Grammar Patterns

Graded and ungraded adjectives

Pattern 18: how ADJ v-link n

The adjective follows how and is followed by a link verb and a noun group. This pattern is used to ask questions about the extent of a quality.
How popular is poetry as a form of entertainment in Britain today?
'How tall are you?' 'One metre sixty-five.'
The following adjectives are used in questions in this pattern instead of their opposites, even when the question concerns something that is not big, deep, heavy, old, and so on. For example, how big is more frequent than how small in questions.
  • big
  • deep
  • heavy
  • high
  • hot
  • long
  • old
  • tall
  • thick
  • wide
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