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I know that this question can be applied to other words in their adjective and adverb forms. But as I came across "extreme", I'm specifying my question about it.

I have found them both possible according to Google search and Ngram. So, when do we use it as an adjective and adverb?

Example sentences:

This extreme/ly bad habit of yours is so annoying.

And

Don't remind me of that extreme/ly hard experience.

I learned that adverbs come after verbs to describe them, but the above sentences don't describe their verbs, and as "extremely" means "very", it seems reasonable to come as an adverb since "very" would fit well. However, it would be logical for them to function as adjectives since they describe the nouns that follow them.

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If you have two adjectives together, they both describe the noun to which they are applied. An "extreme hard experience" is an experience that is both extreme and hard. There's a subtle difference in meaning between "extreme hard experience" and "extreme, hard experience", but that's a whole other kettle of fish.

An adverb before an adjective means the adverb describes the adjective. An "extremely hard experience" is an experience that is hard, and extremely so. In this case, as an adverb it acts as an adverb of degree, like very or slightly.

  • Thanks a lot. So does "extreme..experience" mean "intense..experience" when it comes as an adjective? And are the two adjectives not interchangeable but when a comma separate them they become interchangeable as if there's an "and" that connect them? – Tasneem ZH Apr 7 at 16:46
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    Extreme as an adjective can mean a few things. Something that is more "what it is" than other version of the same thing, or something that is intense, or something that is risky, or something that is more than it needs to be. Without the comma, you usually can't change the order. The convention is the so-called "royal order of adjectives", but there's lots of exceptions to that. The explanation some have for that is that the right-most adjective and the noun form a noun phrase and the next adjective left modifies that noun phrase. It kind of makes sense. They apply consecutively... – SamBC Apr 7 at 16:52
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    With the comma, the two apply concurrently, separately, independent of one another, and you can usually have them in any order you like. – SamBC Apr 7 at 16:53
  • It is a subtle difference indeed. They (two rules regarding the comma) are very different yet very similar to each other at the same time. Thanks again. – Tasneem ZH Apr 7 at 17:06

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