where the writers are
“So” is a Pet Peeve

A friend and former colleague of mine sent me an email with the subject line:  Is that just me?   His pet peeve is people’s frequent usage of “So.”  I’m guilty of this.


So I thought about it.  I use "so" instead of “therefore” because I dislike "therefore" so much.  “Therefore” sounds cumbersome and a bit formal.  Besides, I have to hit keys nine times.  “So” needs only two clicks. 


I love "so."  It’s short and handy.  But I used it too many times, so I’d like to use something else if I can.  I’ve been aware of my over usage.  In truth, I want to quit using so or therefore or any of those conjunctive words if possible. 


Many years ago, my boss, Mark, who sat in the cubical next to mine said looking at my report, “Keiko, you don’t have any transition words!  That’s amazing.”  In reply, I did explain to him about my background and the art of Japanese language.  He nodded.  He probably had deeper understanding of this subject than other team members.  His lunch buddy often called in the morning while he was away.  Sometimes, I picked up his call.  Once I left a note as below on his desk.  It said,





He saw it and asked.

“Do you know what this is, Keiko?” 

“You can’t tell?” I said.


“I wrote it.  It’s simple.”

He still looked puzzled, so I said,

“Mark,  Dave called.  Keiko”



Because of Mark’s help, I began adding conjunctives in my sentences and paying attention to them.  But I guess I went overboard.  Now I need to reconsider my over usage of so.  What would you suggest to use instead of so or therefore?  Also how can I use them less often?

By the way, my son's name is Sol.  When I call him, it sounds So.   I probably should add "L" to it. 

4 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Me too!

I have the same problem...I realised a while back, and now am very conscious of "so". Sometimes I re-read my emails, just to make sure there aren't too many tucked in there. I hadn't realised it was a wider problem, I thought it was just me. This intrigues me, that such a little word could have invaded so deeply into the landscape of language use, and so (hah) often remain quietly there. I am of course no help to you finding a solution!

Comment Bubble Tip

Please replace my previous message with this.

Hi Kunzang,


I am honored to receive comments from a Buddhist nun.  Welcome to Red Room! 


Just now I finished reading your blog about your great teacher’s death.  Thank you for his words, “Have no doubt.”  I needed that. 

Comment Bubble Tip

Hi Keiko

I feel that if someone else has a pet peeve it does not mean that another oerson should necessarily change to suit them if they are comfortable with it. It is impossible to please everybody don't you think?

 Of course, if you are really not comfortable with using the word 'so' then have you tried removing the word 'so' and not replacing it with anything at all? Other words and punctuation around it may have to change slightly to accomodate the new sentence structure but if the word 'so' really does bother you then it is a small sacrifice to make to get rid of it effectively.

I think that this is a term that many people use when speaking and then find that when they transfer it to their writing they feel it does not sit right for them. 

Personally I like the word, never seen a problem with it even if I don't use it that much. :) So, what do you think? ;) :P

Comment Bubble Tip

Hi Ryoma,

Yes, I agree. I don’t necessarily change according to other’s pet peeves. I can’t.

My friend meant well though, of course, and he has been always straightforward, courageous, and studious. That’s why we’re friends. It was good timing to receive his broadcast email. I’ve been aware of using many “so.”