Why start a sentence with OK ..., Right ..., So ...,

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Cracker Jack, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    I have always wondered why some native speakers especially Americans start their sentences, even conversations with ok. Even here, some threads are started with OK. Correct me if I'm mistaken. The only way I know of starting a sentence with OK is when I am being asked a favor which I agree to grant.


    A: Could you please do this for me?
    B: OK, with pleasure.

    C: Come on please, please, please.
    D: OK. OK. OK.

    However, it seems like there is also an indiscriminate use of Ok as a sentence starter.


    OK. I started this thread because....

    OK. You won't believe it but....

    OK. Listen to me, I've got something to tell you...

    Can you please shed light on this matter? Thanks a lot.
  2. Musical Chairs Senior Member

    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    It's just something people say a lot, like "like" and "you know" and "um." Every language has words like that, right?

    You still wouldn't do it in writing. It's only acceptable in speech.
  3. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    It means to focus, like if a few conversations are going on and you want to focus on what you're going to say, or announce to everyone else you're going to say something, or also to alert people to pay attention.
  4. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    OK is a signal that your interlocutor now has your attention, and it also gives the speaker time to prepare mentally what he is going to say. Every language has these gap-fillers/ stalling devices. Arabic for instance uses ya3ni in this way. I wonder what English-speakers used for this purpose before the Americans came up with OK and the British took it over? But the Americans don't know where they got it from, the old story about some president who approved documents by writing OK on them standing for Orl Kerrek because he couldn't spell All Correct, being highly doubtful.
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Living around quite a few Spanish speakers, I'd have to say that "bueno" seems to serve the same purpose in Spanish, at least around here. I can't tell you the number of times each day that I hear "bueno" as the first word of a sentence. :)

    As others have said, it's a filler word, an attention-getter, a nervous habit, a verbal stutter. I think it's part of human nature; every language seems to have them.
  6. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English

    Well then, back to "OK".

    Alright, let's discuss "OK".

    So then, we were discussing "OK".

    Well then, alright, so then, before we had "OK" I guess we just did without it.

    So, therefore I am in agreement with most of what you said, except that there are many ways to fum-fer in the beginning of a sentence besides using "OK".
  7. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    OK, fum-fer? I've never heard that term.
  8. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    It is Yiddish. It means to mumble, stutter and stall, especially while gathering your thoughts.

    OK. You know how it is, you kinda like, you know just fum-fer.

    See: http://www.yiddishforyankees.com/Sample.htm
  9. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Was anyone suggesting that OK was the only word? I agree with all of Packard's alternates. They're all used.

    "So" is a very common "starter word" in California... "So I was going to the beach last week and I was on the 405 and..." :)
  10. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    I believe in BE you have "Right".

    --Right, should we start now?
    --Right, I gather that.......
  11. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale

    A: Could you please do this for me?
    B: OK, with pleasure.

    A: Could you please do this for me?
    B: Certainly, with pleasure.

    The meaning is the same.
  12. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
  13. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    The main dilatory device still used by the dwindling number of those in Britain who jingoistically eschew the Americanism O.K. (which took root here mainly in WWII) is ...er....er... . But to err is human, they say (bad joke).:D
  14. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    I suppose now (with a comma) would also play a similar role.

    OK./Now, I started this thread because....

    OK./Now, you won't believe it but....

    Now, listen to me, I've got something to tell you...
  15. nichec

    nichec Senior Member


    A good one!!!!! There's also "well......." "Look.........' and our dear panj's favorite: (Grunt)
  16. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    OK, thanks a lot. LOL.

    I have fallen prey to it. Anyway, now it's much clearer. Although as some of you pointed out, it is only allowable in conversation but not in writing. But since in literature, some rules are meant to be broken, I expect to find it in books too. Especially in a dialogue with quotation marks. What do you think?

    Thanks a lot to you all for your replies.
  17. tomandjerryfan

    tomandjerryfan Senior Member

    English (Canada)
    Definitely! In a dialogue where the main idea is to "capture the spirit" of a normal conversation, words like "OK" and "so," and many other informal options, may be considered. :)
  18. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    When writing here, and only here, I find myself often deleting introductory words like this:
    So, ...
    OK, ...
    Well, ...
    Right, ...

    It is the written equivalent of the conversational ploy suggested by Alex and Arrius. The conversational ploy causes people to turn their attention to ME before the real content of what I want to say begins.
    It is, of course, unnecessary in written communication. But writing in these forums is a strange compromise between writing and speech.
  19. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Now distressingly common in the UK too, along with the equally meaningless and infuriating I mean: "I mean have you heard the latest news?":mad::mad::mad:

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