kuen posted:

What is the difference between 'He is a loner' and 'He is very much a loner'?  Thanks.

Hi, Kuen,

"He is very much a loner" is simply an emphatic version of "He is a loner."

The version with "very much" sounds very strange outside of context.

Here is a context in which the version with "very much" would work:

A: Is he a loner?

B: Oh, yes! He is very much a loner.

David, Moderator posted:
kuen posted:

What is the difference between 'He is a loner' and 'He is very much a loner'?  Thanks.

Hi, Kuen,

"He is very much a loner" is simply an emphatic version of "He is a loner."

The version with "very much" sounds very strange outside of context.

Here is a context in which the version with "very much" would work:

A: Is he a loner?

B: Oh, yes! He is very much a loner.

Hi David

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?

Thank you very much.

 

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.

David, Moderator posted:

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.

Hi David,

I have some more questions as follows:

1. Do you mean that 'very much' doesn't mean "he truly is a loner," or "The category of loner completely fits him"?

2. Is 'out-and-out' only used in a negative way?

3. When you describe someone is a loner, Doesn't it mean he or she is truly a loner?

Thank you very much for your help.

kuen posted:

I have some more questions as follows:

1. Do you mean that 'very much' doesn't mean "he truly is a loner," or "The category of loner completely fits him"?

Hi, Kuen,

Yes, that is what I mean. "Very much" is an intensifier, indicating that something possesses a predicate in a high degree. "Out-and-out" is not an intensifier; it says merely that something is unquestionably a member of a category.

kuen posted:
2. Is 'out-and-out' only used in a negative way?

Basically, yes: "out-and-out" is used with predicates that have a negative connotation. I recommend searching a corpus for "out-and-out," such as the Corpus of Contemporary American English; you'll find a host of such examples:

  • "out-and-out stolen"
  • "out-and-out drunk"
  • "out-and-out lies"
  • "an out-and-out plan of extortion"
kuen posted:
3. When you describe someone is a loner, Doesn't it mean he or she is truly a loner?

Yes, Kuen. As Gertude Stein wrote, "A rose is a rose is a rose." Thus, to understand why people use "out-and-out," you need to go beyond the literal meaning to its use. It highlights a thing's membership in a negative category.

David, Moderator posted:
kuen posted:

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.

 

Hi David,

Can we say that he is very much a loner in context 1 above?

Do you mean that 'very much a loner' means a loner to a high degree, but not completely?

Thank you very much for your helpful answer.

Hi, Kuen,

No, we can't say that he is very much a loner in context 1. We can use "out-and-out" but not "very much" there. The two have different meanings. That is what I keep trying to explain to you.

kuen posted:
Do you mean that 'very much a loner' means a loner to a high degree, but not completely?

No, Kuen. "Completely" simply means that the predicate is accurate. "To a high degree" means not only that the predicate is accurate, but that the thing to which it is being applied in the case at hand is an outstanding exemplar of that predicate.

kuen posted:

Is there any other way to express the same meaning as 'very much a...'?

Hi, Kuen,

Yes, there is. The first paraphrase that comes to mind is the following:

  • He is emphatically a loner.

The adverb "emphatically" has replaced "very much" in "very much a loner."

kuen posted:
Could you please give me another example of 'very much' with more context?

Well, let's take this positive example, even if it's a bit old-fashioned:

  • When Rebecca's mother asked her whether her new boyfriend was a gentleman, Rebecca assured her that he was very much a gentleman, that he always opened doors for her and never uttered a distasteful word.

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