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Subject:Grammar: "So" as a modifier? (take II) From:Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca> To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Fri, 07 Oct 2005 12:41:37 -0400
Sankara R responded to my comment that so functions "either as an
adverb ("are so X", where "so" modifies the "are")": <<beg to disagree.
Look at these: We were so worried. [I believe there is an implied 'that
we nearly called the cops'] He is so funny ['that it surprised me when
he quoted karl marx] she is so sexy ['that your chances are thin']>>
I didn't intend my response to be comprehensive; it was primarily
adverbial uses of "so" that the original poster was wondering about, so
<g> there are other possibilities. That being said:
<<Definitely not modifying was, were, or any be-verb: in that case it
would be 'you _are_ a funny bird' or whatever.>>
Editors often disagree over parts of speech, since it's often possible
to parse a sentence in more than one way... witness your examples.
But if you delete the word "so" from your examples, you'll see that the
sentence still makes sense. That means that even if your ellipsis (the
implied "so that") is possible, it's not the most likely interpretation
because it relies on a very large assumption about the meaning; none of
your assumed meanings are obvious without seeing much more context, and
that suggests sloppy writing, not skilled use of implicit completion of
the sentence. For that reason, the more straightforward interpretation
is that "so" is simply adverbial, as can be seen if you substitute
"very", "really", or any other appropriate adverb: it's the function of
the word, not its meaning, that determines its part of speech.
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