Emphasizer

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Emphasizer’ is a technical term used in grammar to describe a word which adds emphasis, i.e. special significance or importance, to what is said or written. However, grammarians do not all use the term in the same way.

  • Some use it of adverbs which add expressive or emotive force.to what is said or written – e.g., ‘really’ in ‘I really hope you’ll get the job’ and ‘so’ in ‘I’m so glad you have been able to come’.
  • Others use it of adjectives which reinforce or add intensity to what is said or written – e.g., ‘proper’ in ‘I made a proper fool of myself this morning’ and ‘pure’ in ‘What the prime minister has said is pure speculation’. (Adjectives used in this way almost always occupy the attributive position.)

Clearly words classified by some grammarians as emphasizers would be classified by others as intensifiers.

  • Although there may be good reason, within a particular scheme of grammatical categories, for using ‘emphasizer’ in one or other of the (narrow) ways described above, there seems little reason to object to a broader use of the term which would allow it to be applied to any word or expression, whatever part of speech it may be, which serves to add emphasis of any kind to what is said or written – e.g. the verbdo’ in ‘I do hope you will be able to come’ as well as the adverbreally’ in ‘The rumour is true: the Prime Minister really has resigned’. Emphasizers can be combined, as in the adverb + verb group 'He really did think he had succeeded - until his failure became apparent.'

For a little about the different reasons for, and ways of, emphasizing a word, phrase, clause, or sentence see Forms of emphasis; and for possible problems in the spelling of ‘emphasis’ and ‘emphasize’ see emphasis.