That Pesky Word “So”

Margie Wakeman Wells General, Uncategorized 4 Comments

The rules for “so”:

When it means “so that” and implies the reason for doing something, it begins a dependent clause which, at the end of the sentence, gets no punctuation.

…I sent it to her so I could get her opinion on the content.
…He called so he could verify the information.

When it means “therefore,” it starts a new sentence and gets a semicolon or period in front of it.

…I didn’t know; so I couldn’t really do anything about it.
…She was underage; so there was no question of whether she was allowed into the event.

I know that there are people that support the idea that “so” can be just like “and” and “but.” I don’t think it is the same kind of word. “So” is really an adverb. And when an adverb is pulled out in front of a sentence, it becomes a conjunction and is called a “conjunctive adverb.” A conjunctive adverbs begins a brand-new sentence and needs a semicolon or a period in front of it.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Comments 4

  1. Clarification, please! The “therefores” sometimes confuse me. If “so” means “therefore,” then would the sentence “I didn’t know; so I couldn’t really do anything about it” when substituting “therefore” for “so” be punctuated as:

    “I didn’t know; therefore I couldn’t really do anything about it”? OR would it be: “I didn’t know; therefore, I couldn’t really do anything about it,” with a comma after “therefore”? And why does this confuse me? Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author

      When the word “therefore” and any others that have more than one syllable begin a sentence, there is a comma after; when the word “so” and any others that are only one syllable begin the sentence, there is no comma after.

      Hope this helps.

      Have a lovely holiday.

      Margie

    1. Post
      Author

      Semicolon before. It still means “therefore” when they trail off. Dash or ellipsis after.

      Have a lovely day.

      Margie

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