1. I was very surprised. vs. I was much surprised.
  1. I was very tired. vs. I was much tired.
  1. I was very pleased. vs. I was much pleased.
  1. I was very bored. vs. I was much bored.
  1. I was very interested. vs. I was much interested.

Are there any 'much' in the sentence above which are not used or rarely used or grammatically wrong? 'much' as an adverb can modify adjectives grammatically.

  • See thisquestion. I don't think using much in this context is ever grammatically wrong, but some of your examples are unidiomatic. Jun 12, 2022 at 13:41
  • Can I ask 'what are the 'some of my examples'?
    – gomadeng
    Jun 12, 2022 at 13:50
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    I don't think anyone would say '[very] much bored' or '[very] much tired'. In the other examples, using much rather than very might be acceptable in rather formal speech but not in everyday language. Jun 12, 2022 at 13:54
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    IMHO using much in such contexts is usually a "dated affectation". I was much impressed by your performance sounds decidedly "lah-di-dah" to me, compared to ...very impressed... Jun 12, 2022 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


Grammatically, “much” can be used as adverb for a participle.

What ngram shows is that doing so has been going out of favor, particularly in American English, in written prose for decades.



As for spoken American English, “much surprised” is so rare as to be virtually non-existent.

If you are asking about American English, most uses of “much” to modify adjectives will sound affected or archaic or outright weird.

The dress was a much bright red

sounds quite strange to this American’s ears.

The dress was a very bright red


The dress was a quite bright red

are what is standard

  • 1
    "Very much" is often more acceptable than "much" alone in these constructions. For example, "I was very much surprised by your excellent performance" sounds OK (though not great) to my American ears. Jun 12, 2022 at 17:45
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    @MarcInManhattan I agree. Good point. I think that the frequency of the redundant “very much” is a further indicator of how little American usage accepts “much” as a modifier of adjectives. Jun 12, 2022 at 19:10
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    Yes, and I'd argue not only as a modifier of adjectives: I was suprised in college by my friend's habit of saying "thank you much", because I'd only ever heard "thank you very much". I'm more used to the former now, but the latter still sounds better to me. Jun 12, 2022 at 19:19

This is another of those cases where usage has changed over time...

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