Usage and difference of ‘so & such’

(Intensification and comparison with ‘so’ and ‘such’ – explanation)

Table of contents – usage of ‘so & such’

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Using ‘so’ and ‘such’
  2. Further explanations and exercises

How are ‘so’ and ‘such’ used in sentences?

In English grammar, the words so and such can be used either as adverbs or as pronouns. They both serve as intensifiers of adjectives and adverbs. Specifically, ‘so’ and ‘such’ fulfil the following purposes:

  1. These general rules apply to the use of ‘so’ and ‘such’ in English grammar:
    • If no noun or pronoun follows, ‘so’ is utilised:
      • “Don’t you want to take off your jacket? It’s so warm today.”
        • In this statement, the adjective (marked in green) appears alone, which means without a noun.
      • “It is hard not to fall asleep. He speaks so slowly.”
        • This utterance displays an adverb (marked in green too), also without a noun.
    • If there is only a noun (i.e., without an adjective) in the sentence or if an adjective or adverb precedes a noun, then ‘such’ is used (but note the exceptions under point 3):
      • “My neighbour always helps me. He is such a nice man.”
        • use of a noun with preceding adjective
      • “I don’t like such things.”
        • The noun stands alone here.
    • Now, compare both possibilities of using ‘so’ and ‘such’:
      • “The last book I read was so interesting.”
      • “The last book I read was such an interesting one.”
  2. It is very common for ‘so’ and ‘such’ to appear in combination with a that-sentence describing a particular result. In most cases, the conjunction ‘that’ can be omitted:
    • “It was so cold (that) I had to go inside.”
    • “It was such a big house (that) I couldn’t even find the bathroom.”
  3. Be careful: When using ‘so’ and ‘such’ in connection with the quantifiers ‘much, many, little, few’, the following exceptions exist:
    • “I have never had so much money in my life.”
      • incorrect: ‘… such much money’
    • “There were so many people that Sue couldn’t find her friend anymore.”
      • incorrect: ‘… such many people’
    • “We have so little time left that we can’t afford to go there too.”
      • incorrect: ‘… such little time’
    • “The museum has so few visitors that it has to close down.”
      • incorrect: ‘… such few visitors’
    • Again, be aware of the particularities when using ‘a lot of’:
      • “She has received such a lot of presents that she must be the happiest person on earth.”
        • incorrect: ‘… so a lot of presents’
  4. Additionally, ‘such’ can also be employed to make comparisons. For this purpose, ‘as’ is added as a supplement:
    • “I like small shops such as the one around the corner.”

Further explanations related to the ‘Usage and difference of ‘so’ and ‘such’

The following explanations refer to the topic ‘Intensification and comparison with ‘so’ and ‘such’ in English’ and might also be interesting: