Is “So” is the New “Well”? Fun Trends in Verbal Throat-Clearing

So have you noticed that no one on the news can begin a sentence without the word “so”?

So this has been happening with such frequency on TV and radio news, from anchors to reporters to people-on-the-street-answering-questions, it has me wondering: where did this habit come from?

So they do it in a way that pays no attention to the meaning of the word, as in “thus” or “for that reason”. So they’re just saying “so” as a kind of motivational noise, like the grunt we older people make when rising from a sofa.

So there’s no comma. So it’s not, “So, what I mean is…” So it’s more like: “I am starting to speak now.”

So it’s also not just newsy people priming their sentences with “so.” So it’s regular people, friends of mine…even, to my bemusement, myself!

(So if I hear The Mate say, “So I’ll be working on the gutters this morning,” I will consider that as a sign of impending Apocalypse.)

So it’s also showing up now in print, like on Facebook and blogs. So I’d give an example, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone. So keep an eye out for it, and you’ll soon see what I mean.

So, when did this start? (So did you notice–that time I actually used the word properly, logically, as in, “Okay, people, let’s think about this”?)

(Orig. photo by Abigail Porter)

So I’m also wondering, is this just an American thing? So you folks in other countries, are you prefacing your English sentences with “so”?

So another question: what did we use as sentence skid-greasers before “so”? So was it “well”?

So I think it was “Well.” So it might also have been “Um,” or “ah.” So maybe in Ireland it was “sure.” So maybe it still is. So you go, Ireland!

So what do you think?Β 

11 thoughts on “Is “So” is the New “Well”? Fun Trends in Verbal Throat-Clearing

  1. So this was , um, like, well, uh, a really interesting blog πŸ™‚ So this gave me a nice little giggle this morning…so you go girl!!!

  2. The youth in England have an even worse way of using this word. As in: ‘I am so not going to do that’ or overheard on a train recently: ‘ This is so going on Facebook’. This is so annoying.

    • I blame the TV series “Friends” for that: they SO started it! And now today’s youth are SO binge-watching those reruns. As our “president” would say, “Sad!” πŸ™‚ Thanks for visiting Wing’s World, Chloris!


    I started noticing this back around 2010, usually listening to some interview on the radio, usually of an academic, especially when it was a scientist. It was hard to explain to people back then, and still is now to some. For me, the easiest example is that when someone begins an answer to a question (as in an interview) with “So, . . .” And I think the skid-greaser it replaced, for the most part, is “Well, . . .” Most famous example of this I can think of from the past was Reagan (I can still hear him say that).

    It used to drive me crazy when I heard this new use of “so.” Then, I switched jobs about 5 years ago, going from a job where nearly everyone was older than I was (I was 50 at the time) to a job where nearly everyone is younger. And nearly everyone in my new job used “so.” As did I, in short order.

    • Ah, a fellow noticer! I agree about the replacement of “well.” My prediction for the next iteration, based on listening to news interviews: “Look…” (Obama was big “look”-user. Maybe he made it cool.) Thanks for visiting Wing’s World!

  4. Pingback: Delights and Downsides of Dabbling Dilettantism | Wing's World

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