Hermione let out a great sigh and Harry, amazed, saw that she was smiling, the very last thing he felt like doing.
"Brilliant," said Hermione. "This isn't magic –– it's logic –– a puzzle. A lot of the greatest wizards haven't got an ounce of logic, they'd be stuck in here forever."
"But so will we, won't we?"
"Of course not," said Hermione. "Everything we need is here on this paper. Seven bottles: three are poison; two are wine; one will get us safely through the black fire, and one will get us back through the purple."
"But how do we know which to drink?"
"Give me a minute."
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

How do you call ‘so’ in grammatical terms?


It's an adverb. It indicates the ellipsis of a verb phrase:

[...] [T]hey'd be stuck in here forever.

But so will we, won't we?

The adverb so refers back to be stuck in here forever. If we expand the ellipsis and put the words in proper order, we get the following:

But we will be stuck in here forever, won't we?

To make the expanded sentence into natural English, we should do two things:

  1. contract we will to we'll to maintain the level of formality; and
  2. insert too to maintain the semantic link to the previous sentence.

We end up with this sentence, roughly equivalent to the original:

But [we'll] be stuck in here forever [too], won't we?

See Hatakeyama, et al. (2010) for further discussion.

  • If anyone wants to write a more detailed answer, it might be helpful to contrast with neither.
    – user230
    Aug 14 '13 at 3:28
  • Hatakeyama, et al. (2010) ‘s note 5 is somewhat strange. For Huddleston and Pullum (2002)’s says this ‘so’ is “connective adjunct”. (p.1539) But your words, “semantic link” remind me of why they are calling the ‘so’ connective adjunct. So for them ‘so’ is the semantic link and after the inver-sion of auxiliary and subject there are ellipses.
    – Listenever
    Aug 14 '13 at 4:27

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