Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

English conversation natural how to use so many in English

Do you get confused when you hear native use this structure? : I can only ___ so much

This is an advanced grammar structure in English that a lot of native speakers use but you might not know how to use it.

Today we’ll show you how to add this structure to your own speech repertoire so that you can connect more easily with natives.

Here is a question from our listener:

Hello Lindsay and Michelle! I am Sue, I have been listening to your podcast for nearly 3 years now and I’m always grateful to you two. You always make me giggle when you tackle interesting things and start throwing in funny experiences and examples-such a light way to learn! I feel like I am becoming a well-rounded person just by listening and learning from all the episodes. It is amazing that you focus on connection than perfection too! Thank you so much for your hard work!

By the way, I would like to ask this question,

I can only __________ so much.  What are the other examples related to this expression, and how are they used in a sentence? I hope you would consider these topics on your upcoming episodes, one at a time.  

Thank you. So much love from Singapore!


All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Learn to speak naturally with the American accent.

Click here to save 50% and subscribe to future transcripts!



Good question!

We use this structure when we talk about limitations. We use it when there is a limit to something.

Here are some more examples:

  • I can only eat so many green beans before I get sick.
  • I can only drink so many beers before I need to stop
  • I can only travel for so long before I get sick of it and start missing home

If we say, “I can only exercise so much” it means that there is a limit to the amount of exercise that I can do.

We don’t specify that amount but we’re saying that it will run out eventually.

Another way to say it: “At a certain point I max out on exercise” or “At a certain point I can’t exercise anymore.”


*Bonus phrase from the role play:

To fall off the wagon: When you ‘fall off the wagon‘, you go back to doing something like drinking alcohol after you have stopped doing it for a long time.

Now this expression can be used to talk about going back to many different behaviors like overeating or not exercising.


What questions do you have from today?

Let us know in the comments below.

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X