Learn English – “You are all {so/such} wonderful friends.” Which is more correct


In a kangarou English exam, one of the questions asked you to fill in a blank space in a sentence:

You are all ……… wonderful friends

What is more correct to use to fill in the blank space, "so" or "such"?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary web page "Such or so?", from English Grammar Today, so is used when it is followed by an adjective and such is used when it is followed by a noun phrase.

The word wonderful, which follows the blank space, is an adjective, so I presume that the grammatically correct answer is so. However, my intuition is telling me otherwise.

In the above context, which is more correct, so or such?

Furthermore, can you please explain to me why the particular one is correct, as I believe that such a grammatical rule will help many people avoid syntax errors.

Best Answer

so is used, when it is followed by an adjective and such is used when it is followed, by a noun phrase.

That sounds about right. Although it would be more accurate to say "modifies" or "applies to" rather than "is followed by". A word can apply that an entire phrase, not just the immediately following word. For instance, they give the example "She is such a great cook." "such" modifies the entire noun phrase "a great cook", not just the word "a".

So using "so" would force the following parsing: "you are (so wonderful) friends". That is, "so" modifies the adjective "wonderful", and the phrase "so wonderful", as a whole, modifies "friends". "such", on the other hand, would force the parsing "you are such (wonderful friends)". That is, "wonderful" modifies "friends", and then those two words together make up a noun phrase, and that entire noun phrase is modified by "such".

I find the latter more idiomatic.