So and Such
Some of my private and company students confuse the English words SO and SUCH. The meaning can be the same but they are used with different kinds of words. (Different grammar.) Please enjoy this English lesson and leave a comment below using this grammar!
SO is used to mean very; extremely or to some high degree or level.
“Patricia is so nice. I really like talking to her.”
SUCH is used to so show a high level of importance.
“Patricia is such a nice person. I really like talking to her.”
Both words are used to give more emphasis to an adjective or adverb but the grammar is different. SO is used with adjectives and adverbs by themselves. SUCH is used with adjective phrases. (adjectives connected to nouns) Please look at the following examples:
So + adjective/adverb
“I’m so hungry! When is dinner?” = I’m extremely hungry!
“I asked Greg to go to his favorite restaurant for lunch but he said no. He must be so busy today.” = Greg must be very busy.
“Greg came in the lunchroom and ate his lunch so quickly. He was gone in just 5 minutes.” = Greg ate his lunch very quickly.
“I teach high school students, sometimes they talk so quietly it’s hard to hear them. Don’t be shy! English is fun!” = my high school students sometimes talk very quietly
Such + adjective phrase
busy adjective + guy noun
“We asked Greg to come over for dinner last Thursday but he didn’t have time. He is such a busy guy.” = Greg is a very busy person.
angry adjective + driver noun
“I don’t like to take road trips with Alex. He is such an angry driver, it’s stressful to be in a car with him.” = Alex gets very angry when he drives.
*Remember that singular countable nouns like guy and driver can’t be used by themselves.
He is such busy guy.” Is incorrect. The article a is needed here.
“He is such a busy guy.”
The article will come after SUCH. “Alex is such an angry driver.”
SO can be used with the determiners much, many, little, and few to make these words stronger. In English grammar, a determiner is a word that comes before a noun to show how the noun is being used.
Greg has so much responsibility at work. I feel bad for him, he works overtime every day. He has so little free time.
*We don’t use SUCH this way.
Greg has such much responsibility at work.
SUCH can be used with a noun to mean “like that”
Neil is a very negative person who is always complaining. I don’t like such people.
This grammar is fine but to be honest, I never talk like this and I very rarely hear this used by other native speakers. “I don’t like people like that.” is much more natural in my opinion.
Compare SO and SUCH
“I just learned that my neighbor is 89. I didn’t know he was SO old, he looks much younger!” (Old is an adjective.)
“I just learned that my neighbor is 89. I didn’t know he was SUCH an old man! I thought he was much younger.” (An old man is an adjective phrase.)
“I love living in Japan. It’s so interesting! I find cool new things every day.”
“I love living in Japan. It’s such an interesting place! I find cool new things every day.”
Common English expressions with SUCH
No such thing
“No such thing.” – This is used to say that something does not exist.
A: “I just saw a ghost!”
B: “There are no such things as ghosts, you saw something else.”
Another expression that uses this phrase is “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” This comes from bars in America in the 19th century offering free lunch for people who come in and order a drink. From Wikipedia:
Many foods on offer were high in salt (e.g., ham, cheese, and salted crackers), so those who ate them ended up buying a lot of beer.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_ain%27t_no_such_thing_as_a_free_lunch
So even though the lunch was “free” you are still paying lots of money for beer because the salty food makes you thirsty. You think you are getting free food but you are really giving lots of money to the bar!
There’s No Such Thing as an Accident
This expression can be used to mean that an accident can be prevented if we take enough time to be careful. This expression can be used to show that we are responsible for all things that happen in our lives. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224348
A: “I had an accident last weekend, my car hit a tree.”
B: “There is no such thing as an accident. How fast were you going? Were you looking at your phone while you were driving?”
Helpful tips from this post from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/such-or-so
Word definitions are from http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/
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