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So in English I often start sentences with the word 'so'. Often I do this when beginning an explanation, but there are heaps of other uses too, like when telling a story or when expecting an answer from somebody.

An example I just read was:

'So a friend of mine...'

Other uses are

So, how is your report going?

So the way it works is...

Are there similar ways of expressing this in Spanish? I understand there might not be an equivalent in Spanish but is there anything similar?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

So, in this context... Pardon, let me start again...

So, so, in this context, is known as a discourse marker (see relevant English L&U question), of which there are many others, including (from wikipedia) you know, actually, basically, like, I mean, and okay. The description of discourse markers taken from wikipedia reads:

In linguistics, a discourse marker is a word or phrase that is relatively syntax-independent and does not change the meaning of the sentence, and has a somewhat empty meaning.

In your first example, the word so can be replaced with any of these with the same grammatical construct resulting, and little or no change in meaning.

Spanish also has this concept, known as marcadores de discurso. Some common ones in Spanish (agian taken from wikipedia) are: pues, pues bien, así las cosas, and dicho esto/eso.

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Depending on the way you use so, you have different choices in Spanish.

In this case:

So a friend of mine

Resulta que...

Resulta que un amigo... / Pues resulta que un amigo...

And in this one:

So the way it works...

Así que la forma en que funciona... / Pues la forma en que funciona...

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