SOME WAYS OF USING « SO »

mai 2, 2010 à 7:22 | Publié dans english (all), intermediate english | Laisser un commentaire

*Image created at wordle.net

According to a Wikipedia survey of a corpus of nearly 30,000,000 words, « so » is the 39th most frequently used word in the English language. So, it`s important to know how to use it, don`t you think?

Fluent, natural English is the goal of every ESL learner, and an understanding of small, high-frequency words like « so » is often overlooked. This lesson will examine 3 different ways in which we use « so ».

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Read through the following dialogue and pay attention to the uses of « so ». George is talking to Amy, but she isn`t really interested in the conversation.

By the end of the lesson, you will be able to confidently use « so » in all of the contexts below.

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George: Hello Amy! I was waving at you from across the road.

Amy: Oh, hi George. I didn`t see you. So… er, how are you?

George: I`m great, and it`s so nice to bump into you, I haven`t seen you for such a long time.

Amy: Yeah, I know.

George: So what are you doing later? Do you want to go for a coffee so we can catch up a bit?

Amy: Sorry, I can`t – busy. Actually I have to go, so I can`t today, so… well, maybe I`ll see you soon.

George: Yeah I hope so. See you!

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1. USING « SO » AND « SUCH » for emphasis

Expressing strong feeling, or adding emphasis in English can be achieved in many ways. One of the most frequent ways is by using « so » and « such ».

We use « so » and « such » in a similar way to « very » when we want to add strength to a sentence or statement. When we say the words « so » and « such » in this context, we emphasise them by articulating them slightly louder and more distinctly than other words in the sentence.

e.g.

English is so difficult

English is such a difficult language to learn

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(i.) We use « so » with an ADJECTIVE or ADVERB

SO + adjective – It`s so warm today

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(ii.) We use « such a » when we are describing a SINGULAR COUNT NOUN and « such » before a PLURAL NOUN or a NON-COUNT NOUN

SUCH A + singular noun – It`s such a nice day

SUCH + plural noun/non-count noun – They`re such nice people/It`s such nice weather

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(iii.) We also use certain common set phrases with « so » and « such ». Learn the six constructions below.

SO LONG – I haven`t had an apricot for so long

SO FAR – It`s so far to walk/So far, so good

SO MUCH, SO MANY – There are so many cars on the roads today

SUCH A LONG TIME – I haven`t had an apricot for such a long time

SUCH A LONG WAY – It`s such a long way to walk

SUCH A LOT (of) – There is such a lot of traffic

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Now complete the following exercise by adding « so », « such a » or « such » or one of the 6 phrases into the gaps. Answers are at the end of the lesson.

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1. Don`t be _____ boring, it`s _____ nice day, we should be outside enjoying the sunshine.

2. Thanks for inviting me to the party, I had _____ good time!

3. They`ve got _____ money, but they never go out or do anything.

4. It`s _____ easier to just take the metro, why are you _____ eager to walk?

5. It`s not _____ big deal, when you think about it.<

6. I can`t remember the last time I ate lobster, it`s been _____.

7. It`s going well _____, but there is still _____ lot to finish.

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Now change the clauses below to create five sentences that include « so » or « such ». Scroll down to the bottom of the article for solutions.

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where I was more bored

there were lots of people

I ate a lot

you would think it was her first language

I could hardly keep my eyes open

there had not been a time in my life

I felt ill

it took me 15 minutes to cross the street!

I was tired and by the end of the day

she speaks English well

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« So » is a word that is often used in romantic contexts, to give a compliment, to flatter, or to flirt.

e.g.

You`re so beautiful

That`s such a nice dress, you look stunning

You`re so funny

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2. USING « SO » to CONNECT sentences and provide a RESULT

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We use « so » when we want to link a CAUSE and an EFFECT.

e.g.

It was raining, so I went back inside

I ran out of time, so I got in trouble for not finishing

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When using « so » in this context, it acts as a link between two statements, and provides the result/consequence of a fact/action.

