Originally people said things like, “I was so delighted with the wrapping that I couldn’t bring myself to open the package.” But then they began to lazily say, “You made me so happy,” no longer explaining just how happy that was. This pattern of using “so” as a simple intensifier meaning “very” is now standard in casual speech, but is out of place in formal writing, where “very” or another intensifier works better. Without vocal emphasis, the “so” conveys little in print.
This is the ten-year anniversary of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.
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