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So or such

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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So or such

Postby Katrin » Thu Sep 09, 2004 6:12 am

Hello,

Which is correct:
they are such kind people;
or they are so kind people

Such kind people sounds odd to me, but may be it is correct.
What is the rule, because the dictionary gives an example "they are so nice children" making it possible to say they are so kind people. Is it because of the plurality of the noun? The rule does state that such is used before nouns and so before adjectives and adverbs. Could you indicate the correct use and the rule.

Looking forward to your reply.

Katrin
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Postby Alan » Thu Sep 09, 2004 11:27 am

Katrin

I don't know which dictionary you're referring to, but I can assure you that the phrase *so nice children is not English! Are you sure that you're correctly remembering what is written?

Anyhow, the answer to your question is that 'such' is the correct form to modify an attributive adjective (i.e. one occurring directly before a noun, as in such nice people), while adverbial 'so' may modify only predicative adjectives (as in Those people are so nice).
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So and such and as

Postby Katrin » Thu Sep 09, 2004 5:36 pm

Hi again,

I agree to "such kind people". Is it still such in the following sentence (that I should have asked initially and that confused me):

I've never met so/such kind people as your family.

even if a simile is used? I would still use so here because of the simile that follows "so...as". Am I still wrong? :oops:
The sentence I have in my dictionary is: "I've never been to so expensive a restaurant" (=such an expensive restaurant) before. (Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, first published in 1995.)

Looking forward to your reply.

Katrin
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Postby Alan » Thu Sep 09, 2004 11:16 pm

Yes, even with a following as-clause only 'such' is correct when modifying an attributive adjective, as in

I have never met SUCH kind people (as they are).

I had never encountered SUCH a terrible problem (as this was).

and so forth.

However, where the noun is singular and countable, it is usually considered more elegant to change the construction to one with a preposed predicative adjective, so that the second sentence above would become

I had never encountered SO terrible a problem (as this was).

(a rearrangement of '...a problem (that was) so terrible...').

This is the only case where 'so' can modify an adjective that appears to be preceding its noun.
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