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"So yeah,...."

"All right, so..."

I sometimes hear these two expressions being used when people start talking about something to other people. For example, I hear that some teachers say "All right, so" before they start explaining the subject.

And I also hear people use "So yeah,..." when they want to start to talk about a real issue on TV, and it acts as a signal that they want to stop the irrelevant things they are currently talking about, and want to start to talk about the main issue.

But, in the end, they both seem to be used at the start of talking about something. So I wonder are they interchangeable?

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    Just a comment: it's better not to copy these. Native speakers don't automatically speak flawless English.
    – Therac
    Commented Feb 13 at 9:02
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    PLEASE don't get in the habit of starting nearly every sentence with "So..."
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 13 at 14:13
  • Pretty sure they're saying "alright"!! "All right" is way too formal for a meaningless word whose only purpose is to give the speaker time to collect their thoughts
    – Stef
    Commented Feb 13 at 23:31

2 Answers 2

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These are discourse markers, and have no meaning of their own. In that sense, they are interchangeable.

But, having said that, some people can interpret some discourse markers with quite strong social meanings, that are difficult to pin down and define; while others may not notice them at all.

For example, some people object to hearing So, at the beginning of an answer, because they think that so should only be used to express a consequence of something that has just been said.

For another example, I find an answer starting Look, (as many politicans do when being interviewed in the UK) as rather condescending, implying something like "I think this is obvious, and you must be stupid to ask me it". (Of course few politicians would say such things explicitly). Other people may not take the same implication from it as I do.

For these reason, I would not advise using one of these in a different social context from where you heard it.

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    Yes. Tony Blair famously uses 'Look'. Some people allege that Nigel Farage uses 'Let me finish!" as a discourse marker. Commented Feb 12 at 18:30
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    I don't necessarily object to hearing So, at the beginning of an answer. What I find peculiar is people starting a "conversation" (verbal interaction) with So when there's no obvious context whereby that initial utterance can be seen as consequence of something that has just been said. Since nothing has been said, I'm constantly baffled by what that initial So is supposed to reference. Quite a few querents here start their questions with So, and I used to think it was just an nns thing, but it's now obvious to me many native Anglophones are doing it too. Commented Feb 12 at 18:34
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    I live in the US midwest, and I can't remember a time in my life when people didn't use "so" like that. It has been entirely common here for at least the last 35 years, and I would be surprised if it hadn't been for much longer than that.
    – YonKuma
    Commented Feb 12 at 18:43
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    @yunus Also, note: Since these phrases add nothing to the overall meaning, you might be best off as a learner avoiding them. They often serve no conversational purpose except to hold the speaker's "place in line" while they collect their thoughts (as when the teacher thinks about the best way to start explaining the subject). There's no harm in using something that expresses this directly, like "Let me see...". I often use "a ver..." when I'm speaking Spanish to signal that I'm taking a second to remember the right word to use. Commented Feb 12 at 19:28
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    @FumbleFingers almost any question on Stack Overflow (SO, heh) starting with "so" is likely to be junk. "So I'm trying to do...", "So I'm having a problem...". I think there can be a narrative context to it, like a documentary or recalling some dramatic event - "So, there I was, amid a pack of lions, and..." which would make sense even if the previous conversation was "Tell us about your holiday", which doesn't necessarily link properly. In other words, I think people think it conveys a struggle/hardship through a narrative style
    – roganjosh
    Commented Feb 13 at 12:31
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"So yeah,...."

"All right, so..."

Both those are discourse markers as pointed out by Colin Fine.

However, they are used in response to a previous situation or context in conversation. You normally do not use them ex nihilo.

Also, if you hear a presenter or actor say those at an award ceremony, they are referring to what has just been seen or heard on the stage. That is just an example.

"So yeah" (So, yes is more formal) is much more informal than "All right, so etc."

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    Such phrases can also be used (by a teacher, lecturer, etc) to quieten a room or attract attention, or for similar purposes. You might argue that such usages are in response to a situation, but nothing is ex nihilo.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 13 at 13:32
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    @StuartF Yes, that would be a prior situation. A way to say: May I have your attention. But you would not be sitting quietly reading in your living room with your spouse who is also reading and out of the blue (ex nihilo) say one of those.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 13 at 14:41

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