I'm aware than we can use so after some verbs instead of repeating an object clause, especially in short answers. The verbs we do this with most are: appear, assume, believe, expect, guess, etc. A typical sentence of this type would be:

-Are you having a party tomorrow?

-I guess so

My question is as follows: Can we use so in a similar way in a combination with other kinds of verbs? For example, with: plan, consider, etc? Like in the following example:

-Are you having a presentation on Friday?

-I`m planning so


-Are you moving to NY next year?

-I'm considering so

2 Answers 2


[CONVENTION: In my answer when I say Verb Phrase or in short VP, I mean a verb attached with an auxiliary verb (if any) along with its complements and modifiers.]

The word - so - as used in your question is a Pro-form. A pro-form, as you must know, substitutes a string of words or a single word. Not only that it can even substitute a whole clause or a phrase.

Generally in Verb Phrase structure the Pro-form - so - substitutes complements. Various word categories can form a complement. It can be a phrase (a Noun Phrase, an Adjective Phrase, an Adverb Phrase, a Preposition phrase etc), a finite clause or even a non-finite clause.

We are planning to visit Goa next month. [Marked in italics the complement here is a non-finite clause, a to-infinitive clause introduced by the subordinator to.]

I expect that everything is going to be alright soon. [Marked in italics the complement here is a finite clause, introduced by a subordinator that.]

I like him and she likes the way I get attention from the crowd. [Marked in italics the complements here are Noun Phrases.]

Please don't treat [him] [badly]. [Marked in italics. Here there are two complements, marked by third brackets. One complement is a Noun Phrase and the other complement is an adverb.]

We remain hopeful of your success. [Marked in italics the complement here is an adjective phrase.]

The Pro-form - so - can substitute complements formed by most of clauses and phrases.

Were they sad to see you? I think so. [so here substitutes a finite clause, introduced by the subordinator - that they were sad to see me.]

A large percentage of school-age students were overweight, or at the risk of becoming so. [so here substitutes an Adjective Phrase headed by an adjective - overweight.]

The two had become friends, the closest of friends, and remained so. [so here substitutes a Noun Phrase - the closest of friends.]

I can't ride that thing. Oh come on! You can so. [Here so substitutes a Verb Phrase (VP) - ride that thing. Notice that in this VP that so substitutes the auxiliary verb is not included. I believe this kind of substitution that so offers here is only limited to Spoken English or in Fictions where real-life speech is imitated. This is very colloquial. You are not going to find any other auxiliary verb to work with so, the way can so is used.]

It, however, can't substitute complements formed by some clauses or phrases. For example generally it can't substitute a to-infinitive complement or a Gerund-Participle clause as complement, or an Adverb Phrase as complement.

Are you moving to NY next year?

I'm considering so [INCORRECT]

Verbs whose complements can be substituted by so are -

Think, Guess, die, Look, Feel, Become etc.

N.B - The verb - like - is not among the verbs whose complement can be substituted by so. Yet you probably can find similar sentences and they are correct -

Then you add your tomato, like so.

like so here is a set expression, meaning in this manner.

All the quoted sentences with so in your question are correct, except the one with consider so.

  • 1
    I think you're on the right track; but I think you'll find that in this S-V-so construction so only refers to finite complements, not infinitivals, gerundials or participials. In effect, only verbs which take that clauses qualify, and not all of those: confirm, doubt, realise, resent don't--and neither does consider in the sense in which OP uses it. See CGEL, Ch.17,§7.7,1534-40. Feb 5, 2017 at 19:08
  • @StoneyB Thank you for the reference. Actually I was looking for some sort of reference from the very beginning. I will surely look into it and edit my answer. Feb 6, 2017 at 1:07

The answer is no: with consider and plan you cannot use so as you use it in: I guess so.

Please note: so here is the same as: I guess I will.

VERSUS: I'm planning to and I'm considering it.

This list of verbs takes so: appear, assume, believe, expect, guess,think,seem (partial list), look (one meaning of look)

These are not "action" verbs. They are verbs of expectation or belief.

Plan and consider are action verbs.

/So/ can stand for the auxiliary in many cases.

Do you think so? I think I do.

Did you or would you think so?- I thought I did or I thought I would

Have you thought so? I thought I have or had

Will you think so tomorrow? I think I will.

I will pass on providing any heavy grammar. That doesn't really help an ELL.

Whoops, I forgot the negative: I don't think so = I don't think I go. I didn't think so = I didn't think I did. It doesn't seem so =It doesn't seem it did.

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