How to Use ‘So’ in English and Why You Should

by and | 22 comments

This week I want to answer a question from one of my students. Back in July during one of my Fluency School courses, Zuleima asked me a fantastic question! She wanted to know about this tiny little word in English—so. What’s the deal? Why do native speakers use ‘so’ so much?

She lives in Australia and she has heard native speakers use this word in different expressions and phrases, for example: So many. So much. Even so. I don’t think so. I hope so. I’ll do so. Not so much. So, so. So long as. So what? And so on. Those are just a few examples of the different ways we might use this little word in English.

In today’s lesson, I’m going to share with you several ways that we use the word so and why, so that you can use it in your daily English conversation and do it with confidence.

6 ways to use ‘so’ in English.

Lesson by Annemarie

Notes on How to Use ‘So’ in English

Number 1: Link ideas or transition to a new topic or idea.

  • If you’re leading a business meeting, when everyone is present and you’re ready to get started, you might transition into the business meeting with something like: “So, let’s get started for today.”
  • Or if you’re in a conversation with someone and you want to transition to a new topic, you can do it easily by saying: “So, I heard you started a new job.”

 

Number 2: To mean very or to a great extent.

  • Thanks so much.
  • She’s always so late to work.

 

Number 3: So much, so many, so little and so few.

  • I have so much to do at work today and so little time.
  • Why were there so few people at the conference?

“I have so much to do at work today and so little time.

Number 4: More so and less so to help us compare things.

  • My old job was crazy busy, but thankfully my new job is less so now.

 

Number 5: Reduce the number of words that we use or avoid repeating words. 

A student asked me if I have any plans for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and my response could have been:

  • “Yes, I think I have some plans for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.” → “Yeah, I think so.” Or “I hope so!”

 

Number 6: To emphasize

  • That’s so awesome.
  • That’s so not cool.

Additional Practice on How to Use ‘So’ in English

There are so many more ways to use so. Review the additional examples in a short conversation as two friends meet for lunch:

 

A: It is so nice to see you!  I am so glad I am here in LA!  Is Chiara coming today? I hope so!

B: I don’t think so. She got a new job.

A: So what? Today is Saturday! She doesn’t work Saturday!

B: She said she would come so long as she didn’t work late on Friday.  So, I guess she worked late.

A: Even so, I have been here 2 weeks and so far I haven’t seen her!  It is not so much that I expect her to drop everything, but more so I am just so excited to see her!   

B: Her new job seems so busy.  So much so that this week she worked till 2am every night!  

A: Wow!  So much for finding a better job! It sounds like this job is so much worse than her old one!

B: I am so sad for her!

A:  So am I.  Do you think she will quit soon?

B:  She hasn’t said so.

A: Anyway, if she doesn’t have time to see me then so be it. Just tell her I missed her.

B: I’ll do so.

A: So, should we order?

Now, as you’ve learned, there are so many ways to use this word, so, so are you ready to practice?

How could you respond to these three phrases using the word so in your answer?

  1. Imagine you and I are going to lunch. We sit down at the restaurant and I ask you, “Does this restaurant have vegetarian food?” What could you say?
  2. We’re at the restaurant, we’ve ordered our food and it’s taking a really long time, so I say “I’m so hungry” and you want to respond telling me that you feel the same way. How could you do that? Here’s a hint. You might need to review the dialogue to get the right answer.
  3. While we’re having lunch, we’re talking about one of our colleagues and I say, “I can’t believe she was late to work again!” How would you respond?

As always the best place to share your answers with me is in the comments section below. I read all comments and I love to respond. It’s also a great way to learn from others in the Confident English Community.

Have a fantastic Wednesday.

~ Annemarie

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