Is there a comma after so? Many of us struggle with this confusion often when we’re crafting written content. The truth is that punctuation is a tricky business especially when we have to use them with complicated words.
So it maybe easy to spell but there is nothing else easy when it comes to using this word and figuring the correct punctuation with it.
It takes a lot of practice to get the punctuation right but we’re with you in this struggle. We offer a range of workbooks and printable worksheets to help your children polish their punctuation skills.
Below, we also have a detailed explanation to help understand how right or wrong it is to use a comma after so. Keep reading!
The comma after So – Right or Wrong?
Let’s start by sorting out the confusion: in most cases, you really don’t need to use a comma after “so”, or even before it.
The only times you will need a comma after or before is when “so” works as a parenthetical element or coordination conjunction in a sentence.
SO as a Parenthetical Component
According to grammar rules, you have to insert a comma before “so” when you use it for stylistic reasons, such as a parenthetical component. But what is the latter you may ask? Let’s find out:
Parenthetical Component: It is a word or a group of words that add additional but nonessential information to your sentence. The parenthetical component can be long or short and you may add it to the beginning, middle, or the end of your clause or sentence.
SO as a Coordinating Conjunction
Similarly, you must insert a comma after “so” when you use it as a coordinating conjunction to combine two independent clauses into one sentence. The combination of two independent clauses with the help of so denotes a cause-and-effect relationship.
Let’s take a look at the definition of coordinating conjunction below:
Coordinating Conjunction: We all know that conjunctions are words that link sentences together. Now coordinating conjunctions also have a similar purpose and they help combine two clauses together in a sentence. For example, ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘or’.
Apart from these two instances, you must also insert a comma after so when you use it with a parenthetical expression.
Usually, a parenthetical expression is one in which you include a word or a group of words that do not change the original meaning or grammar structure of the sentence.
For example: Some foods, deep-fried foods for example, are not good for health.
Apart from these exceptions, one does not need to insert a comma after “so” when using the alternative subordinating conjunction and adverbial forms.
Let’s expound on paid attention in detail below.
Substituting a Coordinating Conjunction
We keep teaching you mnemonic tricks in our articles, to help clear your grammar concepts. Here is another mnemonic we have for you to help remember the correct use of a comma after “so”, or even before it.
The mnemonic listing the coordinating conjunctions is FANBOYS.
- F = for
- A = and
- N = nor
- B = but
- O = or
- Y = yet
- S = so
We know now that “so” can serve as coordinating conjunction too in a sentence, but how do we identify it when it does? One simple trick to check if “so” is acting as coordinating conjunction in a sentence is to try replacing it with “and so”.
If you find that the meaning of the sentence does not change with “and so”, then it is coordinating conjunction indeed. For example:
My friend grew up in Connecticut so she visited New York City quite often.
Now let’s try replacing “so” in the sentence with “and so” to check whether or not it is coordinating conjunction here.
My friend grew up in Connecticut and so she visited New York City quite often.
This example clearly shows that replacing ‘so’ with ‘and so’ does not alter the meaning of the original sentence. Hence, it means that “so” is a coordinating conjunction in the first one and we can place a comma confidently before “so”.
Thus, the correctly punctuated sentence will be:
My friend grew up in Connecticut, so she visited New York City quite often.
Now let’s take a look at situations where the replacement does not work so well.
Substitution of Subordinating Conjunction
When replacing “so” with “and so” in a sentence changes the original meaning or doesn’t sound right, there is subordinate conjunction at work. Let’s look at an example below:
My husband grew up in the outskirts of the town so his father could commute into the city.
My husband grew up in the outskirts of the town and so his father could commute into the city.
When you take a closer look at the two, you will notice how replacing “so” with “and so” changes the original meaning. The second sentence almost sounds as if the husband “grew up” so that the commute could happen.
Whereas, the original sentence really meant that the husband grew up in the outskirts because of the easy commute. In this example, it seems better to replace “so” with “so that”. This substitution would not alter the original meaning at all.
My husband grew up in the outskirts of the town so that his father could commute into the city.
When we see how our replacement didn’t change the meaning and sounded perfectly correct, we know that we have a subordinate clause here. In this case, when we join a subordinate clause with the main clause, we do not require a comma.
The Success behind Substitutions
The sentences we have discussed above clearly show the presence of two clauses in them. The first sentence contains two clauses with independent content in them.
- She grew up in Connecticut
- She visited New York City often
The second sentence contains a main clause and a subordinate clause. When you read the two, you can see that could each stand alone as independent yet complete sentences.
But what makes an apparent fact here is that the second clause down shows a dependency on an introductory phase to lay its pretext.
- He grew up in the outskirts of the town
- His father could commute into the city.
Now we can see that if used the sentence, “his father could commute into the city” on its own, it would sound grammatically correct.
But would it make complete sense to the interpreter, or would it sound like a complete thought?
We know it wouldn’t and this is why we have to insert subordinating conjunction (so) here so that it could complete the thought. Hence, there is no requirement for a comma in this example.
Times When You Must Use a Comma
We mentioned that punctuations are a tricky business. Even something as simple as a comma can confuse all of us when we write. Here is a list of the times when it is right to use a common in a sentence.
– When you write a sentence in which you link two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction, use a comma before it. Coordinating conjunctions include:
– When you write a sentence with a dependent clause, you must insert a comma before you follow up with an independent clause. Try 👇🏼
When I went running I saw a deer.
– When writing a sentence that includes appositives, you must insert a comma first to separate the rest of the sentence. Try 👇🏼
When I went running in the woods I saw a Tokay Gecko a kind of Lizard.
– The most common rule for a comma is to use it when separating items in a series. Try 👇🏼
I bought a wallet, a shirt, a pair of shoes and a belt this morning.
– When you insert introductory adverbs in a sentence, use a comma after them. Try 👇🏼
Unsurprisingly I saw a pair of fighting dogs in the street when I went for a walk.
– You must insert a comma when writing a direct speech sentence or when attributing quotes. Try 👇🏼
The teacher said “I am so proud of your accomplishments.”
– We frequently insert dates when writing something. It is necessary to use a comma for separating the elements whenever we write a date in full. Moreover, we must also separate a combination of those elements from the rest of our sentence with commas. Try 👇🏼
July 18th 2019, was my last day at work.
To correctly use a comma after so, it is important to know your grammar concepts, including punctuations and their use. While using “so” as a subordinating conjunction or adverb, it is not necessary to insert a comma after “so”.
However, the use of a comma after “so” is essential when using it as coordinating conjunction or parenthetical component and expression.