Intensifiers and downtoners are fun to cover because we use them in many different situations, so it’s fairly easy to create examples and practice tasks. But since I feel they’re used a lot more in conversation, I chose to limit my examples to spoken contexts in my latest YouTube lesson.
Another decision I had to make was how informal I wanted to get. I decided to include some of the odder, but still common intensifiers we’ve come up with in American English: crazy, stupid, and wicked. I gave credit to my 15-year-old son who reminded me about “stupid good.” I also briefly mentioned our use of profanity, but my personal preference for substitutes like freakin‘.
My explanation is in-depth, but no one video can cover a topic from every angle. Students also need further practice. If you’d like to explore this topic more with your own learners, check out my Intensifiers and Downtoners_exercises.
I also recommend additional exposure to intensifiers and downtoners in real contexts.
- YouGlish will provide many examples, including use of “crazy good.” Have students work in pairs to search for other combinations like “nice and clean” and “good and ready.”
- GetYarn allows an interesting comparison of “awfully good” vs. “awful good” as well as “really good” vs. “real good.”
- You can turn to song lyrics and use a search tool like FindMusicByLyrics. My curiosity led to to find songs with “utterly” and “totally and utterly.” Just remember that some song lyrics are explicit, so you can do a search in advance and find appropriate songs to share with your students.
Featured photo by wynpnt. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/illustrations/thermometer-temperature-measure-1917500/.