Yo' Momma... The Uses of "So" and "So That" [55-Minute Lesson]


Written by Rae Hill


So bright!


 I. Warm-up

A. Noticing

Directions: What do all these sentences have in common?

1. This book is so good that I can't put it down! 

2. He moved back home so that he could help his elderly mother.

3. I am so hungry! I could eat a moose!

4. She was so angry that she burnt up all his clothes! 

B. Pre-reading vocabulary

Directions: Try to match the following words with their definitions. 


a. wit (n.)

b. sensational (adj.)

c. desensitized (adj.)

d. graphic (adj.)

e. subtle (adj.)

f. fair game (adj.)

g. solidify (v.)

h. off limits (adj.)

i. repartee (n.) 


1. Describing something that is not obvious; only possible to understand by paying close attention.

2. To make firm, unlike a gas or a liquid.

3. Intelligence; astuteness.

4. Describing something that is vivid; describing something that gives a clear picture of violence and sex. 

5. Producing a strong reaction; affecting all of one's senses. 

6. Describing something that is not permitted; unacceptable. 

7. Describing someone who is unfeeling towards something as a result of being exposed to that thing a lot.  

8. Describing something that is permitted; allowed to be targetted. (Literally, allowed to be hunted).  

9. A quick, witty, reply. 

II. Reading

A. Text 

There is nothing new about fighting with words. For as long as anyone can remember, verbal repartee has been a way of demonstrating one’s witFor example, prior to the opening of his new play, the playwright George Bernard Shaw sent a telegram to the English Prime Minister Winston Churchill that read “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.” Churchill replied, “I cannot possibly attend the first night; I will attend the second, if there is one”.    

Today, many people feel that the art of the insult has been lost. The search for the most sensational experiences has led to desensitized populations. It is estimated that the average American child has seen 8,000 murders on television by the time he or she finishes elementary school. By the time the average American reaches the age of 18 years old he or she has watched approximately 200,000 violent acts. People think nothing of watching brutal, graphic, images of violence. This cultural demand for more of everything, bigger, and louder, has created a demand for ever more shocking and offensive insults. Instead of being subtle and clever, insults are now scandalous, and aimed at hitting opponents where it hurts the most. Topics previously considered to be off-limits, like the rival’s family members, are now fair game. Thus, the “yo’ momma” joke was born. 

In the 1990’s the practice of insulting someone by insulting his or her mother solidified into the “yo’ momma” (slang for “your mother”) joke, in which two people would try to say the most offensive things possible about the other’s mother. Read some of the following examples:  

-Yo' momma's so ugly that every time she gets the mail animal control is called. 

-Yo' momma's so clumsy that she tripped over a chordless phone. 

-Yo' momma's so poor that she can't afford to pay attention.

-Yo' momma's so stupid that she thought that a quarterback was a 25 cent refund.  

-Yo' momma's so old that she farts dust. 

-Yo' momma's so classless that she could be a marxist utopia


B. Comprehension questions 

1. How is what George Bernard Shaw wrote to Winston Churchill insulting? What did his note imply?

2. How is what Churchill wrote Shaw insulting? What did his note imply?

3. How are Americans desensitized? 

4. True or false: It has always been acceptable to insult someone's family members. 

5. How has television changed American culture?   

C. Grammar questions

Directions: Are you good at insulting people? Invent some "Yo' momma" jokes:

1. Yo' momma's so stupid...

2. Yo' momma's so fat...

3. Yo' momma's so lazy...

4. Yo' momma's so vain... 

5. Yo' momma's so ...


III. Grammar Explanation

The word "so" can be used several ways.

1.    “So” can be a conjunction. It can indicate that one action causes another action. In this case we use the form: “(first action=cause), so (second action=result)”.


1st action: He stayed up all night.

2nd action: He fell asleep in class.

Together: He stayed up all night, so he fell asleep in class.        


1st action: She hated her job.

 2nd action: She quit (her job).

Together: She hated her job, so she quit.


You try:

 1st action: She drank an entire pot of coffee.

 2nd action: She was bouncing off the walls all day long.



Practice some more by doing exercise A below.



2. When used together the words "so that" can express intention. In this case the first action makes the second action possible.


- I studied on Friday so that I could go to the party on Saturday.

- Mom works hard so that we can go to college. 



