'So, where have you been?' You may have heard such sentences and wondered when and how we use the word 'so.' In this lesson, we will learn more.

How to Use "So" in English?

'So' can be used as both a conjunction and an adverb. In this lesson, we will discuss how to learn and use it.

Functions of 'So'

'So' as an Adverb


'So' can function as an adverb. Below, we are going to analyze the different kinds of adverbs it can be:

'So' as an Adverb of Degree

'So' can be an adverb of degree. Look below:

  • When we want to show that something has risen up to a great extent:

It's so terrible!

The manager was being so nice to me.

  • When we want to indicate that something is as nice, great, etc. as another:

How could she lie to so many people?

Stop treating me so horribly.

  • When we want to emphasize the degree of something by showing the result:

Ariana was so weak that she couldn't even hold her tears back in front of her ex.

As you can see, here 'so' is used to indicate how weak the mentioned person had been.

My father changed so sudden that we couldn't believe he had been who he was before.

'So' as a Commenting and Viewpoint Adverb

'So' can also function as an adverb of viewpoint and commenting when we want to repeat what has been said about another person, or when we want to emphasize an idea. Take a look:

  • When we want to add something that was mentioned before about another person:

A : I talked to the professor last night.

B : So did I.

His daughter has been affected by Covid-19, and so has his wife.

  • When we want to refer back to something that was mentioned before:

A : Do you think these two look good together?

B : I don't think so.

A : Do you think she will get better?

B : I think so.

Position in a Sentence

'Since 'so' is functioning as an adverb here, it mainly comes before adverbs or adjectives to modify them. Look:

Why are you being so nice to me?

Nice is an adjective.

Everything had happened so suddenly that I only tried not to lose my mind.

Suddenly is an adverb.

Spoken Uses of 'So'

We can use 'so' differently when we are speaking English. Let us learn all about how we can use 'so' in different forms of speech, below:

  • Sometimes when we want to emphasize what we are saying, we can use 'so' before a noun phrase:

She is so not the suitable applicant for this job.

As you can see, it is only used before a negative marker.

I'm sorry but you are so not the candidate we are looking for.

  • When we want to start a conversation or get someone's attention:

'So, tell me about your new life in Canada.'

'So, does she like her ballet dance class?'

  • When we want to show how big/tall/ high, etc. someone/something is, we use 'so':

She's about so tall and she has blue eyes.

The tables are about so wide.

  • When we want to indicate how someone's behavior is typical of them:

A : Anna talked for three straight hours on the phone.

B : Ugh, that is just so Anna.

A : Monica goes jogging every weekend.

B : That is just so Monica.

  • When we are narrating a story, we use 'so' to tell the next event:

So, he went inside the hideous house and found her mother trembling on the floor, with her mouth full of blood and dirt.

So, the hero of the story finds his true love and they live happily ever after.

  • So?/so what: When we want to indicate that something will not change the situation:

So what if she loses?

This is used in spoken English and it is impolite.

A : I mean she will be able to do it.

B : So? how can you guarantee that?

  • When we are using 'so' to show that something mentioned about one person is also true about another, we must change the subject and the verb. Please take a look:

She was mentally unstable, and so was her mother.

A : The Cottons are famous for their religiosity.

B : So are the Marburgs.

  • When we are using 'so' only in spoken English in order to start a conversation with someone or to introduce something, we put it at the beginning of the sentence. Take a look below:

So, how've you been doing reverend?

So, ladies and gentlemen, shall we begin our contest?


'So' can also be used differently in a literary text. If we want to say that something continues as the way it was described, we use 'so'. Take a look:

Cotton Mather and Miss Hale spent days together, and so began a lifelong relationship.

Idioms and Phrases of 'So'

As you might probably know, 'so' can be used in various idioms. Let us take a look below:

  • So much the better: This one is used when we want to say that a situation might even get better:

If you are able to come to class on time, so much the better.

Here, the sentence indicates that it is even better that the particular person can make it to class on time.

If your friend has time to practice guitar more, so much the better.

  • So they say: When we want to show that something is what most people believe, but it might/might not be true:

As you grow older, you will be able to maintain your self-composure more, so they say.

The building was exploded accidentally, so they say.

  • So to speak: It is used when we want to say something metaphorically:

In their marriage, Anna is the one who wears the trousers, so to speak.

Here, the sentence metaphorically states 'Anna' has the upper hand.

A : Don't you think he's acting a bit weird?

B : Yea, it's like a monster has eaten him from the inside out, so to speak.

  • So far as I'm concerned: This one is used to signify that we are telling our own opinion:

So far as I'm concerned, there are no holidays this week.

This idiom is synonymous with as far as I'm concerned.

So far as I'm concerned, they haven't talked to each other.

  • So not: To emphasize that something is not going to happen or is not true:

That is so not the opposite of what you said, father.

The final decision has been made, so not much room for change.

  • So as to: When we want to show the purpose of an action, we use 'so as to':

We avoided them so as to maintain our self-composure.

The skilled waitress coaxed the customer so as to get a large tip.

'So' as a Conjunction

It was also mentioned that 'so' is a conjunction. Let us see what kinds of conjunction it can be:


'So' as a Coordinating Conjunction

As you know, conjunctions are used to join words, phrases, and clauses. However, note that 'so' is only used to connect two independent clauses together which is why we call it a coordinating conjunction. Take a look:

I was sleepy, so I cancelled the meeting today.

Hanna was tired, so she decided to take a break.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'so' is a conjunction here, we can only put it between the two independent clauses we want to connect. Take a look:

My father wasn't in the mood to cook, so he ordered a Pasta and a Caesar salad.

The hotel manager got angry, so he stomped his foot on the ground like a child and hurried away.


Please note that when we use 'so' as a conjunction, we must always put a comma before it.


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