In the following sentences "so" acts as an intensifier for the subsequent adjectives.

  1. This car is so expensive. (okay)
  2. This so expensive car is John's car. (bad)

Can we determine that "so" cannot be used to modify an adjective modifying the subject of a sentence?

  1. This car is so expensive. (okay)
  2. I ate a so expensive pizza. (bad)

Can we determine that "so" cannot be used in conjunction with a transitive verb/object noun?

As far as I understand, "so" used as an adjective intensifier must be used with a copula verb and cannot be used to intensify a subject-modifying adjective. Are these the exhaustive rules or are there other outlying examples?

  • 1
    I would argue that your version (1) is only OK if it is part of a longer sentence that mentions a consequence of the car being so expensive, such as "This car is so expensive, that I don't see how anybody can afford it."
    – Jasper
    Mar 16, 2017 at 11:44
  • Another question asked about "You are so offended."
    – Jasper
    Mar 16, 2017 at 11:55
  • @Jasper Or if it was an exclamation. "This car is so expensive!" Mar 16, 2017 at 19:58
  • @DavidSchwartz -- As I argued in the linked post, the same grammar rule applies to both sentences and exclamations.
    – Jasper
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:39
  • 2
    The apple pie tasted so good. This computer is out-of-date. (Webster). We can use so + adjective on its own in informal English.
    – Khan
    Mar 19, 2017 at 16:51

2 Answers 2


Use so with adjectives or adverbs alone.
They always finish so quickly.
The movie was so bad that I left halfway through.

When you're modifying nouns or noun phrases, use such (a).
Such bad jokes will probably offend somebody.
I've always considered him such a thoughtless guy.

Therefore, since a subject has to be a noun/noun phrase/noun clause, etc., it is very unlikely that you'll see so modifying the subject.

  1. This is so expensive.

  2. This car is so expensive.

3 This so expensive car is John's car.

  1. I ate a so expensive pizza.

The sentences #1 and #2 are grammatical.

As for the #3 and #4, they are not grammatical. You don't use so + adjective + noun. You can rephrase these sentences as follows:

This is John's car that's so expensive.

I ate such an expensive pizza or I ate a pizza that's so expensive.


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