degree adverbs modifying adjectives ‘almost certain’

Here’s an example of hedging an assertion:

I’m almost certain that it was him.

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You seem pretty sure of yourself.

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C1 point 210 in MODALITY on the English Grammar Profile is based on:

MODIFYING an ADJECTIVE for HEDGING with a degree adverb.

We are offered only two examples: ‘quite probable’ and ‘almost certain.’  Since this is in the category of modality, this point requires a weakening of the user’s certainty.


Collocates 4 sides to the left and right on iWeb corpus for “quite probable“:

1 IT (PPH1 ) 528
2 SEEMS (VVZ ) 31

 

3 POSSIBLE (JJ ) 20
4 YOULL (VV0_NN1 ) 10
5 THEREFORE (RR ) 9

 

 

“Almost Certain”

These 2 words draw much more negative vocabulary.  Death, Failure, Defeat, Destruction and Doom are the most common collocates.

1 ‘M (VBM ) 1209
2 AM (VBM ) 825


3 DEATH (NN1 ) 628
4 SEEMS (VVZ ) 392


5 FAILURE (NN1 ) 90
6 FAIL (VVI ) 73


7 DEFEAT (NN1 ) 54
8 FACING (VVG ) 54


9 DESTRUCTION (NN1 ) 44
10 DOOM (NN1 ) 31


Degree adverbs are included below, but they will not all be appropriate to hedging with the right types of adjectives, so we have added certain|probable only to our inital iWeb searches.  Then searched for other adjectives that suggest modality.

A2:

almost|badly|enough|far|just|least|less|most|nearly|pretty|quite|so

1 ALMOST CERTAIN 14337
2 PRETTY CERTAIN 5005
3 MOST PROBABLE 4500
4 QUITE CERTAIN 4323
5 LESS CERTAIN 3687
6 SO CERTAIN 3357
7 MOST CERTAIN 1483
8 JUST CERTAIN 1384
9 QUITE PROBABLE 670
10 LESS PROBABLE 656

2 PRETTY SURE 125824

5 ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE 50883

8 QUITE SURE 36290

15 PRETTY CLEAR 21686

B1:
absolutely|completely|extremely|fairly|fully|hardly|indeed|perfectly|rather|terribly|totally

1 FAIRLY CERTAIN 8572
2 ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN 5840
3 COMPLETELY CERTAIN 746
4 PERFECTLY CERTAIN 246
5 TOTALLY CERTAIN 199
6 RATHER CERTAIN 165
7 EXTREMELY PROBABLE 143
8 FULLY CERTAIN 120
9 INDEED CERTAIN 70
10 HARDLY PROBABLE 60  (too strong for hedging?)

B2:
barely|deeply|entirely|greatly|highly|incredibly|positively|practically|simply|strongly|thoroughly|virtually

1 HIGHLY PROBABLE 2473
2 ENTIRELY CERTAIN 1100
3 VIRTUALLY CERTAIN 1066
4 PRACTICALLY CERTAIN 175
5 ENTIRELY PROBABLE 96
6 POSITIVELY CERTAIN 53