I see that questions about the usage of 'so' have been asked, but none of the answers I've seen get into why.

I first noticed this on the Shark Tank show. One of the sharks will ask a contestant something and almost always they begin the answer with 'so'. Since they come from all over America, I think they are being coached by the producers to do this. It bugs me, but I don't have a definitive reason why it is incorrect usage. In my dialect, 'so' at the beginning or within a sentence is equivalent to 'therefore'. (aside from it's meaning in sentences such as 'it's so much better that its in a different league')

  • 4
    "Why" is it incorrect? If you don't know why, have you considered the possibility that you might be wrong? (You might be right, but the title of your question bothers me.) Not every usage that gets on your nerves is grammatically incorrect. And it doesn't have to be for you to be able to complain about it/keep it as a pet peeve.
    – herisson
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 23:16
  • 2
    It buys the person time if they don't know exactly what they want to say, and sounds better than umm, duh, etc. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 23:20
  • I use it in the same way as "Well..." at the beginning of a sentence. It's an easy way to buy time and collect your thoughts. "So, I don't think this will work, but we can give it a shot", "Well, it's not a crocodile, it's an alligator, but either way I don't think it would be a very good babysitter". Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 23:44
  • So, I used to associate the use of "so" at the beginning of a statement with someone (often an academic) who was continuing or answering a point made earlier. In this case, using an initial "so" indicates that a thread is being picked up. A handy shorthand, when answering a question during a lecture, to indicate "now I'll carry on..." Nowadays it mostly don't mean nothing, except perhaps to add spurious gravity while gaining time as p.wireless says. I hate it, but then...
    – Margana
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 23:44
  • 1
    So what makes you think it's incorrect?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


It is not grammatically incorrect, although there is a lot of opposition to its use. Usually it is (in my humble opinion falsely) maligned as being non nutritional filler; ungraceful noise used to fill the period before someone is really ready to speak.

What is probably irking you, is that you're hearing "so" as a conjunction apparently missing it's former part, when really it's instead being used as an interjection.

Granted, it is actually fulfilling a similar role to a conjunction in that it's indicating a continuation of topic in your cited examples, but it can also perform the exact opposite function in introducing a new topic, so (hah!) don't get too hung up on that.

"So" acting as a interjection indicating a continuation of topic looks like:

A: I hear you were in Prague?

B: So, funny story about Prague...

And acting as a new topic indicator:

A: And then we left.


B: So, do you like bicycles at all?

And more forcefully to get out of a topic you don't want to be in:

A: ...and that's how I met my son's hot friend.

B: Huh. So, how about them Lakers, eh?

  • I gess thats about as good an answer as I will see. I use the 'so' interjection myself even tho it duznt make any real sense.
    – JO 753
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 0:39
  • Source (besides Wikipedia) for "a lot of opposition to its use"? Commented May 31, 2017 at 14:02

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