than absolutely delicious. I wouldn't say either of "very freezing" or "absolutely freezing".
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    I would be much more likely to say very delicious than absolutely delicious. I wouldn't say either of "very freezing" or "absolutely freezing".
    Standard English says it's non gradable, then why don't you follow it?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    What is this "Standard English" you refer to? I see both very and absolutely as emphatics that can be used to intensify the meaning of what follows. I can divide, for example, food dishes into those that are delicious and those that are not. In the former category, I doubt whether I would find them "equally delicious" so there would be degrees. I conclude that I may use delicious as "gradable"!
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    What is this "Standard English" you refer to? I see both very and absolutely as emphatics that can be used to intensify the meaning of what follows. I can divide, for example, food dishes into those that are delicious and those that are not. In the former category, I doubt whether I would find them "equally delicious" so there would be degrees. I conclude that I may use delicious as "gradable"!
    I think you disagree with me because you use "very delicious" in your daily conversation.
    It's incorrect to say "very delicious" although you use it. Some adjectives refer to qualities which are gradable – we can have more or less of them. For example, people can be more or less interesting or old; jobs can be more or less difficult. Other adjectives refer to non-gradable qualities – we do not say that things are more or less perfect, impossible or dead.
    Look at these pairs of gradable and non-gradable adjectives:
    angry / furious
    big / enormous
    important / essential
    hot / boiling
    cold / freezing
    tasty / delicious
    tired / exhausted
    happy / delighted

    Check this link: Source: is here
    Check this link as well: http://www.space4english.com/common_errors2.php?id=10&t=word
    Check this link too: http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Gradable_words_in_English

    In spite of these proofs I don't know why you don't accept that it's non gradable.:confused:
    Because you use it?:confused:
     
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    Dexta

    Senior Member
    English (British and Australian)
    non gradable adjectives shouldn't be used in comparative forms

    ?

    Everything Emily bakes is absolutely delicious but her latest creations (red velvet cupcakes with cointreau frosting) are the most delicious yet.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    No they shouldn't. Have look at this link: http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/adjectives-non-gradable.htm

    Everything Emily bakes is absolutely delicious but her latest creations (red velvet cupcakes with cointreau frosting) are the tastiest yet.

    Non-gradable adjectives do not normally have comparative and superlative forms:


    • freezing, more freezing, the most freezing
    • dead, deader, the deadest
    • unclear, more unclear, the most unclear
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I see that anonymous document you cite as part of someone's general description for teaching English and it is good guidance. If you follow it you will not be incorrect. However, it is not a universally accepted description of "correct" and "incorrect". As a brief description of the issue, it cannot cover all the usages. For example, another pair there, described as gradable/ungradable, is hot/boiling. Water obviously can be "quite hot" or "very hot" etc, but it can also be "boiling gently" or "boiling furiously" - although it is true we would not say "very boiling". So "boiling" is not "unmodifiable" and some people have their own scale for "delicious". English usage issues are often quite subtle and often don't submit neatly into "correct" and "incorrect":D
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Ok but almost 80 percent Native English speakers agreed with my analysis.:)
    I searched it a lot. I respect your answer too.
    Best wishes.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    • freezing, more freezing, the most freezing :tick:
    • dead, deader, the deadest :tick: for very literal meanings of "dead" - He had the deadest eyes that I have ever seen.
    • unclear, more unclear, the most unclear :cross:
    I am slightly unclear on why you are so very certain. ;)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Ok but almost 80 percent Native English speakers agreed with my analysis.:)
    I searched it a lot. I respect your answer too.
    Best wishes.
    You may find a most wonderful result when comparing "very delicious" with "most delicious" in the Ngramviewer - the frequncy of occurrence is quite high, although it has been dropping for both in the database of printed works in English. The Jane Austen advice may therefore be sound.:D This serves to illustrate that usage and "correctness" are both moving targets!
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You may find a most wonderful result when comparing "very delicious" with "most delicious" in the Ngramviewer - the frequency of occurrence is quite high, although it has been dropping for both in the database of printed works in English. The Jane Austen advice may therefore be sound.:D This serves to illustrate that usage and "correctness" are both moving targets!
    If you change the dates to 1970 - 2008, you'll see that the usages have actually been going up slowly since 1980. I also randomly added "Ibiza" (an island) to show that they are in fact being used.
    New graph with most delicious, more delicious, very delicious, quite delicious, and Ibiza
     
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    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    If you change the dates to 1970 - 2008, you'll see that the usages have actually been going up slowly since 1980. I also randomly added "Ibiza" (an island) to show that they are in fact being used.
    New graph with most delicious, more delicious, very delicious, quite delicious, and ibiza
    Hello Myridon,
    Would you please clarify it a little bit to me? I am not Native English that's what I couldn't understand what was your main goal of saying that.
    Many thanks in advance.
    This is a new graph too: http://corpus.byu.edu/bnc/?c=bnc&q=24787646
    Check my graph as well.:D
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Would you please clarify it a little bit to me? I am not Native English that's what I couldn't understand what was your main goal of saying that.
    The graph is relative. The numbers scale on the left are basically meaningless. By focusing on a smaller section (and one that includes more recent years), we can more clearly see recent trends. I also included a term which I know is used - there are whole books on the island of Ibiza - to show them in comparison to an unrelated term.
     
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    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I think the gradable/ungradable adjective advice is sound. If you follow that, nobody can ever say you aren't speaking good English.

    But... English speakers love to exaggerate. Hyperbole and over-the-top description are overwhelmingly common in English. So the rules about gradability are broken every day, everywhere, by almost every speaker of English. We like hyperbole because we like the drama and enthusiasm it connotes - it actually sounds friendly and engaging to most English speakers. So you will often hear things like "This pie is absolutely delicious! It's even more delicious than the last one you made! This is the most delicious pie I've ever eaten!" If I had made the pie, I would actually like to hear something like that - even though it might not be logically coherent.

    (In some ways, the gradable/ungradable distinction reminds me of the countable/uncountable distinction: it exists as a general guideline for most words, but almost all words can be used either countably or uncountably, given the correct circumstances.)
     
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