Use of "so" in German



In lesson 15.3, we are presented with the sentence:
German: Und ich bin gespannt, was Matthias so zu erzählt hat.
English: And I'm curious about what Matthias has to say.

What function does the word "so" play in this sentence? I assume that it would be possible to simply say, "Und ich bin gespannt, was Matthias zu erzählt hat." What nuance is added here by adding "so"? I'd be grateful for an explanation of the use of "so" in this context. 


This bit of dialogue comes from the audio lesson.
Ich erinnere mich gerne daran, wie ich mit meiner Oma im Garten gespielt habe.
Und ich bin gespannt, was Matthias so zu erzählen hat .
I remember happily how I played with my grandmother in the garden.
And I'm curious about what Matthias has to say.

My guess is that the "so" is there to link back to the previous sentence or perhaps the general theme of the lesson, so that we are expecting Matthias to talk about his childhood memories rather than some random thing.

Would it be better if there was a comma after "habe", so that the whole thing would be one sentence?



An added comma does not clarify it for me, but perhaps something else you said was helpful: that the word "so" refers to a previous sentence in the dialog. I listened again to the dialog, and I can only surmise that "so" would mean "about his (Matthias') childhood memories", based on the following summarised conversation: 

Matthias: "...ich habe trotzdem noch viele Erinnerungen, und von diesen Erinnerungen werde ich euch heute erzählen."

Sandra: "... ich bin gespannt, was Matthias so zu erzählen hat."

If my understanding of the meaning is correct, I would have expected to see the word "dazu" instead of "so". Are these words synonymous in this context? I still feel shaky regarding my  understanding of "so", and how I would construct a sentence with it on my own. 

Thank you for guiding me in the right direction. I'm hoping that Julia will expand on this and perhaps provide a couple of examples for additional clarification.   




Guten Tag PaulS108 und sfpugh,

there are quite a few different uses of "so" in German. It is often used for comparisons, as an intensifier, or to estimate something. 

Let's have a look at your sentence:
"Und ich bin gespannt, was Matthias so zu erzählen hat." -  "And I'm curious about what Matthias has to say."

"So"gives this sentence some sort of vagueness as well as casualness. This would only be used in colloquial speech. If you wanted to be clearer and build a connection to the previous sentence you could say  "Und ich bin gespannt, was Matthias dazu zu erzählen hat." -  "And I'm curious about what Matthias has to say (about that)."

Here are a few examples similar to the "so" in the sentence above:
"Wie geht's dir so?" - "How are you?" / "How are things?"
"Wie geht's sonst so? "How are things apart from that?"
"Was machst du gerade so?" - "What are you doing at the moment?"
"Ich mach mir so meine Gedanken darüber, was ich glauben kann und was nicht." - "My thoughts are on what I can believe and what I cannot."

As a side note, yes, you simplify the sentence and say  "Und ich bin gespannt, was Matthias zu erzählen hat." 

I hope this helps!



Thanks for the explanation Julia it seems I was on the wrong track there.  So this is  a kind of modal use of "so".

I think most of the examples in the course us "so" as the equivalent of "such".
Bozen ist so eine hübsche Stadt 
es ist so ein schöner Tag


Thank you, Julia. Your explanation was very helpful, and seeing the context about which I was asking by way of examples was particularly enlightening. Coincidentally, the exact meaning and use of "so" in this context is also used in Hebrew (I am a Hebrew speaker), so I now understand how and when to use it. 

Someone once told me that Germans are less demonstrative with their hands and their voice inflections for expressing emotion as compared to, for example, people in the Middle East. However, emotional expression through the use of vocabulary is more acute in the German language than in many other languages owing to the use of filler words, such as "mal", "ja" and "doch". Whether or not this is true, the context of "so" in the example: "Und ich bin gespannt, was Matthias so zu erzählen hat.", appears to fall into that category as it does not change the meaning of the sentence, but reflects more the mood or attitude of the speaker. 

Thank you again for your explanation. You continue to be an important part of this course for me regarding points of confusion:)) 


Hallo nochmal!

sfpugh, yes "so" as the equivalent of "such" is definitely used a lot more than the "so" in the discussion above.

PaulS108, that is really interesting what you said about the connection to Hebrew -  even though these two languages seem totally different there are still similarities to be found!
In regards to being less demonstrative with gestures and voice when expressing emotion,  I agree to a certain extent, there is definitely a stronger focus on the use of vocabulary but Germans are also very different depending on the region they come from. 

I appreciate your comment - I am always happy to help :) 




Hi Julia, it was this "such" meaning that led me, through slightly contorted logic, to guess that "so" referred back to the previous sentence.
However using my rule of thumb that it you can't see what a word is doing in a sentence and leaving it out doesn't change the meaning, I should have guessed that it might be a modal particle. :-)

Ask a question or post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

If you are already a member login here.
If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket German trial here.