Reply to "very much a..."

kuen posted:
Does it sound natural to use 'out-and-out' instead of 'very much'  in your example?

A: Is he a loner?
B: Oh, yes! He is an out-and-out loner.

Is there any difference between out-and-out and very much something?

Hi, Kuen,

No, "out-and-out" is not a natural or a good substitute for "very much" in the example I gave. "He is an out-and-out loner" means "He truly is a loner," "The category of loner completely fits him." It does not mean that he is emphatically a loner, or a loner to a high degree. Here are contexts where "out-and-out" works:

CONTEXT 1
A: Is he a loner?
B: Not really. He may spend a lot of time by himself, but he isn't an out-and-out loner. When his schedule is free, he loves to spend time with others.

CONTEXT 2
A: Does he like to spend time with others?
B: He doesn't seem to. In fact, I've never seen him spend longer than a minute or two with anyone. I would say he is an out-and-out loner.

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