1.He is the very image of sophistication( he has all the qualities of sophistication)( extracted from the inside reading book 3)

2.This is the very much the story of a story

I am wondering if the concept or meaning of the bold parts are the same.

Any help would be appreciated

  • 3
    Is #2 taken directly from something? It appears to be very poorly constructed. (#1 is fine.) – miltonaut Dec 12 '14 at 11:37
  • 2 really needs to lose the first 'the', then it would make sense. – gone fishin' again. Dec 12 '14 at 16:19

No. These sentences use two different senses of the word very.


He is the very image of sophistication.

This sentence uses an older sense of the word very. It means true or definitive.

He is the true image of sophistication.

His image defines sophistication, or he defines the image of sophistication.

This sense of very is always used with the definite article. This makes sense because there is nothing more definite than the definitive. This special sense of true always modifies a noun.


This is very much the story of a story.

This sentence uses the common sense of the word very. Here, the word very intensifies the word much. It does not make sense to substitute "true" or "definitive" in this sentence:

This is true much the story of a story. This is definitive much the story of a story.

True modifies the word image in the first sentence. Image is a noun. In the second sentence, very modifies much. The word much is not a noun. This works because the common sense of very does not modify nouns. When the common sense is used, it is not always combined with the definitive article, and the article is not always placed before the word very. For example:

This is very much a story about stories.


In short, you're looking at two different meanings for the word very, and each meaning has its own grammar.


How you put the definition in your first sentence is a good way to describe the meaning of the very X:

X is the very Y means X has all the qualities of Y.

So, applying this to your second statement (which would make more sense if it was written This is much the very story of a story):

This has (much) all the qualities of a "story of a story"

which makes sense to me and is how I'd interpret it. It sounds like this sentence is commenting on a story, and saying it is basically a "story of a story."


"Very" is an intensifier. Normally it is used as an adverb modifying an adjective or another adverb. "Bob is very tall." Not only is Bob tall, but we want to emphasize how tall he is. "Sally drives very recklessly." Not only does she drive recklessly, but we want to emphasize how reckless.

There is a relatively rare usage where "very" modifies a noun, like your example. In this case it means the extreme or most stereotypical version of that thing. For example, "I am the very model of a modern major-general." Not only is the speaker claiming to be a model of just what a major-general should be, but he's "the very model", the most perfect example one could imagine.

Or in your first example, not only is he sophisticated, but he is the "image of sophistication", the very idea that comes to your mind when you hear the word "sophistication". And more than that, he's "the very image", the most stereotypical or classical example.

Usually, I think, when "very" is used with a noun, the noun is a word indicating a class or stereotype. We say, "the very model of a major-general", not "the very major-general"; or "the very image of sophistication", not "the very sophistication".

"Very" can also be used as an adjective to emphasize that you mean that one specific thing. Like, "That rope was the very thing we needed to escape." Any old thing would not have done, we needed one specific thing, namely, that rope. Or, "This is the very town where I was born." This means pretty much the same thing as "This is the town where I was born", but I am emphasizing that it was this town and not some other town.

Your second example is awkwardly worded. I'm not sure if you were quoting someone or trying to create your own sentence from examples you've seen. A better wording would be, "This is the very idea of a story of a story" or "This is the very model ..." etc. You could also say, "This is very much the story of a story", but then that's a different usage, then you're using the more conventional form of "very" as an adverb modifying the adjective "much", rather than modifying a noun.

  • Is this coorect? This is the very type of a car – nima Dec 14 '14 at 10:28
  • It could be. In context, you'd have to be saying what type of car. "This is the very type of a fast car" or "... the very type of a luxury car." If you meant cars in general, you probably wouldn't say "type". You'd probably say "image" or "idea". In this case you probably wouldn't say "model" because when we talk about the "model" of a car we mean the specific design, like "What model is this car?" "It's a 1974 Chevy Nova." – Jay Dec 15 '14 at 14:39

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