SOとVERYの違い|What is the difference between ‘so’ and ‘very’?

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Hey, hey Coach Chris here with eigo2020.jp where we fix the English mistakes Japanese people make before the Olympics and beyond. Some of my students write on occasion, “it is so far.” Or “it is very far”. so which is which? Alright? The word ‘so’ is like ‘very’ but without the intense emotion attached to it. So they are not interchangeable and you cannot just switch them in and out. Alright? An example would be, if you are saying that your grandma’s place in Fukui is so far it feels like, it sounds like excuse me, you don’t want to go there because it’s too far. However, if you said that it is very far, then you are just expressing the distance is far from your without any of the emotions attached. Okay? for example, if you said this coffee is very hot, it sounds like you are just going to let it cool down. But on the flip side, if you said this coffee is so hot, then feels like you are emotionally connected and you are upset that somebody made the coffee in the way they did. Like Starbucks. It’s so hot. But please in this case, use the correct adverb, which is the degree word in this case. I have no problem with you telling your friends: Coach Chris is so fun to watch. In fact, I have a problem if you don’t tell your friends that. So come to eigo2020.jp where we are creating rapid English training programs. so you can master English as quickly as you’ve always wanted to. So, subscribe and tap at the bottom of the screen so  you can get all of our videos as soon as they come out. Let’s train for the olympics and beyond and remember, Coach Chris is always with you.


[日本語文へ]

Is there any difference in the first place? 

To begin with, I would like to share where we stand in terms of words with seemingly identical meanings.

Although they may seem to have exactly the same meaning, for both of them to exist they must be different in some way, right? 

When the form (or spelling) is different, they must be different in some way be it the meaning, nuance or the usage.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at ‘so’ and ‘very’

Both of them are used before an adjective to strengthen its meaning. 

For example, 

  • It was so hot this summer. 
  • It was very hot this summer. 

The most common explanation you’ll find is that ‘so’ is relatively casual whereas ‘very’ is more formal. 

Therefore, you’d use the first phrase in conversation with friends and family and use the second phrase in writing or in a more formal context. 

We could also say that ’so’ would be equivalent to Japanese すごく and ‘very’ とても.

But why?

Asking why is always a good thing.

Let’s start with ‘very’

When you use ‘very,’ you are making an objective observation. It’s not just ‘a bit hot,’ nor ‘hot’ butvery hot.’  You are simply saying that the degree of the state (the temperature in this case) is at the higher end. 

Compared with ‘very,’ ‘sois much more personal, emotional and subjective. You use ‘so’ to make some kind of point

‘Very’ is objective, so you don’t have to add anything and people understand. But ‘so’ being subjective and personal, the listener expects that you have your own personal reason why you say ‘so’.  (No pun intended.)

For instance, 

  • It is so hot this summer.

You could be saying any of the following: 

  • “I can’t stand it anymore.”
  • “It is crazy and needs to stop.”
  • “I don’t feel like going outside.”

To further articulate this point, let me introduce different ways ‘so’ is used. 

When using ‘so,’ you have an option to follow up the sentence with ‘that’ clause, which lets you personally or authentically indicate how ‘hot’ or ‘late’ it was.

  • It was so hot that all the ice in the Arctic melted. 
  • It was so late that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. 

To wrap this topic up, here is a bonus grammar point for you. 

When followed by an ’adjective+noun’ combination, use ’such’ instead of ‘so’

(‘very’ can be used for both cases: very hot,’ ‘a very hot day’)

  • It was such a hot day that she ate four scoops of ice cream.
  • It was such a beautiful sunset that he started crying. 

To recap, ‘very’ is an objective observation with a universal standard, and ‘so’ is personal, emotional and subjective, which can be followed by ‘that clause’ explanation or justification. 

I hope this article was so helpful that you understand the grammar very well.

[日本語文へ]

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