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Christa

所以 / 那 at the beginning of a sentence

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Christa

Something I learnt quite early on in Chinese was putting 那  at the beginning of a sentence to mean "so" or "in that case..."

 

I've recently noticed people using 所以 to do this instead though. Does this seem correct to you? Personally, I've only ever really used 所以 as a mid-sentence conjunction to say think like "he's really mean to me, so I don't like him."

 

But is it alright to use it to say things like "so, do you wanna go out?" / "so, do you like my brother?" / "so, what do you wanna do?"

 

Is it alright to use 所以 for this kind of thing?

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889

-- 今天天气好冷!

 

-- 所以你不想去游泳?

 

You really need some examples in Chinese context. Sometimes a usage that seems odd in isolation sounds fine in proper context.

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Geiko

I also found this entry in Pleco, I'm not sure if it's what you mean, @Christa

S80312-160907(1).jpg

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Christa
4 hours ago, 889 said:

You really need some examples in Chinese context. Sometimes a usage that seems odd in isolation sounds fine in proper context.

 

Yes, good point.

 

How about this as an example: you sit down at a tea house with a friend you haven't seen for a while and say "所以,你最近怎麼樣?" or you've been chatting with someone and the conversation begins to go a little and quiet, so you say "所以,你明天要做什麼?"

 

Does using 所以 here seem correct to you?

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ZC
2 hours ago, Christa said:

you sit down at a tea house with a friend you haven't seen for a while and say "所以,你最近怎麼樣?" or you've been chatting with someone and the conversation begins to go a little and quiet, so you say "所以,你明天要做什麼?"

 

I was talking with a Chinese friend and tried this (because I had then not heard of the 那 construction) and she said that it was a bit confusing because 所以 is not a common interjection sort of sentence opener. She suggested 那  or 那么 but I’m not sure if 那么 is southern or standard. I’m also interested in other ways to start sentences because I don’t want to sound robotic/repetitive XD

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Christa
8 hours ago, ZC said:

I’m not sure if 那么 is southern or standard

 

I think 那么 is quite standard.

 

8 hours ago, ZC said:

and she said that it was a bit confusing because 所以 is not a common interjection sort of sentence opener

 

Interesting. So, based on this, it does sound like it's an odd way to begin a sentence.

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889

I wouldn't use it in that example. I'd use it at the beginning of a sentence in similar context to "So therefore, . . ." usually in question form, rhetorical or direct. Not to say there might not be other situations appropriate for that usage.

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Christa
43 minutes ago, 889 said:

I wouldn't use it in that example. I'd use it at the beginning of a sentence in similar context to "So therefore, . . ." usually in question form, rhetorical or direct. Not to say there might not be other situations appropriate for that usage.

 

In that case, what would you use in place of 所以 in a sentence like 所以,你最近怎麼樣?

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889

Probably 那. Or maybe nothing. Or maybe a name: 老王,你最近 . . .

 

Of course when you ask someone how they'd say something you rarely get what they'd say in practice. Thinking about it changes the response.

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Christa
1 hour ago, 889 said:

 

Of course when you ask someone how they'd say something you rarely get what they'd say in practice. Thinking about it changes the response.

 

That's definitely true. Get a group of people in a room and ask them how they say something. Then record them chatting afterwards and they all say something else.

 

I suppose what I really want to know is whether 所以 is an acceptable conversation opener. From what's been said here, I think it probably is a bit weird, at least some of the time.

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陳德聰

那(麼) is pretty neutral and versatile, it can refer to what was just said in a “既然...那麼...” sense of “well in that case...” or it can just be a sentence starter interjection that doesn’t really mean much other than “I’m starting a sentence and wanna put something at the front that vaguely acknowledges we’ve been talking already”.

 

所以 is more limited to the “因為...所以...” sense of “that’s why...” or the kind of sarcastic conversation transition topic-changer/topic-re-bringer-upper that we might know as “soooooooooo....”

 

E.g. You and your friends are trying to decide where to eat dinner. They get sidetracked and start bickering or gossiping or something and so you say “所以... 我們去哪裡吃飯呢?” like “So where are we going for dinner?”

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Christa
2 hours ago, 陳德聰 said:

所以 is more limited to the “因為...所以...” sense of “that’s why...” or the kind of sarcastic conversation transition topic-changer/topic-re-bringer-upper that we might know as “soooooooooo....”

 

E.g. You and your friends are trying to decide where to eat dinner. They get sidetracked and start bickering or gossiping or something and so you say “所以... 我們去哪裡吃飯呢?” like “So where are we going for dinner?”

 

In that case, 陳德聰, do you think that the same kind of soooo... 所以 would make "所以... 你最近怎麼樣?" a plausible sentence? 

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陳德聰

I think it only works if you had originally been asking how the person had been lately, and they interrupted you or went off on a tangent and didn’t really answer your question the first time.

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ZC

Right, I think that 所以 only works to open a sentence that would start with “so” in English when the ‘so’ has gave a real grammatical purpose i.e. when so means something other than “I will begin talking now” 所以 is okay.

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Christa

Interesting. Yeah that seems to make sense. It would only work with a very particular type of mood.

 

Thanks everyone :lol:

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