Hey there, this is Teacher Ola podcast episode 12: SO or SUCH?
My name’s Ola and I teach English to individual learners through 1:1 lessons online.
This podcast is for you if you’re an English learner who wants to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. Boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation. Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!
Thank you for being here, for spending the next few minutes with me. It’s going to be a grammar point today. So or such? I’m going to tell you the main rule, next we’ll look at WHY it is so confusing. What is the purpose of using ‘so’ and ‘such’, what’s the meaning? Then, I’ll show you some common mistakes and how to avoid them. At the end, you’ll have a chance to say correct sentences out loud and by doing that practice your speaking. So you benefit twice tuning in to this episode. First, you’ll learn or brush up rules you might have forgotten and make it really practical by saying a few sentences out loud.
I will say it again, the whole idea behind TOP is that you don’t waste your time here, you don’t listen in Polish if you want to speak English, right? You don’t stop yourself from speaking, because sole listening won’t make you a confident speaker of English. Say the sentences out loud. Hear yourself repeating the sentences. Let’s fight that barrier, shall we?
I’ll start with ‘so’. Use ‘so’ before adjectives and adverbs. Adjectives: big, strong, beautiful, hard. Adverbs: nicely, smoothly, elegantly, kindly. The whole phrases:
So big, so strong, so beautiful, so hard, so nicely, so smoothly, so elegantly, so kindly.
We’ll practice sentence repetition later, as for now, I just want you to see the big picture. The main, general rule. So+adjective or adverb.
‘Such’ is a bit more complicated, and more often than not we make mistakes with ‘such’. I’ll show you WHY in few more minutes. We use ‘such’ with nouns. Nouns: a dog, a box, a table, chocolate, juice, wine. The whole phrases:
Such a dog, such a box, such a table, such chocolate, such juice, such wine.
Have you noticed how I added ‘a’ after ‘such’ before a countable noun? You cannot omit ‘a’ before countable nouns. A box, a dog, such a box, such a dog. Uncountable nouns, so the nouns we can’t count like chocolate, juice or wine normally don’t take ‘a’. Hence we end up with such chocolate, such wine, such juice.
There are many exceptions, as always in this language, I’m sure you noticed… Nothing’s carved in stone. Hah. In terms of English, there are more exceptions than rules. I’ll note to make an episode on countable and uncountable nouns for sure.
How come it’s so confusing when I want to speak if the theory sounds that easy? Well, the problem occurs, when we want to refer to adjective+noun. A big house. What our brain notices first is the adjective BIG, so it wants to be correct and follow the rule and put ‘so’ before an adjective. ‘So big house’. It’s a mistake. The adjective doesn’t stand there alone, it’s followed by a noun, do you see that? ‘A big house’. What do you put before nouns? Yes, you put there ‘such’. The correct phrase is: ‘Such a big house’.
Stay with me, and you’ll hear some more common mistakes, and you’ll learn how to avoid them.
Now, the meaning. We ‘use’ so and ‘such’ to emphasise the adverb or adjective, to make them sound stronger. Notice the difference between: It’s a good blog, and: it’s such a good blog. Do you see how emotional the second sentence is?
Look at her, she’s beautiful and: look at her, she’s so beautiful.
‘Such a good blog’, ‘she’s so beautiful’ make bigger impression, ‘so’ and ‘such’ add this emotional element.
You can use ‘so’ and ‘such’ with ‘that’. For example, It was such an inspiring speech that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. One more sentence, but with ‘so’ this time: I go to bed so late, that I’m always tired in the morning.
On many occasions, you can change the sentence and express the same thing using either ‘so’ or ‘such’. For instance:
I haven’t studied English for so long.
It’s been such a long time since I learned English.
She is so intelligent.
She’s such an intelligent woman.
He’s so tall.
He’s such a tall man.
Common mistakes. Very often we tend to forget that countable nouns are preceded by an article ‘a’. Uncountable nouns are not. For example the weather. It’s a mistake to say: We had such a beautiful weather.
Weather is uncountable, hence We had such beautiful weather.
Another common mistake stems from what I said at the beginning, we overuse ‘so’. For example, I have so wonderful friends. It’s a mistake. Remember that ‘so’ is used before adjective but when they adjective isn’t followed by a noun. What this sentence should sound is: I have such wonderful friends. By the way, don’t forget that the adjective ‘wonderful’ is pronounced with the sound ‘a’. Wonderful friends. If you feel confused, you can always take an easy way out, and I don’t see why not and say: My friends are so wonderful.
To wrap up, I’d like you to practice speaking now. I’m sure, you know that just listening you won’t make it. You won’t reach your goal. You will never eliminate your barrier if you don’t start speaking. Begin speaking to yourself, repeat the sentences it’s the simplest thing you can do right here right now. Not later. Now! OK, are you ready? Let’s do this:
It’s such a good tip.
I like London. It’ so inspiring.
I like Lucy. She’s such a good friend.
I like them. They’re such helpful people.
The music was so annoying, I had to ask my neighbours to turn it down.
It was such a nice day!
I wear such old clothes, I need to go shopping soon.
We had so much to eat, we felt ill.
What a bargain These were such cheap tickets, I bought more.
I didn’t know she had so much money.
He’s such a nice guy.
He talked such nonsense, everybody laughed.
Bravo! Yet, that’s not all. Now practice some more using my worksheet number 12. It’s available at teacherla.com/12. It’s full of expressions, it’s full of exercises with so and such.
Do you have any questions? I’m sure you’re at least less confused now. If you want more advice though, let me know. email@example.com.
If you think there’s someone who could use some grammar help, let them know about me.
I invite you to be here next Wednesday because I’ll share my tips on how to sound more natural while speaking. It’s not only about pronunciation, so don’t miss it. Till then, have a great week. Happy learning! Bye-bye.