AP1 Degree modifiers with gradable adjectives and the link with how?

Intervention outline

You will need:

  • Oval, diamond and cloud shapes, plus black ‘degree’ marker
  • Real objects of different sizes, textures
  • Same objects/pictures that differ in degrees of a property only e.g. grubby / dirty / filthy shirt; short pencil, longer pencils
  • Photos/images of people with different emotions
  • Photos/images of people with same emotion in differing degrees e.g. happy man, jubilant man.


App settings: 

not yet available on the app


Intervention steps:

  1. Introduce 2 objects/photos using same concept for comparisong. a slightly dirty shirt and another very dirty shirt. Explain you are going to talk about ‘comparing’ the two objects/images and answer how + adjective questions. (It is probably best to start with gradable adjectives which have a minimal presence of a property required, e.g., dirty, sick, bumpy, fluffy, even if a small amount of dirt, sickness, bumps or fluffs are present, these can be used).


  1. Lay out two cloud sentence templates.



Point to the first shirt and say (while pointing at the shapes): “this shirt is dirty”. Write this on the shapes



Point to 2nd shirt add ‘very’ and black degree marker into second cloud in front of the green line and help child to say this shirt is very dirty.



  1. Flip over the sentences’ clouds and write/ask what like questions related to both shirts. Show that the what like question needs the contents of whole cloud as a response.


  1. Then add an additional how + adjective question to the back of second cloud and ask “How dirty is this shirt?” (point to 2nd one) and show that the same response is required.



  1. Introduce other degree modifiers (e.g., slightly, a bit, quite, fairly, very, extremely) and show that these are on a continuum where the ones on the right have more of the property than the ones on the left.


  1. Introduce other gradable adjectives where their use is dependent on the object they are used with (e.g., hot, cold, sad, happy, tall, cheap, big, long). For example select a typical length pencil and then compare other pencils, saying whether they are a bit/quite/very/extremely long/short. Repeat with other items which have a different typical length (e.g., rulers, paper clips, ladders) to show that the degree is relative to a typical item, rather than to an absolute value.


  1. Introduce other adjectives which have a maximum amount of the property (e.g., clean, healthy, empty, full). For these, additional degree modifiers are allowed e.g., completely, almost, nearly, absolutely).


  1. Show that for some adjectives (where there is both a maximum and minimum amount), fractions and percentages can be used as degree modifiers e.g., half empty, 3/4 full, 90% full.


  1. You may introduce additional negation (shown below) here, for those individuals with very secure semantic concepts.


  1. Introduce too + adjective and adjective + enough separately, e.g. mouse that fits into a mousehole versus a bigger mouse that doesn’t OR a jumper that fits a doll versus one that is too big for the doll. This will need opposing adjectives in the 2 sentence templates. Place the black degree marker as shown.





  1. You could also introduce negation e.g. not big enough as an alternative to the second sentence. Show how the black negative X is placed before the cloud.


  1. Repeat with multiple examples. Ask what like/how + adjective questions. Model and support the child to produce the whole contents of cloud as response e.g. What is this mouse like? Too big. How big/small is this mouse? Too big/small enough.


  1. Repeat with other degree modifiers that work in the same way e.g. just big/small enough/almost big/small enough etc ensuring the semantics of each is taught as needed.