English Grammar: So VS Such
So and Such in their basic form are both used to express the idea of "to a great extent" or "to a high degree", often used to EMPHASISE a certain quality.
These two little words create the same meaning, but grammatically are used in different ways.
SO is used BEFORE an adjective or adverb and WITHOUT a noun.
E.g. "That dog is SO cute!"
SUCH is used BEFORE an adjective+noun or BEFORE a noun without adjective. If there is an 'a' or 'an' the such also comes before this.
E.g. "That is SUCH a cute dog!"
Or without the adjective:
"That dog is SUCH a cutie!" The main difference is that SUCH binds with a noun, whereas SO does not bind with a noun.
In all three of the above examples, you are emphasising the fact that the dog is very, very cute.
And this is the basic use of SO and SUCH. Easy, right?!
What makes things a little bit more complicated is that we can also use these words in various different phrases, and sometimes the meaning can change a little. Read on to find out more!
So, here are ten of the most common ways you might see SO or SUCH being used in other situations...
SO or SUCH plus THAT - to show a result. E.g. "The dog was SO cute THAT I fell in love immediately and had to take him home." "It was SUCH a cute dog THAT I had to take him home." Meaning: I fell in love with the dog and had to take him home BECAUSE he was very very cute.
SO plus MUCH, MANY, LITTLE, FEW or SUCH plus A LOT OF - to specifically emphasise the number or amount of something being big or small. For this you can use the phrases: So much, so many, so little, so few, such a lot of. However it's important to use the right one depending on whether your noun is countable or uncountable. For UNCOUNTABLE nouns you can use 'so much' or 'such a lot of' for a very big amount or 'so little' for a very small amount: E.g. "You drink so much tea." = "You drink such a lot of tea." "There is so little water in the bath." For COUNTABLE nouns you can use 'so many' or 'such a lot of' for a very big number or 'so few' for a very small number: E.g. "I saw so many birds in the park." = "I saw such a lot of birds in the park." "There were so few people in class today. Where were they all?"
ONLY plus SO MUCH or SO MANY - to show a limited amount or level of something. E.g. "There is ONLY SO MUCH you can get done in a day." Meaning: There's a limit to how much you can do in a day. Or "There are ONLY SO MANY ingredients in the cupboard." Meaning: There's a limit to the amount of ingredients available.
SO or SUCH used in negative sentences - to mean this specific amount or level of something. E.g. "It isn't usually SO busy here." "There aren't usually SUCH crowds of people here." Meaning: There aren't usually this many people in this place.
SUCH in SUCH AS - which means 'for example'. E.g. "There are many types of vegetable, SUCH AS carrot, broccoli, pepper..."
SUCH in AND SUCH or AND SO ON - which means 'etc' or 'in addition to other similar things'. E.g. "...languages such as French, German, Italian, AND SUCH." "There are many advantages, it creates jobs, is sustainable, is cost-effective, AND SO ON.
SO in OR SO - which means 'approximately' or 'roughly'. E.g. "There are 50 OR SO people in my company."
SO in a response - to refer to something that's already been mentioned in the conversation. E.g. "Yes, I think SO." or "Oh, I hope SO!" Meaning: I think or hope that what you just said to me is true. Note that this is also possible in the negative or in questions: E.g. "No I don't think SO." or "Oh really? Do you think SO?"
SUCH plus noun or NO SUCH plus noun - to refer to the existence of something (Formal). E.g. "Ghosts? There's no SUCH thing!" Meaning: Ghosts don't exist. Or "Oh yes I've heard of SUCH a place." Meaning: I've heard of a place like the one you are describing to me.
NOT plus AS SUCH - meaning 'not exactly' or 'not in the normal way' (Formal). E.g. "We're not having a party AS SUCH, just a small gathering of close friends." Meaning: We're not really having a party but we're doing something similar - a smaller version.
I hope this helps clear up some confusion around these two little words. If you have any questions, as always feel free to contact me! 😃