What makes a statement “absolutely true,” and how do you know if the information is the “absolute truth”? For example, when we feel strongly about something, is it correct to say, “absolutely true”?
It is correct to say “absolutely true” when you want to demonstrate how strongly you agree with something. “Absolutely” is an adverb modifying the adjective “true,” indicating that the subject is totally factual or in accordance with reality. Typically, we use this as part of a larger sentence.
This article will explain the use of the phrase “absolutely true.” In addition, we will discuss how to use “absolutely” as an adverb grammatically and how to use it to modify other adjectives and adverbs. Finally, we’ll also cover the similar phrase “absolute truth.”
What Is “Absolutely True”
When we say “absolutely true,” we’re emphasizing just how strongly we agree to a statement. In other words, it’s another way to say “yes” forcefully (source). To fully appreciate the meaning of this phrase, we need to understand the adverb “absolutely” and the adjective “true.”
The Adverb Absolutely
“Absolutely” is an adverb that modifies the adjective “true” to assert that something is entirely and totally authentic. It’s similar to using words like “utterly,” “entirely,” or “fully” (source).
Adverbs are words that most often answer the question of how and frequently refer to an action.
- I absolutely disagree with her viewpoint.
- I absolutely agree with you.
However, in addition to verbs, adverbs can modify adjectives and even other adverbs. Like many adverbs, “absolutely” ends with an -ly suffix (source). It comes from the adjective “absolute,” meaning “perfect,” “complete,” or “pure.”
The Adjective True
Merriam-Webster has several definitions for the word “true.” Depending on its usage, “true” can be an adjective, adverb, noun, or a verb, but it is usually an adjective in the expression “absolutely true.” Unlike adverbs, adjectives can only describe nouns.
The most common definition of “true” is being consistent with the actual state of affairs as opposed to false or detached from reality.
- The detective has a true description of the suspect in this investigation.
“True” can also refer to someone being loyal or determined.
- John is true to his word.
“True” is an adjective; therefore, it describes something in the sentence that is true. In the first example, the adjective describes the noun “description,” which is after the adjective. In contrast, the second sentence has the noun come before the adjective that describes it.
This descriptor is what we refer to as a predicate adjective, which points back to the subject by way of the linking verb “is.”
How Do You Use “Absolutely” in a Sentence?
Now we can see why it’s correct to say something is “absolutely true.” We can easily use this phrase as part of a larger sentence, such as “That is absolutely true,” emphasizing that you completely agree with the facts as accurate and reliable.
In this sentence, “that” is a relative pronoun, and “true” is the adjective that describes the pronoun through the linking verb “is.” Meanwhile, the adverb “absolutely” modifies the adjective “true.”
Remember, adverbs often answer the question of “how,” so “absolutely” tells us just how true something is — absolutely, totally, or completely.
For more on the adverb “absolutely” and using it with adjectives, check out “Is It Correct to Say, ‘Absolutely Beautiful’?”
Using Absolutely With Other Adjectives
People often react more to how you say something rather than what you say. So it’s very natural for us to use booster words in our sentences that emphasize our key point. Grammarians refer to these words or phrases as intensifiers.
An intensifier is an adverb that enhances the meaning of either a positive or negative expression (source). Thus, intensifiers make the adjective in the sentence more powerful. In addition, intensifiers can function with comparative and superlative adjectives.
“Really” and “very” are the most common intensifiers in English writing. Other examples of intensifiers are “absolutely,” “completely,” “extremely,” “highly,” “rather,” “really,” “so,” “too,” “totally,” “utterly,” “very,” and “at all.”
In the following sections, we’ll look at some common phrases using the intensifiers “absolutely” and “extremely.”
“Good” is an adjective that describes something of high quality or standard. In addition, “good” can describe a skill you are successful at accomplishing. However, most of the time, “good” is not particularly strong, and it can imply that something is just mediocre (source).
Consider the example sentence below.
- The cake is absolutely good.
- The cake is very good.
“Absolutely” needs an adjective or adverb that can express an extreme quality, which ‘good” generally does not do. One exception is when we use “good” to refer to moral quality as opposed to “evil.”
- God is absolutely good.
- That was absolutely evil.
For other instances, words like “great,” “amazing,” and/or “fantastic” are stronger adjectives that also mean “good.” Therefore, if we replace “good” with either one of these words, the sentence would read like this:
- The cake is absolutely amazing.
- The cake is absolutely fantastic.
The adverb “absolutely” also adds more emphasis on how amazing or how fantastic the cake is.
More appropriate than our last example would be “Absolutely great.” The adjective “great” can describe something that is major or exciting, refer to the size of a very large object or thing, or denote a feeling of enthusiasm or energy.
- It was absolutely great that many customers favored our products and services.
- The team did absolutely great!
You might have heard someone say phrases like “absolutely great,” “very great,” or “It was really great.” However, it is usually informal to say “very great” because “great” is a strong adjective, and we generally use “very” to intensify weaker adjectives.
Instead, you can use intensifiers like “absolutely” and “really” for more expressive adjectives.
- Incorrect: This is very great.
- Correct: This is absolutely great.
You can use “very” for basic adjectives that are less expressive. Rather than saying “very great,” you could say “very good,” where “good” is the basic adjective.
- Incorrect: This is very great.
