I'm looking for the opposite of using so followed by an adjective.

For example, if I say, "This place never looked so crowded", what would the opposite be ? Could it be something along the lines of one of those ?

  • This place never looked any less crowded (not sure that it translates the right idea)
  • This place never looked so little crowded (doesn't sound correct)
  • This place never looked so not crowded (seems clumsy)

And if the first one is right, how to use it without the negation, as the opposite of "This place is so crowded" ? Would "so not crowded" work better in this context ?


Since my question and my example seem to bring a lot of confusion, I'll try to explain it in an other way.

Saying "This place has never been so crowded" means that it currently is a lot more crowded than it has ever been.

Now what I'm trying to find is the contrary, a sentence that says that it currently is a lot less crowded than it has ever been. Saying "This place has never been so empty" works but I'm looking for a grammatical construct, not vocabulary.

For reference, in French the equivalent of what I'm looking for is "si peu" (Cet endroit n'a jamais été si peu bondé). I was just wondering if the same thing could be said in a similar way in English since I couldn't think of one but considering everyone's answer, I think there just isn't.

  • 5
    "This place never looked so empty?" What you're looking for is the opposite of "crowded," not the opposite of "so"
    – Esther
    May 31, 2022 at 15:54
  • Well, crowded was just an example, I actually want to know if there's a way to "unintensify" an adjective without using the opposite of said adjective. For reference, in French the equivalent of what I'm looking for is "si peu" (Cet endroit n'a jamais eu l'air si peu bondé)
    – Lucas
    May 31, 2022 at 15:58
  • 2
    in this case, "so" isn't quite an intensifier, it means "similar to the way it is now." "This place never looked so crowded" would be understood as "This place is not usually as crowded as it is right now." You would use "very" if you meant it as an intensifier here.
    – Esther
    May 31, 2022 at 16:00
  • 1
    There isn't really a way of saying what you are looking for without "empty." But to be clear: this sentence means that it usually is less crowded than now, not similarly crowded.
    – Esther
    May 31, 2022 at 16:21
  • 1
    @Lucas, why do you keep saying "usually"? "The place never looked so crowded" means that the place ALWAYS looked less crowded before, not that there are "usually" less people there. I think you need to make up your mind on what you're asking for.
    – cruthers
    Jun 1, 2022 at 3:35

4 Answers 4


After reading your comments, I think what you're looking for is:

"This place has never looked less crowded."

I can see why there is some confusion over this question, since it's hard to know what an "opposite" is in this context; furthermore, your example uses "looked" instead of the more simple "been," making the proposed solution sound awkward. Native speakers would probably phrase this another way (maybe using "emptier," as suggested) but I wanted to address your question directly.

In any case, what I've provided is obviously close to your first suggestion. I omitted the word "any," which isn't really wrong, but sounds (even more) awkward to me than the version without "any."

  • Doesn't your solution mean that the place is never less crowded than it is now ? I'm trying to find a way to say that it currently is a lot less crowded than it usually is. I hope you can get what I mean. And yes my example is confusing I guess, I was just trying to use "so" in a sentence but it ended up being a complicated one ahah!
    – Lucas
    May 31, 2022 at 21:15
  • @Lucas I'm even more confused now, as I'm looking at your comment above in which you say that you're looking to say that "at no point in the past, the amount of people in this place has been as low as it is now." That's what my solution means, and it's different from what you're now asking for.
    – cruthers
    May 31, 2022 at 21:50
  • Agree with @cruthers: "This place has never looked less crowded" can be an idiomatic way to emphasize a remarkable situation, equivalent to "This place has never looked so empty". It could also literally express (without the emphasis) that the number of people in the past has always appeared larger.
    – nschneid
    Sep 9 at 5:49

If I read your comments correctly...

  • "This place is so crowded!" she exclaimed, excited that so many people came to the party.

  • "Well, this place is crowded," she murmured, surprised that no one had come to the party.

There is not a grammatical construction or a set rule for reflecting the emotion of a written phrase. The burden of doing that is on you, the writer, and it's important for you to understand that burden, because...

  • "This place is so crowded!" she sneered, underwhelmed by the few people who came to the party.

The kind of emotional opposite or reflection you're looking for is quite easy to achieve with spoken English because the sound of the speaker's voice is part of the message — and that sound can convey a wide variety of emotions and/or intent. When you write, you need to replace the sound of the speaker's voice with words.

  • I was in fact looking for a grammatical construction out of curiosity, I'm not actually trying to write or describe such a situation. I just wondered whether there was an equivalent for the French "si peu"
    – Lucas
    May 31, 2022 at 20:49
  • There isn't - and if there are two languages that don't have easy equivalents, they're English and French 😁.
    – JBH
    May 31, 2022 at 21:16
  • 1
    Yes, I guess I'll just have to call it quits for this one. I usually find English grammatical constructions simpler than their translation in French but for once it seems that French has found an easier way of saying something ahah!
    – Lucas
    May 31, 2022 at 21:34

so is an intensifier adverb like very

  • so crowded, so nice, so pretty etc.

The opposite can be: Not so crowded, not so nice, not so pretty OR so uncrowded, so nasty and so unattrative

The place never looked so crowded. The place never looked so uncrowded.

The original phrases:

This place never looked any less crowded. Yes, meaning: always has looked this crowded.

This place never looked so little crowded (Not grammatical)

This place never looked so not crowded (young and informal use of "so").

He was so not ready to change jobs.

so+ not+ adjective: informal, recently created manner of speech.

  • "Uncrowded"? Really?
    – Joachim
    May 31, 2022 at 18:34
  • 1
    Merriam Webster: The famous subways were quiet … and relatively uncrowded. — John Hersey//Collins Dictionary: uncrowded: not full of people or traffic:
    – Lambie
    May 31, 2022 at 18:35
  • @Lambie When used as an intensifier, what would the difference in meaning be between "not so crowded" and "so not crowded"? Does the first one mean "not that much crowded" and the second one "very uncrowded"?
    – Lucas
    May 31, 2022 at 20:53
  • The difference is this: not so crowded means there is not so much of a crowed. "so not crowded" is colloquial English. He is no not rich. She is so not pretty. It is a recent form and not standard at all. But it is good to know it.
    – Lambie
    May 31, 2022 at 23:33
  • Okay, thanks, well I think that is what I was looking for, even though it is quite informal as you pointed out and there doesn't seem to be a more "correct" grammatical construction meant for that. I'll settle for this then!
    – Lucas
    Jun 1, 2022 at 9:02

Technically speaking, "this place has never looked so uncrowded" could be the opposite of that sentence.

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