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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


Explanation on the use of so and such in English.

SO and SUCH often have the same meaning : 'very' or 'to this degree'.

So is used before an adjective or an adverb (without a noun after it):
  • so big
  • so carefully
Such is followed by 'a' or 'an', + an adjective + a singular noun :
  • such a long time
  • such an incredible story
Such is used without a, an before plural nouns, mass nouns (luggage, furniture)
and abstract nouns (advice, courage, generosity, kindness ... )
  • such fools
  • such (beautiful) furniture
  • such generosity

Compare the following sentences:
  • This book is so interesting.
  • This is such an interesting book.
  • Such interesting books are hard to find.

  • I was amazed that the crowd was so big.
  • I was amazed that there was such a big crowd.
  • Such big crowds can be frightening.

  • The story was so complicated.
  • It was such a complicated story.
  • Such complicated stories are difficult to follow.

  • You are so intelligent.
  • You are such an intelligent person.
  • A person of such intelligence is a pleasure to meet.
'So ... that' and 'such ... that' are used to describe reasons and results.

So + adjective + that :
◊ The hotel was so comfortable that we decided to stay another night.

Such + adjective + noun + that :
◊ It's such a comfortable hotel that we'll definitely stay there again.

Try an exercise :
online exercise  |  printable version

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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