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I have a question.

Do you always have to place a comma before the conjunction "so" when you have a sentence with that "so" or are there any cases where commas are not needed?

I was late, so I took a bus.
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I think whether you need place a comma or not depends not on the conjunction so, but on the position of a main and an adverbial clause. If a main clause is the first, then you needn't place a comma.


I took a bus (why?) because I was late.
And if the first goes an adverbial clause, then you need place a comma.


I was late, so I took a bus.
I was late, that's why I took a bus.

Thank you. I have this rather long sentence and want to ask you whether or not you would place a comma before "so" for the writer did not. I am wondering why he did not place a comma there.

Is the choice to put a comma before "so" is an arbitrary one that a writer can decide for him or herself?

If a particular exercise is little more than a quick review, you can simply give the answers (a comma here ?) so they can correct their own previously prepared works in their textbooks.
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Hi,

I was late, so I took a bus. Here, 'so' expresses a consequence. It is often, although I wouldn't say always, preceded by a comma.

If a particular exercise is little more than a quick review, you can simply give the answers (a comma here ?) so they can correct their own previously prepared works in their textbooks. Here, 'so' expresses purpose. We sometimes say 'so that'. It's like 'in order that'. Generally speaking, it does not need to be preceded by a comma.

Is the choice to put a comma before "so" is an arbitrary one that a writer can decide for him or herself? That's a rather complex question. Here are a couple of simple comments. Use a comma when it helps or is necessary to understand the meaning. In modern English, generally speaking, if the sentence is short, commas tend to be omitted.

Best wishes, Clive

Sometimes the choice whether to place a comma or not is really made by an author himself. But in your example, Anon, so they can correct their own previously prepared works in their textbooks seems a subordinate clause to me (as Clive has already mentioned, though), which goes after the main you can simply give the answers.

...you can simply give the answers (for what? why?) so [that] they can correct their own previously prepared works in their textbooks.
Hi Clive.

It was a great help for me to read you explanation on the use of "comma" with so. I have some material on it. Actually, I teach English and the use of comma is one of the problems I face teaching my students. That's why I'm always searching about it. To tell you the truth, I'm a Brazilian teacher of English and Spanish, punctuation is not the "cup of tea" (Does that expression mean the same as "it's not the easiest part"?) in any language.

Thanks again and best wishes.

Cibele
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Hello.

(1) I think that most Americans now treat "so" as a conjunction. Therefore, they would probably write it as you did:

I was late, so I took a bus.

(2) There are a very few very strict teachers who insist that "so" is always an adverb. They would insist that your sentence has to be written as:

(a) I was late. So I took a bus.

(b) I was late; so I took a bus.

As I said, almost nobody nowadays follows this rule.

(3) These very strict teachers insist that "so" must be matched with "that" if you want its conjunctional use:

(a) I went early so that I could get a good seat. (purpose)

(b) I went early, so that I got a good seat. (result)

(i) the pause of the comma is necessary in order to indicate result.

Thank you.