So is a conjunction. It can join two sentences.
· I like her, so, I want to date her.
· I want to watch a movie, so I booked tickets for tonight’s show.
So is also an adverb. Technically, so should be used before an adjective or adverb to tell the degree of the adjective or adverb. For example, so cruel, so beautiful, so nice.
· My niece is so cute.
· Her in-laws are so bad, they treat her like an animal.
· I feel so great about this proposal.
· You are so lucky to have found me.
In addition, you can use so with ‘that’ to indicate result of an action.
The water is very cold.
The water is colder than it was yesterday.
The water is/was so cold that I am/was unable to swim.
You see the difference? When we use so, we often also indicate the result of the verb that follows the ‘so’. A few more –
· Why do you say so, when you don’t mean it?
· He is so tall, my neck pains when I look at him.
· It was so hot yesterday (that) we couldn’t play football.
· The meal was so expensive (that) we could buy just one for 3 of us.
· I have so many books I don’t even have place to keep them all.
To indicate the amount of something, we use so with many, much, little or few.
· I have so many things to do today.
· How can you have so much patience?
· The amount of curd she gave me was so little.
· The college had so few teachers.
You can use ‘so’ for a guess or approximation too.
· Do you think our son will be alright? I hope so.
· We can go there by 9 pm or so.
· We have many varieties of fish – bluegill, perch, minnows and so on.
· Mark tells me you have 6 years of IT experience. Is that so?
Such is a determiner and pronoun, which tells a situation similar to previous one.
· Such things should never happen in future.
· There is no such thing (as a ghost)!
· They have many outdoor activities like swimming, horse riding and such in the campus.
Such should be followed by a noun or adjective+noun combination. If you have singular noun, articles like an, the or a should be used. Examples –
· We had such a lovely time at your party.
· Such a move will discourage people from throwing garbage on streets.
· Such intelligent children should be sent for higher studies free of cost.
· The impact should be such that people fear going there ever again.
Phrases with such –
As such – in the exact sense of the word.
· As such, there is no dinner plan. We will be back by 6pm.
· He may not be reliable. As such, he does freelance for two competitors.
· She has no say in what I do. As such, she is not my manager.
Such as – For example
· There are many types of cuisines such as Mexican, Indo-American etc...
· Emotional poems such as these have no value in today’s world.
Such and such – substitute to refer to a person or thing
· Such-and-such person needs to be present in the court on Monday morning.
· Write a letter stating that we need all the items by such-and-such date.
Notice that in the above we can use so-and-so too!
The similarities between so and such –
Both so and such tell the degree or extent of something.
It was such an expensive restaurant.
The restaurant was so expensive.
There is no difference in the meanings of the sentences. Only the way of expression is different. By little tweaking in the structure, we can interchangeably use so and such.
How to determine which one to use?
It depends on the word you want to emphasize on!
In the above sentence, ‘it was’ is redundant.
However, it may not always be the case. Let us take one of the previous examples –
The impact should be such that people fear going there ever again.
The emphasis here is on the word impact.
We can say, “It should be so impactful that people fear going there ever again.”
Again, we do not want to know the ‘it’. All we care about is the impact.
Consider another one – We had such a lovely time at your party.
We can also say – the time we spent at your party was so lovely. But that sounds so complex and unnecessary. However, if you want to emphasize on time, or compare another current situation with this one, this sentence might make sense, let us say – “This party is boring. The time we spent at your party was so lovely!”
All in all, you will have to make your own judgement to decide which one to use based on emphasis and meaningfulness of the sentence. Just remember the syntax mentioned in the beginning of this article so that you can make grammatically right sentences.