Both adverbs has the basic meaning "most, extremely". There are also ずいぶん and とても.

So, とても is the first word we usually learn that means "very". Then I learned 最も as a superlative. As for ずいぶん, I understand that it is somewhat subjective to the speaker and carries a feeling of surpise. And now I stumbled across 非常に, how is it different from the other superlatives?

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    There is no big differences about them and others, I found an excellent page about their differences in use, context and commonness, but It's all in japanese :X
    – CrisCM
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 12:34

3 Answers 3


非常{ひじょう} as a noun means "Unusual situation", "Emergency". As a adjective it has meaning "outstanding", "unusual", "not average". It indicates difference from a normal state.

Examples from Explanatory dictionary can be helpful:

「非常に悲しい{かなしい}」- very sad

「非常な才能{さいのう}」- unusual talent

とても just makes following adjective stronger. Often they are interchangeable, but 非常に feels a little bit stronger and as I sad also indicates "unusuality".


I think the meaning of 非常に is similar to とても. Goo dictionary says 非常に is often used in the case of negative things like 非常に悲しい, 非常に遺憾だ and so on. I feel 非常に is a little stiff, so I don't often use and hear it in casual conversation.


Since neither of the two answers seemed to address the word 最も, I'll answer.

To me "非常に" and "とても" have very similar meaning, however 非常に sounds a bit more formal. I can see a young person saying とても but have a harder time imagining them saying 非常に.

"最も", in my experience, is usually used to mean "the most", in the sense that it is #1 in some category (like 一番). So ”最も好きな人” would mean "the person I like the most". 非常に would have a very different nuance and not feel as it is indicating the "best" like 最も does.

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