'Such' and 'So' Differences in Grammar for ESL Learners

Woman looking at a car for sale
"It was such an expensive car that they didn't buy it.".

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Structures using 'such' and 'so' are similar in meaning, but different in construction. The main difference between the two structures is that 'such' takes a noun phrase, whereas 'so' takes an adjective.

'Such … that'

'Such … that' takes a noun or modified noun in a noun phrase. 'That' can be used following the noun phrase but is not required.​​

such + adjective + noun + (that)

Examples:

  • The recording was such a disappointment that I didn't buy any more from that artist.
  • It was such an expensive car that they didn't buy it.

'So … that'

'So … that' takes an adjective. 'That' can be used following the noun phrase but is not required.

So + adjective + (that)

Examples:

  • The game was so fascinating (that) he played for hours.
  • Our vacation apartment was so luxurious (that) we didn't want to leave.

'So' for Results

'So' can also be used to express a result. In this case 'so' is followed by a full clause:

Examples:

  • I had a lot of time so I visited the museum.
  • She wasn't happy in her current position so she looked for a new job.