“Friends” is so trendsetting

The characters on the television program "Friends" are apparently trendsetters in the use of the word "so".

[People with way too much time on their hands] spent a year going through transcripts from each episode of the first eight seasons of Friends, taking note of every single adjective... [T]he show's popularity peaked at the same time the characters said "so" the most, and as the use of the word declined, so did the show's popularity.

So that's how to rescue the show: Make people say "so" more.

So if I use the word "so" more, maybe that'll increase my popularity. Yes, it's so shallow of me, but so what?

Grammar nitpick: "so" in the phrase "so cool" is an adverb, not an adjective.

Raymond's brush with fame: I actually know one of the writers on "Friends".

Comments (9)
  1. So…where do you stand on the question of whether "so" is the official "um" (verbal punctuation or thought placeholder) at Microsoft? I’ve often noted that most Microsoft speakers use "so" to give them time to form their thoughts when answering questions, and having been through the Wagg-Ed executive training (through INETA), I suspect I know why.

    But I wonder…is it as apparent from within as from without?

  2. Raymond Chen says:

    Andrew: I had never noticed that before, but I’ll start paying more attention now!

  3. Timwi says:

    In what situation, for example, would "so" ever be an adjective?

  4. Mike says:


    "That’s so 90’s." – Actually spoken to a friend of mine when he tried to order Creme Brulee.

  5. Raymond Chen says:

    Actually, in that case, "so" is still an adverb, modifying the adjective "90’s".

    Adjectival use is relegated mostly to set phrases nowadays. "Do it just so" ("do it the way I am showing you") or "That is not so" ("that is not true").

  6. Chris says:

    If you say so.

  7. Peter Torr says:

    Yes, "so" is very visible when you first get to Microsoft. I commented on this on Raymond’s earlier entry on words to ban.


  8. Edward says:

    It’s strange the people in MS don’t seem to notice all the "So"ing so much. I’ve started watching lots of MS videos since the PDC from .Net Show archives to MSDNTV and presentations. Just about everybody interviewed starts every other sentence with the word "SO".

    I guess after a couple of months working in the MS community you don’t notice this much any more. I expect you start using it yourself without even realising it. But coming from the outside it really does seem strange.

    I guess MS is so big you could come up with a dielect all of your own.

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