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LostInParadise's avatar

Have you noticed the frequent use of the word "so" at the beginning of sentences?

Asked by LostInParadise (18098 points ) March 30th, 2014

I have only noticed it in the last year or two. When I grew up in the 60’s, I remember the frequent use of the word “like” at the beginning of sentences (and just about everywhere else) by the youth culture. The use of “so” seems to be more universal. I am finding it really annoying.

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33 Answers

janbb's avatar

Yes, I particularly notice it a great deal from NPR interviewees. Drives me batty.

Kropotkin's avatar

So, you find this annoying?

So too bad for you.

talljasperman's avatar

I usually start with because or also.

hearkat's avatar

One of my greatest pet peeves!! I’ve also noticed it on NPR, and I initially though it might be the result of editing, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not. It’s not that they’re starting the sentence or a question off with “so,” – they’re starting their entire paragraph that is a response to a question that way.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@hearkat I always saw the use of “so” at the beginning of an answer on NPR as the interviewee taking a second to gather their thoughts, it sounds a bit better than ummmm or uhhh after all.

hearkat's avatar

In that case, I’d be more inclined to say, “Well…”, @El_Cadejo.

bolwerk's avatar

Serious question….

So, if’s a problem, do you have a constructive solution?

hominid's avatar

@LostInParadise: “I am finding it really annoying.”

Why do you find it really annoying?

tedibear's avatar

Guilty! I do it as a filler when I am gathering my thoughts, but feel the need to keep control of the conversation.

filmfann's avatar

So you don’t have a more pressing question?

zenvelo's avatar

It’s a bad habit I have. And I often have to go back and edit emails and Fluther responses to get down to only one sentence starting that way.

But it is much better than my old habit that my last girlfriend broke me of: ending a sentence with so… That would drive her crazy, and I’d get a “so what the fuck!” in response.

Adagio's avatar

Guilty as charged (sometimes).

dxs's avatar

I over-use the words “so”, “like”, “well”, and “literally”. Sue me.

jaytkay's avatar

Hmmm, I do that. And I listen to a lot of NPR.

JLeslie's avatar

I use it. I hope I don’t overuse it too much. Sometimes my so is a soooo, for emphasis.

gondwanalon's avatar

Yes and it seems so weird to me.

Another thing that is weird is after I finish a sentence the other person will say, “Right?.
I’m so so so tired of that.

mangeons's avatar

A lot of times I’ll start a sentence with “so anyway” or something along those lines. I think it’s just a colloquialism that we’ve adopted, just like similar trends in the past. Like @dxs, I’ve also been known to overuse the words “like” and “literally” constantly in conversation. Even though they are often used in ways that don’t correspond with their dictionary definition, they’ve taken on new meanings in modern-day conversation.

SpatzieLover's avatar

So is the beginning of many of the sentences in the various diary type books so popular with youth readers (such as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”).

I use it much as @mangeons and @JLeslie pointed out above. I do the same in my writing, particularly if I’m attempting to keep my words conversational.

ragingloli's avatar

So… I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all… I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing, a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it…

Juels's avatar

My mother starts every explanation with “So, here’s the thing”.

Pachy's avatar

Yes, it’s been discussed on Fluther many times. It’s a stand-in for “Er” and “Uh” and I hate it. The practice of using it supposedly began in the tech world.

livelaughlove21's avatar

What’s the solution? If I were to say something and end the sentence, then have a follow-up sentence, what should I say instead of “so”?

Real question. Not being a smart ass.

Now that I think of it, I probably do this quite a bit and never noticed, even if it’s my first sentence. I just told my co-worker, “So, today is my 90th day!” That “so” clearly wasn’t necessary. Hm…I’ll pay more attention now.

janbb's avatar

@livelaughlove21 It’s fine in the first instance you cite where the second sentence is a linked follow- up but not as a start to every sentence. On NPR, the interviewer asks a question and the interviewee almost invariably starts the answer with, “So…..”

livelaughlove21's avatar

@janbb How odd! I don’t listen to NPR, but I imagine that would get annoying pretty quickly. I would’ve thought a lot of answers would start with, “Well…” I hear a lot of that, and I probably do it pretty often.

janbb's avatar

@livelaughlove21 The “so” seems to be being used instead of a “well” although on the Terri Gross show, she and whoever steps for her as the interviewer use “well” all the time!

ragingloli's avatar

Unlike ‘uh’ which is a filler word caused by uncertainty, ‘so’ is an attention grabbing word or exclamation, similar to “hey”, and “listen up, asshole”, while being more polite than either.
I do not understand the objection to its use.

LostInParadise's avatar

There is nothing wrong with using it once or twice in a conversation. It becomes very distracting when it is used all the time. Like many others here, I have noticed the problem on NPR. Harry Shearer, being the smartass that he is, has a segment of his show devoted to examples of excessive use of the word “so”.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Yes. I do it a lot myself. I over use the word ‘also’ too. I do think that, when listening to any kind of public speaker or lecturer/teacher, the use of the word ‘so’ at the beginning of a sentence sounds far more confident and pulls me in to what they are about to say more than ‘um’ or ‘uh’. I think we always need to have filler words or noises and it’s all about choosing the best of a bad bunch but anything will get annoying if overused.

hominid's avatar

@LostInParadise – It sounds like you are thrown off or distracted when you hear it because you associate it with NPR. I get that. There are particular NPR-isms that I notice too, such as an artificial stutter. Once I became aware of it, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when upper middle-class moderate Democrats would play tasteful jazz, serve the finest wines, and discuss an article from the current issue of the Utne Reader with that distinct stutter that would only come out when trying to sound like they knew what they were talking about.

However, language is fluid and we are all susceptible to picking up things from who we listen to and the people around us. I don’t see this as a bad thing. I likely say “so” quite often. For example, if I was to go on one of my little explanations above, but try to come back to answer the question, I’d likely start it with “So, have I noticed the use of…”

But I am a horrible speaker and writer (grammatically), so there may be a legitimate reason I should stop using “so”. What is it?

KNOWITALL's avatar

Starting it with a filler makes you sound dumb right off the bat. ‘Ummm’ is worse, ‘and’ is also way over-used too.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@KNOWITALL Can you give an example of when “and” is used but isn’t necessary?

rojo's avatar

I think there is a fairly rational explanation to this phenomena. So, to get right to the point, I think it is, like, because a lot of folks write the way the speak.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Usually I notice when a person is using ‘and’ instead of ending a sentence and starting a new one.

“And then I went to Randy’s and played baseball and we went swimming and then we went out to dinner with the girls, oh and my mom was there and she bought… ”

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