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Read through the following ten « facts » and create five sentences (cause and effect) using « so ». Answers are at the end of the lesson.

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I took a taxi

It`s $4 for the milk and $3 for the bread

we were exhausted

taking a vacation in the Eurozone is getting cheaper

I didn`t have a match

I was too late to use the metro

we went to bed

the Euro is going down

I lit my cigarette on the parking meter and walked on down the street

that makes $7

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3. USING « SO » IDIOMATICALLY

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We also use so in many idiomatic ways. Here are three of the most common and interesting uses.

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(i.) So… as a time filler

People say this when they are thinking about what to say, when they are pausing for thought, or when they are trying to fill a period of awkward silence.

e.g.

(after a public argument at a restaurant) So… what is everyone having for dessert?

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(ii.) So… as a precursor to a solution, or to summarise

We often say « so » before a sentence, or question, in order to summarise our thoughts, or to move the discussion forward.

e.g.

So, what are we going to do?

So, as you can see, it`s a bad idea

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(iii.) So? as an expression of misunderstanding or disinterest

In English, we say « so » sometimes to mean that we do not understand what the relevance of something is, and also if we want to convey that we don`t care about the previous statement.

e.g.

So (what)? I don`t want to do my homework, and I hate math.

So? How is that relevant to the conversation?

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« So » is also used in one of the most famous love poems in the English language; sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare. The poem is provided below for you to read through.

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Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,                                                      5
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;                                                     10
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

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Note: thou/thee/thy are archaic words, which are very rarely used in modern English (thou/thee = you; thy = your). Also, art = are; hath = has; owest = owes; gowest = grows.

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temperate: tempéré, modéré

buds: bourgeons

summer’s lease: saison d`été

dimmed: baissé/diminué

untrimmed: inchangé

Le poème commence avec un vers d’adoration à l’être aimé; “shall I compare thee to summer’s day”. Le poète poursuit son adoration pour un être “more lovely and more temperate” qu’un jour d’été. Le poète liste plusieurs éléments négatifs au sujet de l’été. Il est trop court (“summer’s lease hath all too short a date”) et parfois le soleil brille trop fort (“sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines” ). Cependant, l’être aimé ainsi décrit possède une beauté qui durera toujours, à l’inverse de la beauté d’un jour d’été. En mettant la beauté de son amour sous la forme d’un poème, le poète préserve cette beauté pour toujours par le pouvoir des mots écrits. On entrevoit l’espoir d’un amour qui dure malgré le temps qui passe, et si ce n’est par les enfants, alors par le poème que développa leur amour qui, contrairement aux enfants, ne fanera pas.

* Summary/paraphrase adapted from fr.wikipedia.org

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Adamique offre des cours d’anglais et de français à Montréal. Visitez notre site web pour plus d’informations !

Adamique offers French and English classes in Montreal. Visit our website for more information!

Adamique在蒙特利尔提供法语和英语培训课程。更多信息请访问我们的网站.

www.adamique.com

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Answers:

1. Don`t be so boring, it`s such a nice day, we should be outside enjoying the sunshine.

2. Thanks for inviting me to the party, I had such a good time!

3. They`ve got so much money, but they never go out or do anything.

4. It`s so much easier to just take the metro, why are you so eager to walk?

5. It`s not such a big deal, when you think about it.

6. I can`t remember the last time I ate lobster, it`s been such a long time.

7. It`s going well so far, but there is still such a lot to finish.

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1. I ate so much that I felt ill.

2. There were so many people that it took me 15 minutes to cross the street!

3. I had never been so bored in my entire life

4. I was so tired that by the end of the day I could hardly keep my eyes open.

5. She speaks English to such a good level that you would think it was her first language.

1. We were exhausted, so we went to bed

2. I was too late to use the metro, so I took a taxi

3. The Euro is going down, so taking is vacation in the Eurozone is getting cheaper.

4. It`s $4 for the milk and $3 for the bread, so that makes $7.

5. I didn`t have a match, so I lit my cigarette on the parking meter and walked on down the street.

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