So…. (A RetroFlash) by
(125 Stories)

Prompted By Pet Peeves

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So... So many grammar peeves. So where to begin?

So many grammar peeves.

So where to begin?

(Also mega-COVID peeve:

Wear your f*cking mask!

But that’s not really a peeve,

That’s a f*cking rant.)



If I had to pick one

Seemingly in its ascendancy these days

(“Like” having been around for, like, forever)

It is starting a presentation

Or even just a sentence

With “so.”



Let me be clear on this.

“So” represents a continuation.

It must follow — and hopefully logically —

Something that has already been said.



In other words,

“So” is for conclusions,

Not for introductions.

I always want to scream back,

“So WHAT?”


Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin

Characterizations: been there, funny


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    So is a lazy thought pattern, gives people a chance to think a bit longer as they jump into what they want to say, like, for sure? (Have you ever read JZ’s article, first written for Computer World in the early ’80s on alternative computer languages? Very funny, particularly one written about “Valgol” with credit given to Betsy “Moon Unit” Pfau. We were on vacation with them, driving up to Muir Woods and talked about it in their car. It is a programming language written like a Valley Girl.)

    TOTALLY agree about masks…more than ever with the variants spreading like crazy and cases rising again. We’ll never get out of this unless the thoughtless people all die! SO was that impolite? You can amend that comment, if you like.

    • John Shutkin says:

      I did read about Valgol, Betsy, and you raise a very good point; “so” is a lazy way to buy some time to think. So why didn’t I think of that?

      And your comment re masks was not impolite; it was exactly right. And an absolutely proper use of “so,” as you had already made your argument and this was your conclusion. So good for you!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    So, hope I haven’t been an offender. I’ve been using it more as I’ve been doing more casual writing. If I use it incorrectly, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Not to worry, Laurie. I had particularly in mind a former executive director of a non-profit I am on the board of who would always start her presentations with “so.” She actually had much bigger problems than that — which is why she is “former” — but that always stuck in my mind.

  3. Suzy says:

    So I have to tell you, John, I use “so” ALL THE TIME! Generally in speaking, as a way to get someone’s attention, instead of saying “ahem” or clearing my throat. I say “so…” and wait for the other person to look at me. I don’t think I use it in writing, but I will start being attentive to that, now that I know it annoys you.

  4. So here’s the deal John, it’s better than “like”!

  5. Marian says:

    All good peeves, John. So, what now? (:-)

  6. So a guy walks into a bar…

  7. Hear, hear, John. I, too, hate it so.

  8. Mister Ed says:

    I really like your answer — not a word I use in the way you don’t like all that often. My father would have pointed out one of his in your submission — that being “hopefully”. The phrase you want, he would tell me, is “I am hopeful that…” Fowler’s English Usage has an entry devoted to it.

  9. Mister Ed says:

    Hopefully, I avoid it most of the time.

  10. Good on you, John. I remember very specifically when I started hearing this use of so, to my dismay, among NPR hosts and other respectable quarters, and then to my chagrin my well-educated and articulate sister-in-law. And what can I say? So, the frequency of this ill usage has just expanded as the time passes.

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