Notice: In informal English it is common for people to say “so” instead of “so that”. It would not be unusual to hear the sentences above said as:

-I studied on Friday so I could go to the party on Saturday.

- Mom works hard so we can go to college. 


Practice using “so that” in exercise B, C and D below.



3. To express that the quality of something or someone had an effect, we use the words “so + adjective/adverb + that + result”.

If we are talking about the quality of a NOUN (a person, a place or a thing) then we use the formula “noun+ to be (conjugated) + so + adjective + that + result”

For example: 

-The food was so salty that I couldn’t eat it. 

-The movie is so good that I watched it twice. 

-The kittens were so small that I could hold them in one hand.


If we are talking about the quality of an ACTION then we use the formula “action + so + adverb + that + result”.

For example:

-He spoke so loudly that everyone heard him.

-She eats so quickly that she gets sick.

-They sang so well that it made me cry.  


Practice expressing that the quality of a noun or verb makes something possible using exercise E below. 

4. To form exclamations that express that a quality is extreme. In this case "so" means "very". It is a modifier of an adjective or an adverb.  

For example: (Subject + to be + so+ adjective!)

-She's so nice!

-I'm so hungry!

-Those shoes are so ugly!

-I am so sorry!

-He is so tall now! 


For example: (Subject + verb + so + adverb!)

-He eats so quickly!

-She types so slowly!

-That rooster crows so loudly!

-My mom cooks so well!

-She calls so frequently! 


 Practice expressing that a quality is extreme using exercise F, G and H below. 


IV. Grammar Exercises 

 A. Matching

Directions: Match the following causes and results. Form complete sentences using the conjunction “so”. 


a)    She had not studied.

b)    He stayed up all night.

c)    They like the band They Might Be Giants.

d)    My nephew hadn’t caught any fish.

e)    We didn’t want the cat to go outside and get hit by a car.


1.    I put a fish on his hook when he wasn’t looking.

2.    We bought them tickets to see the group live.

3.    She failed the test.

4.    We scared her every time she tried to leave the house.

5.    He overslept. 


B. Sentence formations

Directions: Identify which action comes first, then form a sentence using “so that”.

Example:        He wouldn’t be cold. He brought a jacket.

He brought a jacket so that he wouldn’t be cold.

 1.    We can go out tonight. I called the babysitter.

 2.    They turned off all the lights. They could see the stars.

 3.    No one would know they were on vacation. They left the lights on.

 4.    They don’t have to buy eggs. They raise chickens.

 5.    He can go on vacation next month. He worked all weekend.  

 6.    She borrows books from the library. She doesn’t have to buy books.

 7.    We bought the tickets online. We don’t have to wait in line at the theatre.  



C. Responses

Directions: Invent some sentences using “so that” to answer the following questions.  

Example:          Why does Dad go to work every day?  

 Dad goes to work so that he can pay the bills.

 1.    Why do you want to learn English?

 2.    Why do some people recycle?

 3.    Why do people diet?

 4.    Why do some people participate in protests?

 5.    Why do some people fight in wars?

 6.    Why do plants produce seeds?

 7.    Why do some people try to climb to the top of mountains?   



D. Your turn!

Directions: Invent some of your own sentences using “so that”. 


E. Fill in the blanks

Directions: First notice whether the missing quality refers to a noun or a verb. Then fill in the blanks with adjectives or adverbs accordingly.


A.    The wind was so _____ that it blew trees over.

The wind was so strong that it blew trees over.

B.    The machine moves so _____ that you can’t see it moving.

The machine moves so quickly that you can’t see it moving. 

1.    The music was so _____ that I couldn’t hear myself speak.

2.    The bus was so _____ that I could have arrived earlier if I had walked.

3.    He speaks so _____ that I can always understand him.

4.    She cooks so _____ that she could be a professional chef.

5.    This book is so _____ that I can’t put it down (I can’t stop reading it).

6.    These instructions are so _____ that I don’t understand anything!

7.    The chowder was so _____ that I burnt my mouth when I ate it.

8.    He was so _____ when his grandfather died that he doesn’t remember him. He was only one year old at the time.

9.    The play was so _____ that my face hurt from laughing so much.

10.  He runs so _____ that I can hardly keep up with him.

11.  The food was so ____ that we had to go to the bank to get more money.

12.  My sister sings so _____ that it always makes my mother cry.

13.  My brother sings so _____ that everyone leaves the room.

14.  The painting is so _____ that you could confuse it with a photograph.

15.  The painter is so _____ that he can only afford to eat once a day. 



F. Expressing extremes

Directions: Express that a quality is extreme by adding "so" before it.

