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I've come across several instances in manga where the simple question of "で?" is used. What could it mean? I'm guessing it means something like "Is that so?," but I'm not sure.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's basically a shortening of それで何?, meaning something along the lines of 'and so...?' or 'then what?' It asks for either a continuation of the thought (especially in a story or something else temporally organised) or a conclusion (as in 'what you just said is setting something up, what is it?').

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I think this answer is the most accurate, and I would add that a workable translation is to think of it as simply "And...?" It can be used somewhat neutrally when someone has left you hanging with an incomplete thought, or it can also be used with a negative implication of "what are you going on about?" –  Questioner Nov 1 '13 at 0:18

An abbreviation of 'それで何?'('Then what?' or 'So what?'). This phrase can be used to express both indifference or interest, in a conversation typically between close friends.

I think it does not translate to 'Is that so?'.

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I don't think "So what?" has the right nuance. "So what?" implies that a person understands something completely but what they want to hear next is a reason to care. With で?, a person does not yet feel they have full understanding, and a decision about caring would come later, after the full idea has been made clear. –  Questioner Nov 1 '13 at 0:26

As the others says, it can be a short version of それで何. To know what else it can mean, though, remember that で, as a particle, is also used to give a reason for something, as in 何で. In response to something someone said, it's likely meant to be used the same way 'So' is to ask why they should give a flying flip about what they said.

Example:

タバコは健康{けんこう}に悪い。

(Tobacco is bad for you)

take a puff and blows it into the open air

(So?)

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