Do we have some grammar rule regarding the form of the word busy? For example, in some cases, we use the word "busier/more busy". In other cases, we use the word "very busy/too busy."

I found the following description:

I was very busy with my work. My boss loaded me with further work, so I became busier. As I was too busy in my office, I couldn't afford the time to take care of my parents.

Here these two forms of busy are used, which are not interchangeable.

  • I don't think there's any difference between "busy" and any other adjective, in this regard. So "busier" and "more busy" are used in the same way as any other comparative and "too" and "very" have their usual meanings. So I'm not sure what your question really is. Is it about when you should say "busier/more busy" versus when you should say "very busy/too busy"? Aug 18, 2017 at 18:50
  • @davidricherby Yes, I was looking for this difference, which I got in response. Aug 20, 2017 at 8:07

2 Answers 2


"Very busy" doesn't mean the same thing as "busier". "Busier" is a comparative: more busy than something else. You could be busier than another person, or busier than you were yesterday, etc. "Very busy" is an absolute. It is not compared to anything. If I say that I am "very busy", that says nothing about whether I am busier than I was yesterday or not. I could be very busy today but not as busy as I was yesterday, etc.

"Too busy" is different from either of the others. "Too busy" says that I am over some threshold. Again, I could be "too busy" but still be less busy than I was yesterday. I suppose "too busy" normally implies "very busy", but not necessarily. Maybe I'm not all that busy, but I nevertheless I am too busy to do some side task.

Busy-ness is hard to quantity so it's hard to nail down these words. But consider some more absolute word, like "hot". If it was 50 degrees yesterday and 60 degrees today, than it is hotter today than it was yesterday, but few would call 60 degrees "very hot". If it was 110 yesterday and 100 today, it is surely very hot, but not hotter than yesterday. If it is 40 degrees it is too hot for ice to remain solid, but we probably wouldn't call that "very hot". Etc.

  • 2
    Most of the world would consider 50 degrees very hot, especially if you don't clarify you mean Fahrenheit rather than celcius.
    – The Photon
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:10
  • @ThePhoton Not my fault if most of the world doesn't understand basic measurement units! It must be very confusing to perform even a simple calculation of fuel cost in Europe: First you have to convert liters to gallons, then you have to convert kilometers to miles, and finally you have to convert euros to real money. :-) On the somewhat serious side, I thought "degrees" were understood to be Fahrenheit, and Celsius temperature is just "20 Celsius", not "20 degrees Celsius".
    – Jay
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:17
  • At least WIkipedia also talks about degrees Celsius.
    – The Photon
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:18
  • 1
    @Jay: I can confirm that, in the rest of the world, if someone says it's so-and-so degrees, they typically mean Celsius. So 50 degrees would indeed be very hot :)
    – psmears
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:36
  • Total tangent then, but: I recall reading years ago that the term "degrees Celsius" was to be replaced with simply "Celsius". Like we don't say "degrees Kelvin", we just say "kelvins". But a quick internet search now and I find no reference to this. Was this a proposal that never got off the ground? Or am I confused and it was just a bad dream I had one day?
    – Jay
    Aug 21, 2017 at 13:36

Busier and More busy mean the same thing -- they're just the comparative form of busy.

These have the same meaning:

Busy / busier (comparative) / busiest (superlative)

Busy / more busy (comparative) / most busy (superlative)

Very busy means exactly "very busy." There is no simpler way to describe it.

Too busy usually means you're overloaded with work and cannot possibly finish it all. In less formal usage, it can sometimes mean you aren't inclined to do something because you have more important things in your life. For example, people say, "I'm too busy for your foolish nonsense," which is what my girlfriend often says to me.

  • Busier = more busy. Can this rule be applied to all the adjectives and adverbs, or just few of them? i.e. hotter = more hot... Is there any specific grammar rules saying what kind of adjectives and adverbs can be like that?
    – dan
    Aug 19, 2017 at 0:50

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