I found the following sentence in an American novel (this one: here you can read the whole paragraph). A woman broke her wrist and just had her cast removed. She thinks she can start playing piano again, but her wrist still hurts too much. I'm not sure I understand the meaning of the final sentence:

But a body can only heal so much, so fast.

Can someone help me, please?


If you look up so in a dictionary you will see that some meanings are "to the extent" or "to such an extent/degree." In fact so much has its own entry at wiktionary.

"Only so much so fast" is a limiting expression; the implication is that the body can heal some amount and no more in a set amount of time and no less. The character is expressing resignation/acceptance of her situation: she would rather be fully healed but knows it is unrealistic to expect that so soon after her accident.

"So much" can also mean "to a great extent" as in the phrase "My, you've grown so much since I last saw you!" Its a very versatile phrase.

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