Here is my feeling, but I am not sure I am right

I would say "so much" is used for positive words such as "love, like" & "so badly or so bad" is used for words that are selfish such as "want, need"

Ex: I love it so much

I like it so much

I want it so bad/ so badly

I need it so bad/ so badly

I seldom hear people say:

Ex: I love it so bad/ so badly

I like it so bad/ so badly

I want it so much

I need it so much

When to use "so much" & when to use "so bad" or "so badly"?

I would appreciate if you provided "referenced source" to your answers.


Seriously speaking both:

  • I like/love it so bad
  • I like/love it so badly

Sound really strange to me. Bad and Badly just don't sound okay with the words "like" or "love".

In the meaning of "very intensively, so much" the phrases given below sound fine to me:

  • I want it so badly
  • I need it so badly

I often hear people say:

  • I want it so much
  • I need it so much

They are both definitely correct and there's nothing wrong with them.

A good explanation is here: http://data.grammarbook.com/blog/definitions/bad-vs-badly/

The word bad is an adjective used to modify nouns and pronouns. Example: She was in a bad accident.

Adverbs often end in ly. The word badly is an adverb that answers how about the verb. Example: She was hurt badly in the accident.

The confusion comes with four of the sense verbs: taste, look, smell, and feel. When we use these verbs actively, we should follow them with adverbs. (Hear is always used actively.) When we use these verbs descriptively, we should follow them with adjectives. Examples: I feel bad about having said that. I am not feeling with fingers in the above example; I am describing my state of mind, so the adjective is used (no ly).

  • the link does not mention "why can not use 'so bad' with 'love/like'" – Tom Feb 17 '17 at 12:30

so is just an intensifier in this context, and it goes with either.

much is the simpler word, expressing mere degree.

badly is more complicated. When coupled with a verb that has to do with physical sensations or emotional feelings, badly casts the sensation or feeling as something physically painful or causing psychological distress. If the verb phrase admits the notion of physical pain or psychological distress of some kind, such as a painful yearning, badly can be used.

My sprained knee hurts so much!

She wanted that political victory so much.

He wanted her so much.

My sprained knee hurts so badly!

She wanted that political victory so badly.

He wanted her so badly.

Here are some verbs relating to emotion which do not admit the notion of physical pain or emotional distress, and so badly in the sense of to a painful or distressing degree does not work with them; the meaning of the verb and the meaning of the adverbial phrase are inimical to each other:

I liked her so badly. not idiomatic

I trusted her so badly. not idiomatic

I respected them so badly. not idiomatic

But as soon as we add even the slightest hint of yearning, it begins to work:

I looked forward to their visit so badly.marginal


Of course, badly can also mean "not achieving a good or acceptable result".

She did so badly in the election.

He did so badly on the chemistry exam.

The party was doing so badly in the polls.

But that meaning is not germane to the question of deciding between much and badly when expressing degree.

  • Your answer is interesting, but could you provide a referenced source? I need to a source to teach my students – Tom Feb 18 '17 at 16:09
  • Tom, this is very elementary stuff. If you want a source, you'll have to dig it up yourself. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 18 '17 at 16:14

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