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In the following question, why can’t answer three be the right answer to fill in the blank? The correct answer is supposed to be choice one.

The new skyscraper was ____________ the buildings around it look like dollhouses.

  1. so tall that it made
  2. so tall and it therefore making
  3. so tall, making
  4. tall so much because it made
  5. this tall, it made
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  • (C) is incorrect because the new skyscraper was so tall that it made the buildings around look like dollhouses. Jan 11, 2014 at 13:35
  • The building was very tall, making... would be good English: presumably this is what OP is thinking of. Jan 11, 2014 at 15:01

2 Answers 2

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Despite its common use as an intensifier

  • I'm so irritated at him!

so is actually the first part of a so...that equative construction, and takes a that complement.

The intensifier usage is just a matter of dropping a complement describing an outcome.
Since there are many expressions available, dropping it causes no loss of information.

  • I'm so irritated at him that I'm getting a migraine/I can't stand it/I'll kill him.

The point to remember is it's the so...that construction,
so it requires (or invites) a tensed that-complement clause
(that can get deleted, so make sure there's a subject and a tensed verb phrase in the complement).

That would be #1.
#3 contains no that, no subject, and no tense (gerunds are untensed);
ergo, not a tensed clause.

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Well, if you're using "it made the buildings around it look like dollhouses" as a description of how tall the building was, you have to use "so" with a finite verb: so tall that it made, or just so tall it made.

If you say The new skyscraper was so tall, making the buildings around it look like dollhouses, you're making two separate statements. First, you're saying that the new skyscraper was so tall ("so tall" here would be a somewhat informal way of saying "astonishingly tall"), and second, you're saying that the skyscraper made the buildings around it look like dollhouses.

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