- Correct: This is very good.
One instance where we might use “very great,” though, is when referring to something as very large. However, this is still less than ideal in light of better options.
The word “extreme” describes an intense situation that is more severe than usual. “Extreme” is an adjective; however, adding -ly at the end makes “extremely” an adverb.
Here is another example sentence below. This sentence tells us how good the movie is. “Good” is the adjective that modifies the noun “movie.” “Extremely” is the intensifier that modifies the adjective “good.”
- It was an extremely good movie.
Similar to “absolutely,” “extremely” adds more expression to the movie’s state of being good. It’s not just a “good” movie, but an “extremely good” movie. Also, like “absolutely,” the use of “extremely” with “good” is generally informal unless we’re referring to moral quality.
When identifying intensifiers in a sentence, adverbs must position before the adjectives they modify. So in the example below, “extremely” is before the adjective “sorry.”
- I am extremely sorry for your loss.
However, to go a little deeper, intensifiers can also weaken an adjective, and they sometimes refer to this in British English as a “downtoner.” Downtoners are words or phrases that do the opposite of emphasizing.
Some examples or downtoners are “slightly,” “fairly,” “pretty,” “hardly,” “far,” “much,” and “a little bit.” Downtoners are adverbs that modify the adjective, verb, or another adverb in the sentence.
In this case, we’ve removed the intensifier from the sentence and replaced it with one of the downtoner phrases, making the sentence less intense while adding vagueness.
- Example: It was a pretty good movie
“Better” can be an adjective or an adverb depending on its usage in the sentence. As an adjective, it is the comparative form of “good” or “well” As an adverb, “better” can refer to someone being in favor of one side over another.
- I did much better on the written exam than on the oral exam.
As an adjective, “better” describes the feeling of recovering from being sick.
- My sister is feeling absolutely better.
In the above example, “absolutely” is the adverb that tells us how much better she’s feeling. As a result, “Absolutely” modifies the adjective “better” and emphasizes that she feels completely better.
For more on adverbs modifying adjectives, read “To Bad or Too Bad: Meaning, Grammar, and Proper Usage.”
Absolutely as an Interjection
Again, “absolutely” is useful when we pair it with adjectives or adverbs that express intense feelings or extreme qualities. In addition, using “absolutely” as an interjection is synonymous with emphatically responding “yes” to a statement, though we would rarely do so in formal or academic writing.
An interjection is a word or phrase that expresses a sudden or strong feeling (source). Interjections are independent of the rest of the sentence and don’t modify anything. They typically proceed with exclamation marks.
In this case, you can use “absolutely” on its own as an interjection to express a strong affirmation. In other words, you can respond independently with “absolutely” if you are responding to a question or a statement.
- Person 1: Do you think she is attractive?
- Person 2: Absolutely!
- Person 1: We all need to work harder to get this project completed.
- Person 2: Absolutely!
What Is the “Absolute Truth”?
It is also correct to say “That is the absolute truth” when expressing that something is unalterably true. Though many philosophers have debated whether absolute truth exists, most people recognize that there are fixed and certain things, even if they disagree as to what those things are.
The Adjective Absolute
The adjective “absolute” is a descriptive word that has several closely related definitions. According to Merriam-Webster, “absolute” can mean “perfect,” “pure,” “unmitigated,” “unrestricted,” “positive,” “unquestionable,” “fundamental,” or “ultimate.”
When it functions as an adjective, it modifies the noun in the sentence.
- He has absolute power to make final decisions.
In the sentence above, “power” is a noun, and “absolute” is an adjective that modifies the noun. Therefore, this sentence explains how much power he has to make the final decision.
The meaning of “absolute” in that sentence describes a person’s fundamental importance in decision-making.
Absolute as a Noun
Similarly, “absolute” as a noun refers to something like a principle or idea that is true no matter what or at least that we perceive to be true no matter what (source).
Furthermore, Collins Dictionary defines “absolute” as a countable noun. A countable noun is a word that has singular and plural forms.
In addition, there are words you can use with countable nouns to answer the question “how many?” For example, if someone asks, “How many dogs do you have?” you can say, “I have three dogs.”
Now let’s apply this to “absolutes”:
- There are a few absolutes we need to follow to be part of this organization.
Counting words like “little/few,” “much/many,”’ or “some” are adjectives that can modify countable nouns. In the example, “few” is the adjective that modifies “absolute” as a countable noun. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
The Noun Truth
“Truth” is a noun referring to the actual facts about something, the state of being true, or something that someone accepts as accurate. Since truth is a noun, we typically precede it with the definite article “the,” as in “the truth.”
- I’m telling you the truth.
It is correct to say “absolutely true” using an adverb modifying an adjective to state how strongly you agree with something. Similarly, it is proper to say “absolute truth” utilizing an adjective modifying a noun.
“Absolute” expresses something as perfect, complete, or unmitigated, and the adverb “absolutely” indicates something done in that way or existing to that degree. Both adjectives and adverbs are modifiers, with adjectives modifying nouns and adverbs modifying adjectives, other adverbs, or verbs.
“Absolutely” is an intensifier that fits well with strong adjectives and not so well with weak adjectives. For weaker adjectives like “good,” it is better to use “very.” “Extremely” is another intensifier that works much like “absolutely.”