‘So’ vs. ‘such’

‘so’ is used with adjectives
‘such’ is used with nouns

– examples

He is so happy he has been invited to the party.
The movie was so disappointing.

His room is such a mess.
The movie was such a disappointment.

‘Such’ + (adj. + n.)

‘Such’ can be followed by adj + noun combination. This means ‘really’.

– examples:

You have such a lovely house.

Her face has such delicate features.

The house was such an awful mess.

‘So’ vs. ‘very’

‘So’ can be used instead of ‘very’.

She was very angry.
She was so angry.

However, ‘very’ cannot be followed by a ‘that clause’.
‘So’ can be followed by a ‘that clause’.

(wrong) She was very angry that she hit him.
(right) She was so angry that she hit him.

(wrong) She was very tired that she fell asleep.
(right) She was so tired that she fell asleep.

**Note: ‘that’ can be dropped if the sentence continues to make sense:

She was so angry that she hit him
She was so angry she hit him.

She was so tired that she fell asleep.
She was so tired she fell asleep.

Ambiguity of ‘that’

‘So’ + emotion + ‘that’ clause can sometimes be ambiguous because ‘that’ can mean both ‘because’ and ‘therefore’.

She was so angry that she hit him.

= she was angry, therefore she hit him
or she was angry because she hit him

Changing the tense can help remove the ambiguity.

She was so angry that she hit him.
She was so angry because she had hit him.

Exercises

1. Choose whether ‘so’ or ‘such’ is the better word:
(i) Last night he was coughing (so/such) loudly he woke up the neighbours.
(ii) They have (so/such) a nice cat.
(iii) You shouldn’t be (so/such) an idiot around my boss.
(iv) She was (so/such) a drama queen at school, but now she is OK.
(v) The weather is (so/such) hot today.

2. Make a sentence using the ‘such + (adj. + n.)’ model.

3. Finish these ‘so’ sentences by adding ‘that’ clauses (remember the word ‘that’ can be omitted)
(i) She was so happy ….
(ii) They were so late…
(iii) The weather was so cold…