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A friend of mine asserts that the phrase

Why did you love me so much?

can be rewritten as

Why did you so love me?

The meaning of the latter is clear, but is it grammatically correct, strictly speaking? In this case, I am unsure if the word so properly corresponds to the intensity of the word love.

  • I'm fairly sure this has been answered here before, but (a) Your friend is right (and 'Why did you love me so?' is another alternative) / (b) It would only be used in archaic / poetic / lovey-dovey registers. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 16 '17 at 2:48
  • There is also the modern introduction of what I'd consider an as yet non-standard usage of so + verb, with many verbs being possible: 'I am so going to get you back' (= I'm going to get you back, make no mistake!); 'You are so going to Korea' (again, it's a foregone conclusion); 'He so takes me for granted'.... – Edwin Ashworth Feb 16 '17 at 2:56
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I think there is a subtle difference. The word 'so' means manner or degree. This overlaps with the meaning of 'so much', but the two are not equivalent. The phrase 'so much' implies a degree, amount, or extent, but it never suggests manner.

Consider the verse from the Bible, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son..." This verse could imply quantity of love (extent) or it could imply manner of love (charity). The word 'so' invites more interpretations than the phrase 'so much'.

Another example. "Why did you say so?" versus "Why did you say so much?" The two are clearly not equivalent. They mean very different things. Thus, I would caution you against thinking the phrase 'so much' to be interchangeable with the adverb 'so'. There is some overlap, but many differences.

In this respect, I do not think your two sentences are equivalent. I also think your first sentence is much more idiomatic than your second. I would go with that one.

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It's correct but could be interpreted slightly differently depending on how one says it. Also, don't forget about

Why did you love me so?

In your second example,

Why did you so love me?

you really need to put emphasis on the "so" in order for it to be understand as a magnitude or "intensity" of love, which in your first case,

Why did you love me so much?

there word "much" conveys.

In the example I stated one would probably put the emphasis on "why", and it's implicit that you are asking about the way they loved, whether intense or not.

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