Is "a lot more + adjective" an emphasis? Can I replace "a lot more" with "very" or other words?
You are correct. "A lot more" is a phrase that is used to emphasize the amount of something; to show growth and progression. However, you can't switch "a lot more" with "very" in this context. If we used "very" instead of "a lot more," the meaning of the sentence changes: "I just feel that people are very self-conscious of single-use plastics." The meaning now changes to people are extremely self-conscious about plastic usage. "A lot more" shows growth and progression. People are learning to be more self-conscious about their plastic usage. "Very" does not show growth; "very" means extremely or tremendously. Ex: We need a lot more balloons for this party. Ex: There are a lot more people at the beach than at the pool. Ex: She is very excited. Ex: We are very worried about the storm.
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