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With the sun shining brightly outside, I feel so very alive.

With the sun shining brightly outside, I feel so much alive.

Which of the above two sounds better to you? What does "so" refer to? Thanks.
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I prefer the second one, but I probably wouldn't use either one of them. I think of them as exclamatory sentences, like "What big eyes you have, Grandma!" ESL probably has another term for it.

ESL calls these "verbs of sense," right? I guess they're akin to verbs of being - like saying, "I am alive." Alive would be a predicate adjective, which means its modifiers would be called adverbs and their modifiers would be called adverbs.

So modifies (refers to) very/much which modify alive. You could make the chain longer: "I am so very much alive!" Each word in the predicate modifies (refers to) the word which follows it.
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AngliholicWith the sun shining brightly outside, I feel so very alive.

With the sun shining brightly outside, I feel so much alive.

Which of the above two sounds better to you? What does "so" refer to? Thanks.
Neither one really sounds right to my native ear. Oddly, however, combining elements of the two makes it sound quite natural: "I feel very much alive".