The word Unique is a classifying adjective. Classifying adjectives put things into groups or classes. They cannot normally be modified by having adverbs such as ‘very’ placed in front of them. Unique means ‘of which there is only one’. So it is, strictly speaking wrong to say,
· He was a very unique person. (Wrong)
· Our area is almost the most unique residential site along the South Coast. (Wrong)
There are a few other modifiers which can be used with unique. The most obvious is almost.
· Britain is almost unique in continuing to charge almost all its domestic customers of water on an unmeasured basis.
This can be justified because it means that Britain is not the only country to do this; there are a few others.
There is, however, a looser meaning frequently given (especially in informal speech and writing) to unique: ‘Outstanding or remarkable’. When it is used in this sense, it is often preceded by very:
· A very unique ‘Town’ house situated a stone’s throw away from the River Thames and Oxford City Centre.
This post is courtesy of Oxford A-Z of Grammar and punctuation by John Seely.
This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge