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I don't fully understand the use of "so" at the beginning of a clause.

We can use "so" at the beginning of a clause with "say", "hear", "understand", "tell", "believe", and a number of other verbs. This structure is used to say how the speaker learned something.

  1. It's going to be a cold winter, or so the newspaper says.
  2. Mary's getting married. ~ Yes, so I heard.
  3. The Professor's ill. So I understand.

I can get all that there has been asserted but for the bold part.

  • 2
    I’m completely baffled by the fact that you bolded the entire first phrase and none of the other two. What is it about “the newspaper says” that you’re having trouble understanding? – Scott Sep 20 '14 at 0:13
  • I changed the bolding to match better with the actual question. Please feel free to roll back my changes if you feel they've been made in error. – snailcar Sep 20 '14 at 2:40
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See the first definition here.

To parse the sentence in a slightly different way.

"It's going to be a cold winter", or at least that is the indication of the newspaper.

  • Is this my answer? or so approximately: fifty or so people came to see me. – nima Sep 19 '14 at 17:10
  • No, that's a different meaning. I was linking to the first definition of the adverbial section. You may also refer to definition 4 of the adjective section. – JMB Sep 19 '14 at 17:11
  • would you please more readily explain the bold part? I cannot get who is telling it? who is accept.. – nima Sep 19 '14 at 17:32
  • In example 1 the bold part is the same person affirming why it is going to be a cold winter. The second is a second person agreeing with the first ("so" in that case is "Mary is getting married"). The third is the same as the second. Does that help you more? (I may have misunderstood your comment). – JMB Sep 21 '14 at 13:47
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The phrase "so the newspaper says" is not used to show how I learned the weather prediction, but to advise my listener that I don't necessarily believe what I read.

In your example, let's say I am speaking:

Me (speaking): It's going to be a cold winter...
Me (thinking, not speaking): I learned that in a newspaper. Newspapers are always wrong about the weather. I don't want someone to think I am wrong.
Me (speaking again): or so the newspaper says.

I add "or so the newspaper says" to say that I do not really agree with the newspaper.

The phrase "or so _ says" is used to tell the audience, "This is not my opinion, but something I heard somewhere. Do not be mad at me if it turns out this is wrong."

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We can use “so” at the beginning of a clause with “say”, “hear”, “understand”, “tell”, “believe”, and a number of other verbs.  This structure is used to say how the speaker learned something.

That is, pardon me for saying so, a grossly oversimplified, overspecialized interpretation of what those phrases mean.  See the definition that JMB referenced – “so” means “thus”.  If you Google “so goes”, you’ll find a multitude of phrases like

  • As Maine goes, so goes the nation
  • As China goes, so goes the world

etc.  These mean, for example,

Maine goes in a certain way. And the nation goes in the same way.  (or The nation goes thus.  or The nation goes thusly.)

Similarly,

It’s going to be a cold winter, or so the newspaper says.

means.

It’s going to be a cold winter.  The newspaper says that.  (or The newspaper says so.)

  • thanks .But, my last question: I am wondering the reason why you use or here? – nima Sep 20 '14 at 2:42

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