Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: so (2).

so (2). Today: For “very” and in “so therefore.” In traditional usage, “so” is a comparative adverb {so cold I could die} {so cumbersome that I don’t want it} {he’s not so tall as she is}. Gradually, speakers and writers began dropping the final part of the comparison {he’s so tall!} {she’s so smart} {it’s so cold}. Essentially, “so” became an intensifier (like “very”) without any necessary sense of comparison — much as “that” is now doing. This use of “so” for “very” remains a casualism. Finally, coupling “so” with “therefore” typically results in a redundancy — e.g.: o “So therefore [read ‘Therefore,’] wise British businesses should carry on with the notion of sterling as a generally strong currency in the medium term.” Hamish McRae, “What Will Happen to the Pound Outside the Eurozone?” Independent, 23 Jan. 2003, at 22. o “So, therefore, [read ‘So’] with all the opportunity for armchair psychoanalyzing, getting to know the real Mr. Archer should be a slam dunk, right?” Carol Herman, “Peer Disgraced but Managing to Thrill, Still,” Wash. Times, 2 Feb. 2003, at B6.
Quotation of the Day: “There is something profoundly unfortunate, we feel, about a person who lies much, and the best thing we can say about anyone who frequently gives us misleading information because of honest bad judgment is that he is a nuisance. Whenever speech is supposed to be informative in a factual sense, we ask that it be made up of clear statements and true ones, so far as that is possible.” Wendell Johnson, Verbal Man: The Enchantment of Words 20 (1956; repr. 1965).
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