1. He is much loved.

2. He is much interesting.

3. Your thoughts were much appreciated.

4. This is a much needed development.

5. His face is much red.

6. It was a very stimulating discussion.

7. It was a much stimulating discussion.

If 1, 3, 4, 6, why not 2, 5, 7?

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Comments  (Page 2) 
Regarding the place of present participles, Webster's Dictonary of English Usage only mentions them in their article on participle:

.... The thrust of the argument is that very cannot modify a verb and therefore should not modify its past participle; very much is prescribed. That the basis of the argument is illogical is pointed up by the omission of the present participle from the discussion, a defect that is, shall we say, very disappointing. [Emphasis added.]

I'm guessing that the adjectival nature of present participles is assumed. And if they function as adjectives, they can be modified by very.
A critical point in my long quotation above is: "Very by itself does not modify verbs, and therefore it cannot modify the past participle of a verb." Why not? From The Online Etymology Dictionary:

c.1250, verray "true, real, genuine," later "actual, sheer" (c.1390), from Anglo-Fr. verrai, O.Fr. verai "true," from V.L. *veracus, from L. verax (gen. veracis) "truthful," from verus "true," from PIE *weros- (cf. O.E. wær "a compact," O.Du., O.H.G. war, Du. waar, Ger. wahr "true;" Welsh gwyr, O.Ir. fir "true;" O.C.S. vera "faith"). Meaning "greatly, extremely" is first recorded 1448. Used as a pure intensive since M.E. [Emphasis added.]

And from Mary Ansell: English Grammar: Explanations and Exercises:
a. Intensifiers
An adverb which is used to modify adjectives and adverbs, but which is not usually used to modify verbs, can be referred to as an intensifier. In the following examples, the intensifiers are printed in bold type.
e.g. I am very happy.
The film was quite good.
You did that rather well.
Must you leave so soon?
In these examples, very modifies the adjective happy, quite modifies the adjective good, rather modifies the adverb well, and so modifies the adverb soon.

The following words are commonly used as intensifiers:


In addition, the word really is often used as an intensifier in informal English.
e.g. The film was really good.

So very is a pure intensifier and much, apparently, is not. When I think about it, very applied to any verb does not sound right: I drive very, I very drive... (But I don't drive much.) Very can only intensify some other modifier: adjective, (definitely) adjectival participle, or adverb.
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Hi to all,

very and very much,

We don't use very before verbs, but can use very much before some verbs to emphasise how we feel about things:

-I very much agree with the decision. ( not ... very agree ....)

-We (very) much enjoyed having you stay with us. (not ... very enjoyed..)

Verbs like this include agree, doubt, fear, hope, like, want; and also admire, appreciate, enjoy, and regret.

We can use very but not (very) much before participles adjectives

-She was very disturbed to hear the news. ( not ...Se was very much diturbed...)

-It's very dissappointing. ( not .... It's very much disaapointing...)

However, we use (very) much but not very before a past participle which is part of passive:

-The new by-pass was (very) much needed.

Also, We use extremely, very, etc. with gradable adjectives and absolutely, completely, etc. with ungradable adjectives

-extremely/ very difficult

-absolutely/completely clear
Thanks very much for all the material, RVW (and you too, Yulysses!).

It will take a little while to digest. At first glance, I wonder whether there's a hint of a circular reference underlying Webster's thoughts on 'very'. For instance, we might say, but 'very' can modify 'pleased':

1. I was very pleased to hear about your engagement.

Webster replies: 'pleased' is no longer a participle, in this usage; it has attained pure adjectival status.

We might then say, but how do we know that 'pleased' has attained pure adjectival status?

To which Webster replies, because it can take 'very'.

(And 'very' + 'present participle' also seems troublesome.)

But I'll go away and think it over.

By the way, RVW, there was a broadcast of your namesake's London Symphony here this evening (the 1913 version). Very interesting (and not at all disappointing).

MrPedanticBy the way, RVW, there was a broadcast of your namesake's London Symphony here this evening (the 1913 version). Very interesting (and not at all disappointing).
Whenever I meet someone who appreciates Vaughan Williams' music, I feel less of a stranger in a strange land.
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1. 'Much' still retains a core sense of 'quantity'. 'Very', however, as an intensifier, relates to 'quality'.

"Much of what we say is empty burble." "Very true."

2. Since the past participle is passive in meaning, the object of its action (when used adjectivally) is usually expressed.

"They call him the forgotten man." ('He' is the thing forgotten.)

"He is greatly loved." ('He' is the thing loved.)

3. Since the present participle is active in meaning, the object of its action (when used adjectivally) is not usually expressed.

"It's an interesting book." "This thread is fascinating."

4. The past participle therefore retains a sense of 'action'. The present participle however tends to the stative.

5. 'Quantity' is appropriate to an action. We 'do' something to a greater or lesser extent. 'Quality' is appropriate to a state. We 'are' something to a greater or lesser degree.

6. Thus 'much' + adjectival past participle; 'very' + adjectival present participle.


I was ignorant of these problems at all, so I guess I'm not supposed to interrupt your discussion, but your hypothesis seems interesting. ... That is, it gives an explanation which is understandable more intuitively.

Having read your hypothesis, now I'm trying to understand this part of rvw's material (which I contracted violently):
[Webster's Dictionary of English Usage --{"Very" and the past participle}]

[1] There was a discussion between Muller and Hall as to whether such expressions like "very pleased", "very delighted" and "very concerned" --- i.e. the combination of very with an adjective formed from a past participle --- were Americanisms or Briticism.

[2] The reasoning involved in this issue is easy enough to follow. 'Very' by itself does not modify verbs, and therefore it cannot modify the past participle of a verb. The crux of the matter, then, is whether the past participle is simply a participle or whether it is an adjective. On this point many commentators are uncertain.

(Fowler 1926) If the participle is being used attributively rather than predicatively ("a very worried expression" rather than "he was very worried"), it is functioning as an adjective and can be modified by very. If the noun or pronoun modified by the participle names "the person or thing on which the verbal action is exercised" rather than some aspect or feature of that person or thing ("he was very worried" rather than "his expression was very worried"), then the participle is functionaing as a verb and requires much. And finally, if the "verbal character" of the participle is "betrayed" by a preposition such as by ("very worried by what he had heard"), much is again required. So says Fowler.

I think that your hypothesis is not incompatible with this description, MrP. However I'm not so sure how we can measure the "verbal character."
I'm wondering: does 'quantity' express this properly? (although I cannot think of any alternative term)

I think the term 'quantity' is not bad at all, though; it has some advantages. As an expression of 'archetype', so to say. But when I try to understand it as a measure of "verbal character," I feel like searching some paraphrase to understand. How do you think?

Anyway, your argument seems convincing for me.

(Sorry for my interruption.)
Dear MrPedantic, yulysess, and Roro,

We have opened several issues in this thread. I would like to go over some of them and state what my thinking is about them now that we have discussed them.

MrPedantic's original post asked why very and much cannot be used equally, interchangeably when modifying regular adjectives, present participles, and past participles.

1. I would say that the adverbial use of much, in the sense of very, has simply evolved into what it is:
usu. used with adjectival past participles "much interested", "much pleased by the compliment", "much gratified" and in negative constructions "not much good at all".
---Webster's Third New International Dictionary. MrPedantic's argument does not answer its use in negative constructions: She did not study much. For a more detailed explanation, go back 800 years and trace its use. (Note that adverbial much by itself has very limited use, while very can be applied to: regular adjectives, adverbs, adjectival present participles, and adjectival past participles. Perhaps adverbial much evolved as just a fill-in in those applications where very cannot be used.)

2. As yulysess noted, we do not use very to modify verbs. Very has been used as a pure intensive since Middle English. The use of very becomes debatable with verbals, which have a dual character of verbs and modifiers. In the long article I quoted from Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, it is argued that premodificaton by very is a characteristic, explicit indication, test of adjectives, not participles. Then the question is not whether very should modify a participle, but is the participle an adjective. Quirk gives four tests for determining if a participle is an adjective, but "...for all practical purposes you are going to have to trust your ear." Participles tend to become acceptably adjectival over time.

In this vein, I would like to quote from Understanding Grammar, by Paul Roberts:
The peculiar characteristic of the participle is that it is at once part modifier and part verb. We see its modifying nature in its ability to fulfill all the functions of the adjective; it is verblike in its ability to express tense and voice and to be attended by subjects and objects. Some theorists attempt to distinguish participles with adjectival force and participles with verb force. They would find adjectival force in sitting in "a sitting duck," because the participle describes the duck, but verb force in sitting in "The duck, sitting quietly in the water, observed the scenery," because the participle tells what the duck was doing. But the distinction is tenuous; most participles are adjectival and verbal at the same time. In both examples, sitting may be said to describe the duck by telling what the duck is doing.
To be sure, one force or the other may predominate. The adjective force is stronger when the participle occurs in the attributive or predicate postion, in which we cannot use the compound forms and in which the participle cannot occur with subject or object. The verb force is likely to be stronger in the other positions, where the participle with its subject or object is often the equivalent of a modifying clause....

3. I partially disagree with yulysess' statement "However, we use (very) much but not very before a past participle which is part of passive: The new by-pass was (very) much needed." Again, if to your ear the participle is an adjective, very by itself is acceptable. He was very discouraged.

4. My ear disagrees with yulysess' prohibition of very much before adjectival participles. She was very much disturbed to hear the news does not especially jar my senses. Maybe I'm just well-adusted to participles as adjectives.

I'm on page 80, Roro.
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(I owe you a lot, rvw. Just wanted to say thanks.
I'm still working on those themes, too. See you later, take care!)
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