Very/so

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Daab

Senior Member
Korean
On his journey, Stripe saw a group of caterpillars crawling up a huge pillar rising into the air. Curious, Stripe asked, "Why are all those caterpillars trying to get to the top? What's up there?" "I don't know," said one of the crawlers. "Neither do I," replied another. "But it must be something good because everybody's going there." Stripe decided to join them. Everyone was trying so hard to get to the top. At first, Stripe was pushed and kicked, and soon he began pushing and kicking too.


The paragraph is from a textbook. Can I change so with very?
 
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  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Trying very hard is a very objective and calculating comment.
    Trying so hard is more subjective, more emotional, and suggests to me, at least, a greater degree of effort than "very hard".
     

    Daab

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The textbook says very can't be used there. Is it true?

    And I know that you can use only so in the following sentence: Everyone was trying so hard that he or she could go to the top.

    Are you using so in the sentence mentioned right above and the one where I raised a question because you have a certain level of subjective expectation of how much so is?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The textbook says very can't be used there. Is it true?
    No. The textbook is wrong. It is quite possible to use "very" in that sentence, rather than "so". As I suggested above, changing from "so" to "very" would remove some of the emotional content.
    And I know that you can use only so in the following sentence: Everyone was trying so hard that he or she could go to the top.
    You're right about this. Here you have a slightly different use of "so". It's using "so" in a different construction.

    In the first example, "so" is part of an intensifier.
    Everyone is trying so hard == Everyone is trying very hard.

    In the second example, "so" is part of a standard construction, "so hard that", that compares this level of effort with some other level of effort.
     
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