Example:         I am cold! I forgot my jacket!

I am so cold! I forgot my jacket!

 1.    I am tired! I haven't had a minute to sit down today!  

 2.    We were hungry! We hadn't eaten all day!

 3.    He is bored. Look at him! He clearly doesn't like the movie.

 4.    You are rude! I can't believe you said that!

 5.    This cake is big! How did you fit it into the oven?!

 6.    That dog is ugly! It looks like a rodent!



G. Sentence completions

Directions: Create sentences that express that the resulting situation is extreme using "so" + adjective.  

Example:         I haven't eaten all day. I am...

I haven't eaten all day. I am so hungry!

 1.    Do you have any water? I forgot to bring some and I am... 

 2.    She tripped again?! She is...

 3.    He organized a surprise birthday party for me! He is...

 4.    She told me that I looked stupid in this dress but then she bought it for herself! She is...

 5.    I hate the new house across the street. It is...

 6.    Have you been to the new movie theatre? The screens are...

 7.    My home is...

 8.    I am...

 9.    My pet is... 

10.   My neighbors are... 



H. 'So' + adverb.

Directions: Create sentences that express that an action is extreme using "so" + adverb.   

Example:         He plays the clarinet...

He plays the clarinet so well.

 1.    She reads...! 

 2.    My grandma used to cook...!

 3.    He drives...! 

 4.    They sing...!

 5.    He plays the drums...!

 6.    My neighbor ...

 7.    My husband/wife...

 8.    My boss...

 9.    My pet...  

10.   The government... 



V. Wrap-up

A. Conversation

1. In your country, how offensive is it to insult someone's mother? How offensive is it to speak poorly about another person's family? What would you do if someone insulted one of your family members? 

2.  Do you think that desensitization is a problem in your country? How has the culture changed over the passed 50 years? How have attitudes towards violence, sex and cussing (saying offensive words) changed? Has what is considered to be scandelous changed? 

3. Is it common for people in your country to insult each other playfully?  


B. Vocabulary review

Directions: Fill in blanks using the vocabulary words:

wit     sensational     desensitized     graphic     subtle     fair game     solidify     off limits     repartee  

1. Don't go in my room. It's _____.

2. That movie was _____! I felt like I was in it, not watching it!

3.  British humor tends to be _____; it's hard to know when they are joking or not. 

4. That video game is too _____. You will have nightmares if you play it. 

5. If you whip cream for too long it will _____. 

6. If you don't want me to express my opinions about your family then you shouldn't have said anything about mine! But if you are going to talk about my family then your family is also _____!

7. The play was wonderful! The script includes delightful _____ between the main characters. 

8. To solve riddles you must use your _____. 

9. War refugees are often _____ to violence and suffering. 


C. More vocabulary review

Directions: Practice at home or on your smartphone with this quizlet deck.  


D. Writing  

1. Write 5 sentences using "so" to express intention. 

2. Write 5 sentences using "so" to describe the quality of nouns. 

3. Write 5 sentences using "so" to describe the quality of verbs. 

4. Write 5 sentences using "so" to form exclamations. 

5. Have changes in technology resulted in cultural changes in your country? If so, describe these changes. How has television changed the culture of your country? How have the internet and video games contributed to cultural changes? Are these changes positive or negative? Can these changes be reversed or neutralized?  


E. Possible lessons for next class

[Here, type in the titles of two LOI English lessons that are related to this lesson in some way, the skill areas they fall under, and their urls. Be sure to set the urls to open in a new window. To do this, highlight 'here' in the sentence 'Click here for the lesson' and click on the chain icon in the menu. After you've opened the pop-up, you'll want to set the target to open in a new window.]

1. Title: So Many Ways to Use "So".

    Skill area: Conjunctions. 

    Click here for the lesson. 


2. Title: [Name of lesson]

    Skill area: 

    Click here for the lesson. 


[Photo credits:  Soo brightSo hotSo loudStonehenge (so mysterious!)Narcisissus (so vain!) QuarterbackQuarter. ClumsyTelephoneMoose. Animal control. ]






Grammar Point: