Hello guys! I'm from Japan and I have a question to English speakers about the uses of the "very much".

My E-J dictionary says that "This is very much an agricultural problem" is a good English phrase but that "She is very much a pretty woman" is wrong. It explains we should not use the construction "be very much a/an ADJ NOUN" when the ADJ is gradable one. Do you agree to this explanation? If you agree, could you give me the reason(s) why we cannot use the construction when the ADJ is gradable?

Thanks in advance.
I agree. With gradables, the gradable itself is intensified with very: She is a very pretty woman. This is not possible with nongradables: (X) This is a very agricultural problem.

In the case of nongradables, I would suggest that very much is idiomatic in the way it is used, as it is with nouns and verbs:

This is very much an agricultural problem
He is very much the entrepreneur.
He is very much missed by his former co-workers.

In these sentences, 'very much' functions like the adverb 'quite'.
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Thank you, Mr. M.

As to your argument/position that very much is idiomatic in the way it is used with a noun, would you say the following lends an exception to your categorizing of the phrase very much as being idiomatic when used with a noun?

This is very much an agricultural problem. (Used with a noun??)

This is very much of an agricultural problem.

I sometimes see these changes or substitutions being possible without changing the meaning in any cognitive degree and what are the guidelines if there are any?
My take:

This is very much of an agricultural problem
is a casual form of This is very much an agricultural problem. The grammar of the former does not hold up well under (my) scrutiny.

I don't want very much of your sandwich. -- OK
I don't want very much of your problem.-- ???
Hi Anon,

This is my view:

[Very much] can be used in different contexts, however, with slightly varying meanings.

In general, [very much] means a lot, almost completely, or deeply.

1) Since her devoice, she is very much giving up her social life. – almost completely

2) Jan and Paul are very much in love since they meet. – they love each other deeply

3) Thank you very much for showing me how to use this program. Deeply appreciative.

4) War and poverty are very much the two major problems plaguing most African countries.

5) He is very much a loner. - he is almost completely anti-social.
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