He is very / very much senior to me.

Li singh

Senior Member
In the question of a grammar competition, I came across a sentence which is a part of finding errors out. The sentence is segmented into four parts. The sentence is
A) He is very senior B) to me so; I C) dare not play a joke D) on him.
I think there not any error, but a teacher told me that ''very senior'' was the issue and added that ''very much'' should be added there ( He is very much senior...). I am confused about it.
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Very much" is correct but very formal.
    "Very senior" is colloquially acceptable.

    A natural way of expressing this would be: A) He is [much] more senior B) than me so;


    Senior Member
    British English
    I prefer very senior because much doesn't go with an adjective unless it's a comparative adjective. These apples are much nicer than those. In any case, very much senior sounds tautological. It's like saying very much green.

    He's a very senior member of the government.
    Generals are very senior to privates

    Cross-posted. I don't think you'd say very much in the OP sentence even if it is correct. You can sometimes have very much with a past participle. If you think I'm sympathetic, you're very much mistaken.
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    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    The teacher is right, though it's not a very big mistake.

    You can say that someone is very senior, and here "senior" is just an ordinary adjective, but if you say that someone is "senior to me", it becomes a comparative adjective.

    The grass is green. :tick:ordinary adjective
    The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.:tick: comparative

    Now if we add emphasis with very:

    The grass is very green.:tick:
    The grass is very much green.:cross:
    The grass is very greener.:cross:
    The grass is very much greener.:tick:

    The parallel here, then, is:
    He is very senior.:tick:
    He is very much senior.:cross:
    He is very senior to me.:cross:
    He is very much senior to me.:tick:


    Senior Member
    One problem I see with Paul's suggestion [he is more senior] is that it seems to suggest the speaker is also senior, but the other person is 'more senior'. Based on my experience with Indian English, this is not necessarily so. The speaker does not at all have to be senior, but in India, it seems, seniority is generally seen as very important. People who do not outrank you but have been in the government service longer than you have, are always 'senior to you'. :) Quite frankly, when it comes to a good, grammatical way of saying this, I am a bit baffled. I remember hearing expressions like 'very senior' and I remember not liking them :D

    If I had to think of a way of expressing this, I would probably say 'he is my senior, by far' or some such thing...


    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I am not comfortable with "very senior" and I would replace "very much senior" with "quite senior to me".

    "Very senior" sounds wrong, and I would not use it.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    One problem I see with Paul's suggestion [he is more senior] is that it seems to suggest the speaker is also senior,
    That is not quite so: "seniority" is like the weather - it is impossible not to have it. On the day you join the job, the seniority clock starts to tick.

    As an example, in the mid-80's, a circumstance arose in which a decision had to be made. As we were all of the same grade, we asked amongst ourselves "Who is the most senior?" It turned out that my seniority in the grade began 21st October 1969, which beat the seniority of another person whose seniority had started on 22nd October 1969... I made the decision.

    The Indian Civil Service is the embodiment of the old British Civil Service.
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