grammatical expression: so much for

so-much-for--source

Today, I have another common expression that English speakers use in casual conversations: “so much for”. It is used when we want to say that something we were expecting to happen will not happen. It can also be used to indicated that something we thought was true is not true. For example:

It’s just started to rain! So much for our picnic!

The prime minister just announced a tax increase! So much for his promises not to raise taxes!

I just got laid off at work! So much for buying a new house this year!

A: Bill made a huge mistake and lost the company one of our biggest clients!

B: Well, so much for the promotion he was supposed to get.

The Shepherds only had two successful songs, and then the band broke up. So much for all the predictions that they would become as successful as the Beatles.

When we use this expression, the feeling is usually either neutral or negative. If someone uses this when they feel happy about the situation, it sounds as if they are gloating. So, in the fourth example, if the person who says “so much for the promotion he was supposed to get” is happy that Bill made a mistake, it sounds like that person either doesn’t like Bill or is in line for the same promotion.

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4 Comments »

  1. Motoko Nakano Said:

    Dear Mr Cadman

    I knew this blog from your notice on mixi about a month ago and since then I’ve been a big fan of your blog.It’s the first time to leave some comments though,I ‘ve been thinking I want to say THANK YOU!! Because your explanations are always simple ,your example sentenses are far better than my dictionary to imagine the situations and the notices after the examples make my comprehension deeper.Above all,I’m impressed with your enthusiasm for teaching English.
    Now,I’d like to ask about today’s expression’so much for’.I’ve never heard of this before.First,I’m not sure the intonation and the feeling of the person who is saying this.In the first example,are SO and PICNIC stressed?And his or her feeling is ‘That’s too bad!!We were supposed to go on a picnic><' or 'Oh!No!We have to change our plan.' or something like that?
    I think I understand the meaning.I just want to confirm how to use.The word(s) next to FOR should be a noun,pronoun,-ing formed verb etc that is missed or would be missed because of changing of the situation,right?I'll try to write some examples to make sure.

    Damn it! The line was cut! So much for my big fish for dinner.

    Our new product is a smash hit!We can't keep up with production.So much for my summer holidays supposed to be longer than last year.

    I guess you must be busy.So if you have a spare time,could you please give me some comments?Thank you.

    Sincerely
    Motoko Nakano

    • Hello Ms. Nakano.

      Thank you very much for writing in with your kind words. I really appreciate the feedback. You have some very good questions about “so much for”. As for the intonation, you’re right: “so” and “picnic” would have to be stressed. The feeling of the expression really depends on the way the person says it. If they have a flat intonation, it’s like “that’s too bad”. If they really stress “picnic”, it sounds like they are very disappointed and frustrated about having to change their plans.

      The word next to “for” should be a noun, an object pronoun (him, her, that, etc) or a gerund (-ing form).

      Your first example about the fish for dinner was perfect! The second example is a little too complicated for this expression; it’s better to simplify it. For example:

      Our new product is a smash hit! We can’t keep up with production. So much for my longer summer holiday this year.

      You could also say:

      My summer holiday was supposed to be longer than last year’s. Well, so much for that.

      I hope that helps you!

      Take care.

      Mike

  2. Thanks for clarifying that expression! I have been hearing it a lot on the Dexter series, and wasn’t sure enough about its meaning.

    Could one say that the expression shows disappointment after trying something and failing to obtain a desired result? As in “so much effort for this failure”.

    • Hi there.

      I think there is a bit of a sense of disappointment at not achieving the desired result, but that would depend on how the person says it. Generally, I think the sense is that we didn’t get what we wanted and that there’s nothing to be done about it.

      I hope that helps you.

      Mike


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