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Using ‘So’ and ‘Well’ as Fillers

‘Well’ and ‘So’ as Spaces Filling up in Speech


In every day talk, language is not just about words, but how we use the words. At times, what may appear to be verbal pauses or filler expressions can convey meaning, purpose and even emotions. These two words “so” and “well” often come out in our dialogues. But have you ever asked yourself why the usage of these words is so rampant in our speech? And also what are their roles in communication?

The present article will examine the use of “so” and “well” as fillers. It will explore their impact on conversations, their connotations and why they remain important despite being filled with nothingness.

Understanding Fillers

What are Fillers?

Fillers are sounds or words uttered by speakers to complete a speech void. They do not necessarily add any information but play practical roles in keeping conversations going.

Examples of Common Fillers:



“You know”


“Sort of”

Purpose of Fillers

Fillers though often seen as speech imperfections do have a purpose:

Pausing for Thought: Filler provides the speaker with a second to think without making it awkwardly silent.

Engaging Listeners: This means there is more that is coming; listener’s attention are maintained thus.

Softening Statements: They make them less direct by using language that suggests alternatives like probably.

The Functional Utility of “So”

Initiating Conversations

‘So’ is usually employed when one wants to start a chat or introduce new subjects. The informal opener is an indication that something really important or interesting will be deliberated on.

“Sooo, how did your weekend go?”

Summarizing or Concluding

‘So’ serves well in summarizing arguments and drawing conclusions so as to indicate that an idea has reached its apex.

“Soo, what we need to focus on next is…”

Creating Emphasis

To emphasize the significance or drama of a situation, ‘so’ comes in handy. It adds an emotional dimension to any subject matter under consideration.

“So, this happened…”

The Role of “Well” in Communication

Softening Responses

After that news given out may be unwelcome softeners are used and one such word is well. It cushions the blow.

“Well, I think we should reconsider our options.”

Introducing Hesitation or Uncertainty

As a polite hesitation marker used by someone who either requires more time to think through or who holds some doubts over what they are going say “well” comes into play.

“Well, I’m not entirely sure about that…”

Transitioning Between Ideas

In conversation, ‘Well’ is used as it can come between different points. Thereby signaling the change in direction of argumentation.

“Well, that’s one way to look at it but let us consider this perspective…”

Interesting Anecdotes

Real-Life Examples

Back in college, I had a professor who would always start his lectures with ‘so’. It became like an unofficial signal to the class that it was about to start and it also created a unifying rhythm that students became sensitized to, denoting concentration and collective focus.
When studying linguistic fillers, researchers observed significant influences on how listeners perceive them. A study conducted and published in 2014 in the Journal of Pragmatics established that ‘so’ and ‘well’ are just examples of functional fillers that help manage discourse as well as engage listeners. Source
The Usage Nuances
Variations between Cultures

Different cultures use different filler words, and their application can vary greatly. In Japanese “eto” or “ano” are common filled pauses serving similar purposes as “so” or “well” do in English.

Formal vs Informal Settings

On different occasions, the suitability of using “so” or “well” may differ. In formal situations they may be seen as indicators of lack of confidence whereas during informal talks they bring out a relaxed mood.

Tricks for Using Them Mindfully

Though common while speaking, fillers put too close can result to better clarity and professionalism.
Use short breaks instead of saying this.
Listen to your speech by recording it so you will know when you use too many fillers.
Replace repetitive phrases with brief silent pauses


“So” and “well” are neither empty words nor a gap, but an integral part of our daily language that helps the conversation flow, adjust its tone and engage in active communication. By understanding their meaning and being cautious about their application, you will be able to improve your skills in making contacts with others, which means that you will become more efficient as a good speaker.

The role played by fillers may seem insignificant; however, they play a very vital part in human interaction. Thus the next time you notice yourself using one just keep in mind that it is all part of conversational art.

“Use your words purposefully and recognize the nuances that “so” or “well” can add to casual conversations.”

If you would like more information on how these aspects affect conversations please see this study on fillers as social signals.

Have fun talking!