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Imagine two 12-13 years old brothers. One of them will have an exam the next day and the other one has lots of free time and feels bored. This is why he goes to his brother and starts to talk to him. Their mother notices that the free brother is bothering his brother and decides to ask her free son not to distract his brother. She tends to say: "Don't bother him to this great extent." I was wondering if someone could tell me which one of the following choices fits better in my self-made sentence below:

  • Don't talk to him ..... much Jim. He has an important exam tomorrow.

  • so

  • this

For me, they both mean the same here.

3

If their mother noticed that they have been talking for a long time then it is preferable to use "that much."

But if she just noticed that they are talking then I think she will use "so much."

And in your sentence she said "Don't" which is an order so using "so" is better.

If she used "shouldn't" then "that much" would be better. I think that both are correct, but "so" is more accurate.

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    I agree; so works much better than this in the O.P.'s example. – J.R. Jan 9 '17 at 17:29
  • @J.R. Yes even if the mother is giving them an advice. – CatfishFTW Jan 9 '17 at 18:27
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I think that a more natural way to say that would probably be more like this:

Stop bothering him! He's got an important exam tomorrow.

The verb bother is a better fit here because one possible way to bother somebody is start talking with them when they're busy doing something.

If you still insist on using much, then consider this example:

Alright, I think that's enough of that! You guys are talking too much. Don't you know your brother's got an important exam tomorrow? So, leave him alone, go back to your room. He's got lots of work to do.

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To me, "this/that much", in this case, means "so much". Using one or the other is a matter of preference. The key issue is the nature of the "this/that" in your example. Should we consider it as an adverb modifying the adverb "much" or a demonstrative adjective as in: Cyanide is so highly poisonous that spies only need "this much" to end their lives. Note that, in my example, much is a pronoun, meaning a small amount. Other examples to consider: During the coldest days of winter, people don't go shopping "this much" vs. in the later months of the year, we will expect our sales to rise by "this much".

  • I'm not interested in securing the number of "reputations" required for posting my comments/answers because I simply do not have the time. I am only trying to divert your attention to the other meaning of "this much" which belongs to a different part of speech and which you appeared to have missed. – user69523 Feb 9 '18 at 8:21

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