Did you know that so is one of the top 50 words used in English? If you’re not already using this word, keep reading because once you have this conversation strategy in your toolbelt, your speaking in English will be more fluent. One of the best words you can add to your English knowledge is so, because we use this to make sure we understand what the other person is saying when we are having a conversation. Keep reading this blog post to learn ESL speaking tips by using so in English and for some examples of questions you can ask in conversations. Shall we get started?
How so can help you in a conversation
Picture this situation… you are talking to Tina, a colleague from your English course. There’s a conversation class this Friday and you are talking about whether you should attend the event. Let’s imagine this conversation.
Julia: Hey, Tina. How are you?
Tina: Hey, Julia. Good, and you?
Julia: I’m doing fine. So, did you get the invite for the conversation class this Friday?
Tina: Yes, I did get that email. I am not sure if I am going to attend, though.
Julia: Oh, really?
Tina: Yeah. To be honest, I am still not very confident with my English. I went to one of those a few weeks ago and I didn’t have a good time, so…
Julia: I understand. But the conversation class can actually help you build that confidence. I don’t feel very confident either, but I like going to these events because I end up learning a lot. So, how do you feel about giving it another try?
Tina: You’re very kind, Julia. But I don’t feel ready yet, you know?
Julia: Right, that’s okay. Next Friday there will be a cooking class. Maybe you will like this one better? I remember you saying that you love to cook.
Tina: Cooking class? I love cooking. I would like this, for sure.
Julia: So you are going to the cooking class? Can I RSVP for both of us?
Tina: Yes! I would love to go.
Julia: Awesome! I am sure you will have fun and learn a lot.
Tina: So, yeah. Should we grab a coffee before class starts? It’s still 8:45.
Julia: Yeah, let’s go.
6 ESL speaking tips: how to use so in a conversation
We can use so in English in many different ways during a conversation. Let’s take a look at some ESL speaking tips and reasons to use this word and some examples. Also, make sure to read more about strategies for dealing with unfamiliar vocabulary in English.
Start a conversation topic with so
One of the first questions Julia asked Tina was “So, did you get the invite for the conversation class this Friday?” Using so in English is a good way to start a new conversation topic. Here is another example:
So, are you feeling better today? Kelly told me you called in sick yesterday.
Yeah, I had the worst headache. I’m good now. Thanks for asking!
Check your understanding with so
When Julia asks “So you are going to the cooking class? Can I RSVP for both of us?” she is using so to confirm that Tina would like to attend the cooking class. Earlier, she had said that she was interested in going but didn’t really confirm. Many ESL students need to practice this speaking strategy in English, especially when they draw a conclusion but want to confirm whether they are correct or not.
Here is another example:
Hannah, I’m not feeling well.
Oh no, I’m sorry.
Yeah, I guess I have a cold or something.
So you are not going to the party tonight, are you?
No. I think I should stay home and rest. Yeah, you’re right.
Pause or let the other person draw a conclusion with so
Here is another great speaking tip for ESL students. You can use so to pause a sentence. This gives another person an opportunity to draw a conclusion. Remember when Tina says “Yeah. To be honest, I am still not very confident with my English. I went to one of those a few weeks ago and I didn’t have a good time, so…”? In this case, she is letting the other person finish her thoughts. The conclusion here is that she will not go to the event because she didn’t have a good experience when she went to the same type of event weeks before. Here is another example:
Richard, can I stop by your house around 11 a.m.?
I will be at the gym at 11 a.m., so …
Oh ok. No worries. What time should I stop by then?
I’ll be home around 1 p.m. Does that work for you?
Yeah. See you later, then!
Close a conversation topic with so in English
After they talk about the conversation class and the cooking class, Tina says “So, yeah. Should we grab a coffee before class starts? It’s still 8:45.” She uses “so” to close the topic about the English class events and then starts a new topic.
Megan, are you going to the movies this evening?
I was going to, but my car broke down. So, yeah. I’ll just stay home and watch something on Netflix.
Express consequence with so
We can also use so in English as another way to say therefore. For example, you can say:
- I didn’t set up my alarm, so I woke up late.
- I always have my umbrella with me, so I didn’t get wet when it started raining.
- It is late, so I will go to bed.
Emphasize a description with so
When we want to intensify an adjective to emphasize the description of something, we can also use so. For instance, one can say:
- I passed the test. I’m so happy!
- This car is so much more expensive than the other one.
- My mom’s computer is so old! I will get her a new one for her birthday.
Intonation speaking tips: certainty or checking
When using “so”, we can also rely on our intonation to express certainty about a fact or to check a piece of information we are not 100% sure about. For instance, if we are sure about what is being said the intonation will fall..
If you are sure, your intonation will fall:
- So you are not going to the movies.
- So you are not going to Thailand anymore.
If you are checking the information, your intonation will rise:
- So you are not going to attend the event?
- So you are going to England tomorrow?
So, we hope these ESL speaking tips with so in English conversation help you communicate better. Remember that using so in English is possible in many ways: to start or to close a topic, to check our understanding, or to pause and let the other person draw a conclusion. Learn more tips for improving your speaking in English. Happy studying!