OK, so never start a sentence with these 10 words…

By Laura Bergells on
Three wise monkeys

No offense, but I recently had to leave a lecture because the speaker began every other sentence with either “So…” or “Alright, so…”

His information may have been spectacular, but after a half hour, I felt too distracted to listen anymore. When your audience starts playing a mental drinking game based on taking a sip every time you say “so” and downing the whole glass every time you begin a sentence with the word “so” — and they’re hammered in 5 minutes — you might want to face the problem.

Saying “so” is so over.

The dreadful part about saying “so” is that it’s insanely catchy. A half-hour of listening to someone repeat so like a neurotic cuckoo clock, and you’ll find yourself doing the same damn thing. The “so” phenomenon has spread like wildfire over the past few years. If we’re conscious of it, maybe we can make that little devil go away.

I’m trying like mad to drop that absurd little word from the start of my sentences, and it’s going pretty well. But all I have to do is listen to an interview on NPR for 10 minutes in the car, and it comes galloping back at my next meeting.

Vexed, I scrawled a list in my Moleskine: Top 10 words never to begin a sentence with –

1. So…

2. OK. So…

3. Alright, so…

4. Alright…

5. OK.

6. No offense, but…

7. I think…

8. I feel…

9. Ahem…

10. Just…

It’s a hastily scrawled list, based largely on my own annoyance that these words have actually flown out of my mouth. It’s a monkey-hear, monkey-say situation: I hear these phrases and I repeat these phrases.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to stop saying these phrases with any kind of frequency. If one slips into my speech a time or two, that’s acceptable. But I don’t want to have it escalate into a drinking-game distraction!

What “stop words” are on your Top 10 lists?

26 comments

  1. Not an exhaustive list, but at the top of my hit parade:

    To be honest…

    Let me put it this way…

    Again…

    Like (as a conjunction)

    “Utilize”

    “Theoretically”

  2. you know…
    They will know, just say it.

    I was thinking…
    No need to say the thought you are thinking, just say the thought.

  3. “The fact is,” or its needlessly elaborate alternative that a friend of mine used all the time: “The thing of it is, is that…”

  4. Um, so OK, but no pun intended, really. Um, you know, and then little Johnny said… Um, and anyway, everybody knows that anyways and nohow ain’t words.

  5. “…like…”
    As a transplant to, like, California, I really, like, have a hard time with the, umm, interjected use of “LIKE” to, like, fill airtime while I, like, figure out what to say next or get around to, like, the specific words that mean something.

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