So vs. Very

What's the Difference?

"So" and "very" are both adverbs that are used to intensify the meaning of an adjective or another adverb. However, "so" is typically used to indicate a high degree or extent of something, while "very" is used to simply emphasize the intensity of a quality or action. For example, one might say "I am so tired" to convey a strong sense of exhaustion, whereas saying "I am very tired" would simply emphasize the level of fatigue without necessarily indicating an extreme level. Overall, both words serve a similar purpose in adding emphasis to a statement, but "so" tends to convey a stronger sense of intensity compared to "very."


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IntensityEmphasizes a high degreeEmphasizes a high degree
UsageUsed before adjectives or adverbsUsed before adjectives or adverbs
InformalityConsidered more informalConsidered more formal
EmphasisEmphasizes the extreme nature of somethingEmphasizes the extreme nature of something
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Further Detail


When it comes to expressing intensity or degree in English, two common adverbs that are often used are "so" and "very." While both words serve a similar purpose, they have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the differences between "so" and "very" in terms of usage, intensity, and impact on the overall tone of a sentence.


One of the key differences between "so" and "very" lies in their usage. "So" is typically used before adjectives or adverbs to emphasize the degree or extent of something. For example, you might say, "I am so happy" to convey a high level of happiness. On the other hand, "very" is also used to intensify adjectives or adverbs, but it is more commonly used in formal writing or speech. For instance, you could say, "I am very happy" to express a similar level of happiness in a more formal context.


Another important aspect to consider when comparing "so" and "very" is the level of intensity they convey. "So" is often seen as more emphatic and intense compared to "very." When you use "so," it adds a sense of urgency or extreme emotion to the statement. For example, saying "I am so tired" implies a higher level of exhaustion than saying "I am very tired." On the other hand, "very" is considered a milder intensifier that simply enhances the meaning of the adjective or adverb without adding as much emphasis as "so."

Impact on Tone

The choice between "so" and "very" can also have an impact on the overall tone of a sentence. Using "so" tends to create a more informal or colloquial tone, making the statement sound more casual and conversational. In contrast, using "very" can make the sentence sound more formal or polite, especially in written communication. Consider the difference between saying "I am so grateful for your help" and "I am very grateful for your help." The former has a more personal and emotional tone, while the latter sounds more reserved and polite.


To further illustrate the differences between "so" and "very," let's look at some examples:

  • "I am so excited to see you!"
  • "The movie was very entertaining."
  • "She is so talented at playing the piano."
  • "He is very dedicated to his work."
  • "The food was so delicious that I couldn't stop eating."
  • "The presentation was very informative and well-prepared."


In conclusion, while both "so" and "very" are used to intensify adjectives and adverbs, they have distinct attributes that affect the tone and intensity of a sentence. "So" is more emphatic and informal, while "very" is milder and often used in formal contexts. Understanding the differences between these two adverbs can help you choose the right word to convey the desired level of intensity and tone in your writing or speech.

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