Using [verb] + tan + [adjective/adverb] + que to say "so... that..."

In Spanish the structure:

[verb] + tan [adjective/adverb] + que [sentence] 

is used to express what in English would be:

[verb] + so [adjective/adverb] that [sentence]

Have a look and listen to the following examples:

El paciente está tan debil que necesita permanecer en el hospital.
The patient is so weak that he needs to stay in hospital.

El ordenador funciona tan lentamente que no puedo terminar el trabajo.
The computer is so slow that I can't finish my work.

Estos zapatos resultaron tan buenos que he comprado otro par igual.
These shoes were so good that I bought another identical pair.

Ese camión va tan rápido que va a salirse de la carretera.
That lorry is going so fast that it's going to go off the road.

This type of structure shows a cause, expressed in the first part of the sentence and an effect or consequence expressed after que.

This structure doesn't work when we invert the sentence, i.e. first the consequence and then the cause:

Es tan guapo que siempre tiene admiradores alrededor.
He is so handsome that he always has admirers around him.
Que siempre tiene admiradores alrededor es tan guapo.

Be careful not to confuse this construction with the comparative structure: 
Tan [adjective/adverb] como...As [adjective/adverb] as...

Remember that adjectives need to agree with what they are modifying: 

Su camisa está tan sucia que debe lavarse ya.
His shirt is so dirty that it must be washed straight away.

Estos chicos son tan altos que chocan con el techo.
These guys are so tall that they touch the ceiling.

Extra note:

Sometimes we use the same structure in shorter exclamatory sentences:

Verb + tan + adjective/adverb

Here are some examples:

Me encantan estos chocolates, ¡son tan buenos!
I love these chocolates, they are so good!

No me gusta ir en el coche con Juan, ¡conduce tan rápido!
I don't like going in the car with Juan, he drives so fast!

 See also Using tan ... como = as ... as (comparatives with adjectives and adverbs) and Forming exclamatory sentences with qué + noun + más/tan + adjective 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

No me gusta ir en el coche con Juan, ¡conduce tan rápido!
I don't like going in the car with Juan, he drives so fast!


El ordenador funciona tan lentamente que no puedo terminar el trabajo.
The computer is so slow that I can't finish my work.


Me encantan estos chocolates, ¡son tan buenos!
I love these chocolates, they are so good!


El paciente está tan debil que necesita permanecer en el hospital.
The patient is so weak that he needs to stay in hospital.


Estos zapatos resultaron tan buenos que he comprado otro par igual.
These shoes were so good that I bought another identical pair.


Ese camión va tan rápido que va a salirse de la carretera.
That lorry is going so fast that it's going to go off the road.


Q&A Forum 2 questions, 2 answers

How to search

Hola,

I clicked on the link at the top of this lesson to see more info on the topic :

However, later on I tried to do a search with both these entries in the search box and on the Library page with these entries - below-  and nothing came up (except the translations - which has happened several times before):

Entries: Spanish grammar lessons for Idioms, Idiomatic Usage, and Structures and

IDIOMS, IDIOMATIC USAGE, AND STRUCTURES (your link in the lesson)

I don't understand how come this does not come out in the search.  What am I doing wrong?

 Also would it work better to search in Spanish? 

Thank you. Nicole



Asked 1 week ago

How to search

Hola,

I clicked on the link at the top of this lesson to see more info on the topic :

However, later on I tried to do a search with both these entries in the search box and on the Library page with these entries - below-  and nothing came up (except the translations - which has happened several times before):

Entries: Spanish grammar lessons for Idioms, Idiomatic Usage, and Structures and

IDIOMS, IDIOMATIC USAGE, AND STRUCTURES (your link in the lesson)

I don't understand how come this does not come out in the search.  What am I doing wrong?

 Also would it work better to search in Spanish? 

Thank you. Nicole



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In the quiz sentence 'Cuando estés tan agobiado que no puedas relajarte, llámame.', can you explain the structure of this sentence.

'Cuando' triggers the subjunctive 'estés', is there a double trigger due to 'Cuando estés tan agobiado que' causing 'no puedas relajarte' where 'puedas' is in the subjunctive or is 'no puedas relajarte' just in the imperative?
Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq language super star

Hola Michael

The second part "no puedas relajarte" is also in the subjunctive because it is triggered by "que" (cuando estés tan agobiado que...). This part: "que no puedas relajarte" implies "that you may not be able to relax", therefore there is uncertainty. 

Does it clarify it for you? It is a complex structure.

Let us know if you have more doubts.

Gracias

Inma

Perfect explanation, thank you.  I understand the subjunctive in this case, but I hadn't seen this form of double trigger, with the subjunctive repeating in the same sentence.  The imperative didn't make sense to me.

In the quiz sentence 'Cuando estés tan agobiado que no puedas relajarte, llámame.', can you explain the structure of this sentence.

'Cuando' triggers the subjunctive 'estés', is there a double trigger due to 'Cuando estés tan agobiado que' causing 'no puedas relajarte' where 'puedas' is in the subjunctive or is 'no puedas relajarte' just in the imperative?

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