phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Only so much

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 07, 2004

In Reply to: Only so much posted by SR on October 07, 2004

: : Hello
: : Context:
: : "The book is dedicated to people under stress who may have low energy or *only so much to give*.
: : My difficulty is with "only so much to give. Does she mean - that they have a limited energy to give? or something else?

: : 2. in this context:
: : "It'not your fault if you follow doctor's orders and stil feel drained. You just need a more complete *prescription*. I'll give it to you here".
: : My question: can I use the word prescription here in the meaning of *solution* or stay with the conventinal meaning?

: : Thank you so much

: Hello, Miri! In the first part, I think you are safe to say that because of stress the person will have a low level of participation and can only contribute so much or, as you say, has "only so much to give." For the second part, sometimes a person needs more than a doctor's traditional 'prescription' of medicine. Sometimes prescribed medicine needs to be combined with a change in attitude or lifestyle or point of view.
: I hope this helps!

"Only so much." "So" is often used as a kind of indefinite quantifier. I can walk only "so far" before I poop out. I can only do "so much" of the housework before I have to sit down. I can only produce "so many" test questions before my imagination dries up. I have only "so much" to give (or do or provide or anything else) before I run out of energy. "So much" is an indefinite, but definitely limited, quantity.
SR is right, of course, about prescription, as well as for the problem of the first paragraph. If the doctor prescribes Xanax, he'll write that down on a prescription form, so the patient can take it to someone else (like a pharmacist) as evidence that it was prescribed by a legitimate doctor. If the doctor prescribes bed rest, or a less stressful lifestyle, he probably won't write it down--even though "prescribe" implies writing. SS

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