Here are two sentences, I found confusing when solving grammar exercise in oxford Grammar.

a) I __do__ like that coat. It's really nice.
b) I __very__ like that coat. It's really nice.

According to book (a) is the correct one because "do" is putting emphasis on the "like" verb. However if anyone can guide me why I cannot use "very"? "Very" is a adverb and coming before verb seems Ok to me or may be anyone can tell the exact reason why is it not correct because it's also seems like putting emphasis on the sentence?

  • This is a major problem with the traditional 'dustbin' class that is traditionally labelled 'adverbs'. I'd always call words used as 'very' in say 'He is very tall' / 'She drives very fast' "secondary modifier of adjective / adverb". 'Very' is an intensifier, but one that cannot be used to modify a verb directly (unlike 'really'). Many secondary modifiers (then being intercategorial polysemes, arguably different words) can also be used as regular adverbs (He speaks reasonably quickly // He speaks reasonably). //// 'a' is correct; 'do-support' has been covered before on ELU. Jun 9, 2017 at 11:16
  • (a) is correct because there's nothing wrong with it, and because (b) is incorrect (because it would need to be "I very much like that coat." Jun 10, 2017 at 4:10

1 Answer 1


From my personal experience, we never use the word "very" with any verbs although it is labelled as an adverb in the dictionary. Being an adverb simply means that it can be used to describe a verb, an adjective, or an adverb. But at the same time it does not mean that one adverb can be used to describe all three.

Therefore, we won't say I very like/love/hate someone. "Do" in this case is used to add emphasis; however, the equivalent words for "very" in this case are "really," and "truly."

  • "I was very scared while watching horror movie." In this sentence "very" is an adverb and "scare" is a very. So we can use adverb with verb. However I understand it's usage is limited.
    – Tariq
    Jun 9, 2017 at 10:41
  • Yes, we can use an adverb with a verb, but that does not prove scared is a verb in that sentence. If you want 'very like,' refer to Hamlet, where Polonius used the expression to humor Hamlet, "Very like a whale." Jun 9, 2017 at 13:20

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