I just want to know that why I can't use "very" in this sentence instead of "so":

"She became very frustrated with the lack of feedback from her boss that she decided to look for another job."

In my opinion, "so" and "very" both have the same meaning, don't they?

  • 1
    So and very might have a similar meaning, but that doesn't mean that they'll have the same usage. For example, "That's so not fair" or "That's not very fair" are common, but "That's very not fair" is not. Jun 27, 2014 at 13:33
  • 1
    @DamkerngT. Also, your first two examples have different meanings. "That's so not fair" it's extremely unfair; "That's not very fair" means only that it's somewhat unfair. Jun 27, 2014 at 16:50
  • @DavidRicherby Couldn't agree more. I was too focused on the patterns and overlooked that. Thanks! Jun 27, 2014 at 16:59

3 Answers 3


Your quoted sentence doesn't make sense.

If you write

  1. He became very frustrated that his boss appraised him wrongly and it affected his career.

It would make sense, and it would mean "Because of his boss's wrong appraisal his career is being affected. And that's why he is frustrated."

So...that is a set expression.

Example -

  1. He became so frustrated that he started to look for a new job.

Now consider sentence 1 and sentence 2. While sentence 1 states the reason of your frustration, sentence 2 states what you did because of it.

Places where so can be replaced by very

  1. He is so/very angry about the way the event unfolded.

Your sentence -

She became so frustrated with the lack of feedback from her boss that she decided to look for another job.

What is the cause of her frustration - The lack of feedback from her boss.

And effect - She decided to look for another job.

  • You could even write "She became so very frustrated with the lack of feedback from her boss that she decided to look for another job," and it would still be correct.
    – Catherine
    Jun 27, 2014 at 18:38

in that sentense so indicates a personal opinion. it is more wishy washy. whereas very is more clear and straight forward. you can use either one depending when and where you want to say it.


Usually, very tells us "to a significant extent/degree" (in the opinion of the speaker).

On the other hand, so tells us "to such an extent/degree", and originally meant something like "in this manner". When used as you did ("She became so frustrated..."), there's usually a following phrase with "that" (a subordinate clause) explaining the extent.

A good example is a common joke you can sometimes hear on TV or comedy routines. Someone says "My brother is so stupid." and the audience yells "How stupid is he??". The joke finishes "He's so stupid that he showed his ID when he bought root beer.".

Sometimes so may be used in a phrase such as "That wasn't so hard.", again meaning "to such an extent". The meaning is like "That wasn't as hard as you thought.".

In modern speech people often say things like "I'm so tired." to mean "I'm very tired.", but there's a feeling of an unspoken situation which could be true because of how tired the speaker is, as in "I'm so tired that I could sleep while riding a roller coaster.".

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