So is probably the most important discourse marker on our list since it's basically used to let people know that you're about to tell a story. But it has other uses within the story, as we'll see here. We're most familiar with so used as a conjunction. We normaly use it when there's a cause and effect: because of [xxx], therefore [xxx]. For example, I was getting drowsy, so I drank a cup of coffee. Here we see that there was a cause — the speaker was getting drowsy, and an effect — they drank a cup of coffee.

But like so many English words, so wears lots of hats, and one of them is that of a discourse marker. In that role, it doesn't express an effect. In fact, it's the first word in our first blogpost, so clearly there's no "cause" in front of it. As a discourse marker, it simply says Hey, I'm about to tell you something, so listen up... and this can be a story, your version of something that happened, an explanation of something in your own words, an answer to a question that requires a longish answer, etc. As such, it has no real, translatable meaning — it's merely a marker, a kind of warning that you're about to talk about something and you're not going to be brief.

In this excerpt from our first blog, Nacho & Flor, we see so in its most common place — at the beginning of the story. And it's function here is precisely that — to let you know that this is a story of some sort.But notice that it's also used at different points within the story to mark new developments during the course of the narrative. It might help to think of it as a spoken "new paragraph" in your narrative, as in this example.

Here we see that so can also be repeated when you want to highlight certain things and keep them separate — especially complicated details like the timeline at the beginning of this paragraph. Again, it's main function here is to tell the listener to pay close attention.

So there's this woman on my floor, Samantha, who has two chihuahuas, Nacho and Flor.


So that night, I get a text from Samantha: "Hey, my dog-walker just bailed on me last minute. You think you can help me out?" Well, I was livid. It was so obvious that she actually fired the dog-walker because she figured I was willing to do everything for free. Well, nice is nice, but this was too much. So* I told her I was sorry, but I thought she should just go ahead and hire a new dog-walker.

Alright, so that was Friday night, and Samantha left on Saturday morning. So Saturday night, at 11, I went to say goodnight to Nacho and Flor. I cracked the door open and they started gnarling and yipping like crazy, so* I closed the door and hauled ass.


*This so isn't our discourse marker — it's actually the cause-and-effect conjunction that means therefore in response to the preceding statement: the dogs started barking, therefore I closed the door...