What's up with that phrase "such a lot of friends", "such a lot of money" etc First of all, I've never heard it before, not in 30 years. Second of all, why isn't it "so a lot of friends" (sounds strange to me too, but makes more sense), since just like "much" (so much money), "a lot" is an adverb.. Please help me understand it.
"Such" can be a determiner like "so", but we use them differently, for example:
- So many people!
- Such a lot of people!
You'll notice in these two idiomatic phrases that "so" is used with the plural noun "people", whereas "such" is used with the singular collective noun "a lot". We would never say "such many" or "so a lot of", so really the choice of "such" and "so" is directly related to the noun or pronoun it precedes.
However, "so" can be used to emphasise an adjective, so you could easily rearrange a sentence to use either:
- That is such a great film!
- That film is so great!
In the first example, "such" is operating on the noun phrase "great film"; in the second example "so" is operating on the adjective "great" alone.