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What is the difference between so, very, extremely and really? For example,

We're so/very/extremely/really glad you could come!

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3 Answers 3

Here so is an extra amplifier and can be used with or without one of the others, as in "We're so very glad you came".

The others have different literal meanings: a high level of gladness; a maximum level of gladness; and a truthful level of gladness. But in practice the effect of each is much the same.

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According to the dictionary, 'really' and 'so' can mean 'very', what's their subtle difference? For example, "He is very/so/really tall. –  atsea Nov 4 '11 at 1:55
    
I'd add that all of those could be used to indicate sarcasm, given the right pronounciation. "so" and "really" are probably more likely to be used in that way than the other two. –  Joachim Sauer Nov 4 '11 at 8:09

In my opinion:

so < very < really < extremely

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1  
I'm not sure I agree, a lot depends on tone of voice, the situation, and what word you are intensifying. For example, for maximum effect, if I was standing in front of the Grand Canyon I may remark It's so big. Saying it's really big would have less impact, especially if I were to prolong the vowel. Sooooo big. –  ghoppe Nov 4 '11 at 18:18

From my point of view, the difference between so and very is that:

  • when we say so, it makes one anticipate that something follows, although it's not always the case,
  • and we use very to clarify the sentences that we tell to somebody, it would give some lingering to the sentence.
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I'm afraid I still don't understand the difference you're trying to point out. –  aedia λ Mar 28 '13 at 21:47

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