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Is It Correct to Say “Very Helpful”?

Sometimes we want to communicate that someone or something is helpful, but a single word doesn’t seem to work when we want to add emphasis. Is it correct to say “very helpful?” 

It is correct to say “very helpful.” The word “very” is an adverb that modifies the adjective “helpful.” It adds emphasis to the degree of help. When you use “very helpful,” you emphasize how much support a person or thing provides. You can use this phrase in many formal and informal contexts.

Please continue reading to learn more about this phrase and how to use it correctly. 

What Does “Very Helpful” Mean? 

The phrase “very helpful” means that someone or something was helpful to you to a high degree. Adding “very” adds emphasis when you want to express that not only was something/someone willing, they were exceedingly helpful.

When you want to communicate that someone has provided assistance, you can use the word “helpful.” It is an adjective that means someone or something was willing to help or useful (source).

  • The waitress was helpful in answering my questions about the menu.

The base word “help” means that someone or something has provided what you need to accomplish something or make it easier or less difficult. When you add the suffix “-ful,” you change the base word to an adjective, a describing word. The suffix “-ful” means “full of or having the qualities of” (source).

So, when you use the word “helpful,” you are essentially saying that a person or thing has the characteristics or qualities to provide help.

Adding the adverb “very” adds emphasis. In other words, not only was something or someone helpful, they were exceedingly helpful. Therefore, adding “very” intensifies your gratitude level or how you communicate that someone (or something) was helpful.

Below is an example using the same sentence, adding the word “very.”

  • The waitress was very helpful in answering my questions about the menu.

Perhaps the waitress not only described the options but shared the ingredients or explained how the cook made the meal to provide a better understanding for you. In that situation, you may want to express that they weren’t just “helpful” but went above and beyond your expectation.

How Do You Use “Very Helpful”?

You can use “very helpful” as part of simple and complex sentences when you want to emphasize the noun or pronoun you are modifying with the adjective “helpful.” “Very helpful” is a phrase, not a complete sentence, so you cannot use it alone as an independent clause.

Image by Mimi Thian via Unsplash

You’ll recall that “helpful” is an adjective, a word you can use to modify nouns or pronouns (source). So, for example, you can use “helpful” to explain that both people and/or things have been helpful to you in some way.

And again, adding “very” emphasizes the degree of help someone or something provided. “Very” is an adverb or a word that you use to modify verbs, adjectives, or even other adverbs. Here, we’re using it to modify an adjective and add emphasis.

Above, we mentioned that “very helpful” is a phrase you cannot use as a complete sentence or idea since it lacks a clear subject and verb. Therefore, you’ll only use this phrase as part of an entire clause, such as in the simple sentence below:

  • The ladder was very helpful.

The phrase “very helpful” describes the ladder. You can also add more to your sentence to make it more complex and explain how the ladder was helpful, such as:

  • The ladder was very helpful in getting the star on the top of the Christmas tree. 

Next, we’ll explain a lot of different contexts in which you can use this phrase.

When Can You Use “Very Helpful”?

You can use “very helpful” in any context where you want to describe that something or someone provided you with a lot of help, both in formal and informal contexts. You can also use it to describe people and things.

We often want to express that people are very helpful, but we can also use “very helpful” to describe objects, such as in the example above about the ladder.

Any time you are exceedingly grateful for someone’s help, you can express that they’ve been “very helpful” to you. Informal contexts may be when a friend offers to pick you up on their way to work while your car is in the shop. Perhaps the ride was very helpful since you would otherwise have had to walk or take a bus.

You might also use the phrase in a more formal context, such as when a teacher or professor takes extra time out of their schedule to help you understand a complicated idea or lesson. You could say that the teacher was “very helpful” when you didn’t understand the equation discussed in class.

Moreover, you can use the phrase for simple objects. For example, perhaps you’ve been making cookies for years without a hand mixer and finally bought one. The next time you make those cookies, you can say that the hand mixer was “very helpful” in mixing, especially when your arm was too tired to stir!

Using “Very Helpful” in a Full Sentence

Remember above, we explained that “very helpful” is a phrase, not a complete sentence. So, you’ll add “very helpful” to both simple and complex sentences in various contexts.

Below, you’ll find a few simple sentences using “very helpful” to describe objects, people, or situations.

  • The light was very helpful.
  • The driver was very helpful.
  • My sister is very helpful.

We don’t know precisely why these people or objects were very helpful, so we could add more to provide context and create a complex sentence, such as in the examples below.

  • The light was very helpful as the sun went down. 
  • The driver was very helpful when I couldn’t remember the correct street names.
  • My sister is very helpful when it comes to doing our taxes.

In each of these sentences, we’re using “very helpful” to modify a noun or pronoun and emphasize the degree of help someone or something provided.

When Not to Use “Very Helpful”

You should not use “very helpful” if you don’t need or want to add emphasis to the degree of help. You should also not use the phrase as a stand-alone thought since it is not a complete sentence.

There aren’t many contexts where using this phrase would be inappropriate or incorrect. But, if someone or something were only marginally helpful, it wouldn’t make sense to add emphasis with “very,” so instead, you can use “helpful” alone or even say “a little bit helpful.” 

For example, imagine you need directions to a person’s house, and you pull to the side of the road to ask for directions from someone walking by. Any direction is helpful if you don’t know where you are going.

However, perhaps the person wasn’t quite sure and could only tell you that the street’s name sounded familiar, but they weren’t sure how many blocks ahead it was. 

In that case, the person tried to be helpful but couldn’t give you the needed information. So, you may say, “The passerby was helpful in keeping me going in the right direction, but more precise directions would have been very helpful!

What Can You Use Instead of “Very Helpful”? 

There are quite a few synonyms for “very helpful.” However, remember that “very” adds emphasis, so you’ll look for a synonym for “helpful” first and then add “very.” 

Below you’ll find a list of common synonyms for the word “helpful.”

  • Useful
  • Applicable
  • Convenient 
  • Valuable 
  • Supportive
  • Significant
  • Friendly
  • Accommodating
  • Considerate

Note that some of these words are close synonyms but do not have the same meaning. So, always look up the definitions before you use these words interchangeably with “helpful.” But with each word above, you can add the word “very” to add emphasis. 

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Comparative and superlative adjectives are adjectives that you can use to compare the differences between two nouns. A comparative adjective compares two things, while a superlative adjective compares more than two things.

We often add an “-er” ending when we use a comparative adjective. Likewise, we add an “-est” ending when using a superlative adjective. However, there are situations when the word’s spelling changes entirely, or we need to use the words “more” or “less” for comparatives and “most” or “least” for superlatives.

The phrase “very helpful” can be similar to a comparative adjective if you compare two things. For example, if you want to say that one person was helpful, but another was very helpful, you are using the phrase comparatively. Here’s an example:

  • My friend was helpful, but your dad was very helpful!

Though your friend was helpful, the other person was seemingly more helpful. In this way, you are using the phrase comparatively to compare two people. 

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If you’d like to learn more about other common phrases and how to use them correctly, take a look at Is It Correct to Say “More Easy”? or Is It Correct to Say “Much Better”?

Final Thoughts

You can use the phrase “very helpful” in many different contexts. It’s a great way to extend gratitude and communicate that something or someone was exceedingly helpful. Remember that the word “very” adds emphasis, and you can use it before many different adjectives.