Trailing Off with the Word “So”

Margie Wakeman Wells The Dash, The Ellipsis Leave a Comment

There is a difference of opinion about the function of the word “so.” Some think it is a coordinate conjunction like the word “and,” in which case it would take nothing in front of it as it has no subject and verb after it.
Others think it is an adverb that has been turned into a conjunction and takes on the meaning of the word “therefore,” in which case it has a semicolon or period after it. I fall into the latter category.
So [pun intended] I would put a period in front of it when it is used to trail off since it has no content after it to connect to the sentence in front of it.
The next issue is whether one can use a dash for trailing off or whether something else is needed. The dash always works for a sentence that gets started and does not get finished. It does not have to be an interruption that necessitates the dash.
In recent years many have come to use the ellipses to indicate the trailing off. So the answer is that either a dash or an ellipses will work after the word “so.”
…He did not want the job so…
…He did not want the job. So —
…He did not want the job. So…
…He did not want the job. So —
Each one of these works. Pick one and stick to it.

Happy punctuating!


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