7

There are 176 hits in COCA for [be] so much a part of, including the title and:

1- It actually is so much a part of life.
2- Law is so much a part of me, I don't think I'll ever be able to let loose of it.
3- The computer is so much a part of her sons' lives that they sometimes bring a laptop when they visit family in the East Bay.

Other similar examples from COCA:

4- it is so much a pleasure to have you here.
5- And your film is so much a woman's story, a young woman story.
6- I am so much my mother's child in that respect. I hear myself channeling her in so many ways.

Other examples from COCA featuring so alone:

7- I go to farmers' markets all the time. Field-to-table is so my thing.
8- Oh, yeah! This is so my type of wish!
9- "That is so fucking bizarre," she says. "But it 's so your mom."
10- Dude, try it. This is so the bomb.
11- If you want to hire me, this is so the wrong way to go about it.
12- even though she's dead tired and she's been up all night in labor, the minute her baby calls, she is so there.
13- He was so here, he pressed with impossible mass against the Earth.

[Be] so much a part of seems to be a special case, or even an idiom†, but I have more general questions:

1- What does so much modify in the sentences above? The verb be?‡
2- If yes, can be be freely modified by so much? If not, when exactly can be be modified by so much?
3- Why doesn't so alone work in [be] so a part of? (There are 2 hits for it in COCA (compare with the 176 mentioned above)) In other words, when exactly can be be modified by so alone?§


Note: In all the examples above, the predicative complements are noun phrases. I think things get more familiar and a lot easier to explain (for me at least) when the complement after so or so much is an adjective or something (but this post is not about that):

-Hi! You're so hot!
+Thanks! You're so much hotter than me!
-I'm so(/so much) in love with you!
+Wow! I'm so married to you!


You can see that the title and #3 have that after so much, #2 suggests that that, and #1 doesn't have the that. I'm not sure how big of a difference it makes in the meaning, or how relevant it is to my general concerns here.
Note that the verb be is modifiable.
§ One casual theory states that when the situation is gradable (or perceived as such) so much works better, and when it's non-gradable so may be fitter. Compare #2 to #10 for example. (or any of #1-#6 to any of #7-#13)

  • 1
    In "I'm so marrying you" and examples 7-11, 'so' is a synonym of 'really' or 'quite'. It feels a little novel, like someone is making up a new turn of phrase. Not ungrammatical but a new thing. – Mitch May 31 '16 at 16:14
  • @Mitch Do you suggest that I am so much my mother's child is an established or familiar use of so much? And that there is something different between that and I am so my mother's child? – Færd May 31 '16 at 18:59
  • Fard, yes I feel something different. "I am so tired" is perfectly standard. "I am so a child" (where it is synonymous with really) sounds like 'because science' or 'Knives are hurty', playing with syntax/morphology. But "I am so much my mother's child" sounds natural. (note "I am so a child" can mean with different intonation "I am too a child" – Mitch May 31 '16 at 19:09
  • 2
    Perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but I think so much tends to be used as a quantitative intensifier while so on its own tends to be used as a qualitative intensifier. This is evidenced by the combined phrase so much so. – Lawrence Jun 3 '16 at 2:08
6

The phrase so much is modifying the noun phrase a part of x in these examples. It isn't modifying the verb BE. We most often see this pattern when adverbs like so, too or as are modifying an adjective which in turn modifies a noun phrase:

  • so forceful a blow
  • too convenient an excuse
  • as brutal an attack

Notice that these adverbs can also modify the word much:

  • He was too much a part of us, to let anything bad happen to him
  • The lobbyists as much a part of the political system as the political parties themselves.

In the examples above they are being used with the noun phrase a part of X. However, we can use them with any noun phrase as appropriate:

  • He's too much a gentleman to be a scholar.
  • Fuseli's Macbeth is as much a hero as a villain.
  • Very well. +1. But, 1: Why can't we say that so (much) modifies the verb? 2: Your noun phrases are all of the form a X, which can be modified as you demonstrated, but what about noun phrases like my mother's child in "I'm so / so much my mother's child."? 3: I still don't understand why sometimes so fits and so much doesn't, or vice versa (my third question in the original post). Why can't we say "I'm so much here if you need me." or "Stories are so a part of our lives."? All I know is they don't feel right, but I can't analyze them. – Færd Jun 1 '16 at 18:10
  • 2
    There is confusion here between the modern use of so + noun (This is so the bomb) and so + noun (This is so my type of wish) Completely different from so much.It only began in the nineties and is spoken register. – Lambie Jun 4 '16 at 18:38
1

There's two totally different things going on there.

1)

"so much" is synonymous with "such", eg

"Law is so much a part of my life" = "Law is such a part of my life"

2)

Using "so" on it's own, as an intensifier (as in "I'm so marrying you!"), is a relatively modern informal (ie ungrammatical) usage, and is often used for comic effect, possibly because it is so ungrammatical.

  • What about "I am so much my mother's child in that respect."? Surely doesn't mean "I am such my mother's child in that respect.", and shows that these two aren't that different, because you can replace so much with so without a change in the meaning: "I am so my mother's child in that respect." – Færd May 31 '16 at 16:46
  • You're right, sorry: i suppose it varies depending on context. – Max Williams Jun 1 '16 at 7:24
0

Please feel free to edit this for corrections and further improvements of answers

Based on your sentences, the use of so and so much would be an intensifier of something that you are measuring despite the fact that they are uncountable. At a certain degree, these words are synonymous with each other.

so

would be synonymous to the word very

so much

as an adjective

is most often use in comparative form of verbs.

In that degree

To that extent.

as an adverb

So great in quantity, degree, or extent

Equivalent or equal in quantity, degree, or extent

links of references:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/so+much

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