I have tried over the past few years to accustom myself to the increasing usage of the word “So” when it is plonked at the beginning of a sentence.

I find it particularly distracting when listening to an otherwise intelligent and competent academic taking part in a discussion on any one of the BBC’s excellent factual programmes such as In Our Time, The Life Scientific, Inside Science and the like, reply to a question starting with “so”.
Why do they do it? It is unfathomable. It could be a discussion on the nature of dark matter or the possibilities of unlimited power through cold fusion. The presenter would introduce a knowledgable person in that field of study and ask them a question say, “What is dark matter and how is it measured?” Upon which the first thing uttered by the expert is, so! Usually this “so” distracts and confounds me to such an extent that I completely miss the explanation that follows.

I was encouraged somewhat to find John Humphrys also finds this invasion of the so and so’s equally baffling and irritating. Here he is discussing the matter with John Rentoul on the Today Progamme.

So does starting a sentence with ‘so’ annoy you?

I still get distracted by this discourse marker. I think it is a lazy way to construct a sentence when one is hoping to impart knowledge and understanding.

Having said that I now feel unburdened and ready to continue my journey through space and time. Thank you.


  • Nothing is as annoying as hearing in reply to the question: “What are your hobbies?”
    “So I like…..”
    Except the dangling “so….” at the end of a declarative sentence.
    ” I enjoy gardening , cooking and painting so….”

    • tao

      I find it very distracting, which is a problem when the extraneous “So” is used in an educational or informative discourse.
      There is also the completely unnecessary “Of” I have noticed of late used in sentences such as; Then she got off of the plane. He took a run then jumped off of the cliff!
      I really do find it difficult to converse with a person who uses such odd language.

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