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I have recently noticed that some people nowadays are using the word "so" at the start of a sentence.

For example - there is currently a question on the Law site which begins:

So I live in Germany, and there is a restaurant about 10 minutes away from my house. I often order from there but now much less.

"So" to my own native ear is a conjunction which links a statement or thought to something which it succeeds e.g. "It was dark so I turned on the light". It can usually be replaced with something like "and for that reason"

Has this more introductory "so" become an idiomatic feature e.g. in America. I've not seen it used nearly as often in Britain.

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  • Some say that using filler words is just a bad habit that even royalty can have.
    – fev
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 7:33
  • I have certainly noticed it as an annoying habit in Britain. Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 8:36
  • So, I was just noticing the other day that I have started to do this in my own conversation. I'm trying to work out if its more, or less, annoying than using 'you know?' as a filler mid sentence
    – Andy M
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 9:38
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    I'm sure there is a duplicate, addressing 'So' as a semantically bleached (and thus here non-sequiturial) sentence connector, a mere attention-focusing device. Of course, that's not the whole story, as there's a residue of 'Right, now let me reply to what you've just said ...' (or even a tenuous 'So, going on to a new question ...') in many cases. Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 13:01
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    So, like I think it’s alright like, you know.
    – David
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 18:35

1 Answer 1

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so

9. ADVERB You can use so in conversations to introduce a new topic, or to introduce a question or comment about something that has been said.

  • So how was your day?
  • So you're a runner, huh?
  • So as for your question, Miles, the answer still has to be no.

etc.

Isn't this what you're talking about?

I'm no native. Whatever alleged proficiency in English I have gained through institutional studies has subsequently been refined thanks to the worldwide accessibility of British and American art: i.e. music and cinema, above all (along with some litterature, though not that much).

Even though I don't really get the chance to socialize with natives, I don't find this usage of "so" the least bit surprising. I feel that I've come across it countless times ever since my teens (I'm 38 today).

Just for the sake of providing an example, here's two of the earliest encounters I can recall:

Point being, I guess, music's popularizing effect on linguistic oddities should not be overlooked.

With all due respect, I'd actually be quite surprised if a native speaker found this usage to be surprising. After all, how surprising can it be when it's even included in dictionaries?

Perhaps it's a "linguist's overanalysis", which I'm afraid would be a bit out of reach for my own comprehension of English.

Respectfully.

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    I don't think this is what the OP is talking about. I find your examples perfectly natural, but I find "So" prefixing a statement or narrative odd and annoying. Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 17:41
  • (9a) '.**so** ADVERB You can use so in conversations to introduce a new topic' certainly addresses the acceptability of the usage. As to 'degrees of acceptability in the UK / US': I'm surprised to see the new usage even mentioned beyond Wikipedia. Good spot. But an article on differential idiomaticity would be a real find. Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 19:01
  • ADVERB You can use so in conversations to introduce a new topic, or to introduce a question or comment about something that has been said. The important words here are the last six - "about something that has been said". But in my example absolutely nothing had been said. An entirely new topic is introduced with the word "So". And it is that that appears to be annoying @Kate Bunting and me.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 22:36
  • @WS2 That's one of two scenarios presented by Collins: (a) new topic, (b) question/comment about sth previously mentioned.
    – m.a.a.
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 22:51

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