Uso das Palavras em Inglês

The use of ‘so’ and ‘such’

Most students, specially those at begginer and pre-intermediate levels, usually get a little confused about using ‘so‘ and ‘such‘. This is so because both words can be translated as ‘tão‘ in Portuguese. In this case, they are adverbs and are commonly used with adjectives. When can you use one word instead of another? Is there any difference? That’s what you’ll learn by reading this post.

Before going on take a look at the sentences below:

  • She is so beautiful. [Ela é tão bonita.]
  • It’s so nice to see you! [É tão bom te ver!]
  • He’s so fat. [Ele é tão gordo.]
  • You’re so naive. [Ela é tão ingênua.]
  • They are so polite. [Eles são tão educados.]

Notice that in each sentence ‘so‘ is followed by an adjective: ‘so beautiful‘, ‘so nice‘, ‘so fat‘, ‘so naive‘, ‘so polite‘. Now look at the sentences below and compare them to the group above:

  • She is such a beautiful girl. [Ela é uma garota tão bonita.]
  • He’s such a fat man. [Ele é um homem tão gordo.]
  • You’re such a naive girl. [Você é uma menina tão ingênua.]
  • They are such polite kids. [Eles são umas crianças tão educadas.]

Notice that the structuresuch a + adjective + noun‘ is being used. In Portuguese the same thing happens. That’s why I tell teachers and learners that if you compare sentences in Portuguese, you’ll realize how it is in English. Read the Portuguese equivalences below and notice the difference:

  1. Ela é tão bonita.
  2. Ela é uma menina tão bonita.

In sentence 1, we’re just using ‘tão + adjective‘. In this kind of structure we always use ‘so + adjective‘ in English: ‘so beautiful‘, ‘so hot‘, ‘so happy‘, ‘so sad‘, ‘so cold‘, etc. In sentence 2, the structure is ‘um|uma + noun + tão + adjective‘. In English, this structure is ‘such a + adjective + noun‘: ‘such a beautiful girl‘, ‘such a hot town‘, ‘such a sad woman‘, ‘such a happy child‘, ‘such a cold place‘, ‘such an interesting person‘, etc.

What you have to get used to is the word order. So, I recommend you write your own examples. Learn the word order and you’ll learn how and when to make use of ‘so‘ and ‘such‘ meaning ‘tão‘. Compare sentences and make it easier for you. Some people teach [and learn] this as if it were grammar rules. However, this is not grammar rules! This is the use of words [I call it ‘gramática de uso’]. That’s what makes the difference: the way you learn [or teach] it! Quer ler essa dica em português? Então CLIQUE AQUI!

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