The Word ‘So’
So, what would you like to learn about today? Are you studying English so that you can pass an exam? Do you want to learn English so as to be able to speak to people from other countries? The word ‘so’ can be used be many different ways. In this blog we’ll study these different ways, give some examples, and you can test yourself in the quiz. So let’s go!
The word ‘so’ can be used in five different ways:
- ‘So’ can mean therefore, consequently or as a result.
- ‘So that’ can mean in order that
- ‘So as to’ can mean in order to
- ‘and so on’ means etcetera
- ‘So’ can also be used as a way to start a conversation, or introduce a new topic of conversation.
Therefore, consequently, as a result
So, as we know, the word ‘so’ can be used to mean therefore, consequently or as a result. ‘So’ is generally an informal word and is therefore very common in spoken English For example:
The weather was sunny so we went to the beach
In this sentence, the word ‘so’ means ‘therefore, consequently’ or ‘as a result’ . If we wanted the sentence to sound more formal – maybe we are writing a letter of complaint – we could write:
‘The weather was sunny. Therefore, we went to the beach.’
Here’s another example:
The food was delicious so I ate two portions.
If we wanted to sound more formal we could say:
The food was delicious. As a result, I ate two portions.
In order that
The expression ‘so that’ is used to talk about purpose – to say why something is done. We often use ‘so that’ with modal verbs. For example:
I brought some food with me so that we don’t have to stop at a shop.
She did a Spanish course so that she can talk to locals when on holiday.
In these examples we can omit ‘that’ and say:
I brought some food with me so we don’t have to stop at a shop.
She did a Spanish course so she can talk to locals when on holiday.
In formal writing ‘in order that’ can be used a the beginning of the sentence:
In order that goods arrive at the specified time, please provide a postcode.
In order to
the expression ‘so as to’ is also used to talk about purpose. It has the same meaning as ‘in order to’.
Notice that after ‘so that’ we need to use subject + verb, whereas after ‘so as to’ we don’t have a subject.
June shopped online so as to save money.
June shopped online so that she could save money.
Or we could say:
June shopped online in order to save money.
Here’s another example:
Diana wears a coat so as to keep warm.
Diana wears a coat so that she can keep warm.
Or we could say:
Diana wears a coat in order to keep warm.
Here are some example sentences of the word ‘so as to’ with the meaning of ‘in order to’
‘June shopped online so as to save money.’ We could rewrite this sentence and say:
‘June shopped online in order to save money.’
‘Diana wears a coat so as to keep warm.’ We could also rewrite this sentence and say:
‘Diana wears a coat in order to keep warm.’
Here are some example sentences of the words ‘and so on’ with the meaning of ‘etc.’
Josh likes sports. He plays basketball, football, rugby and so on.
Maria has visited Africa, Asia, North America and so on.
‘So’ is also a very common way of starting a conversation, a presentation or a speech. Used in this way ‘so’ doesn’t have a strong meaning. It’s a ‘filler’ word which makes spoken English sound more natural and friendly. Here are some examples:
When you meet a friend you can say:
So, how’s life?
So, did you apply for that job?
If you’re giving a presentation, you could say:
So, I’d like to begin by thanking you all for coming here today.
So, as you can see on the chart, sales increased by 20% last month.
We also use ‘so’ to change the subject or ‘move on’ to the next topic in a presentation or speech:
So, now let’s take a look at a short video of the team in action.
So, moving on to production, let’s discuss the latest figures.
The uses of 'So'
So: therefore, consequently, as a result
It was raining so we decided to stay at home.
So that: in order that
I’m learning English so that I can study at university in England.
So as to: in order to
I’m going to the sop so as to buy some bread.
And so on: etc.
I went to the store and bought some milk, cheese, bread, and so on.
So: Used to start a conversation
So, how are things?