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Hi everybody, I've been puzzled by the usage of 'so (that)'.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English states the following definitions and gives the following examples:

so (that)
a) in order to make something happen, make something possible etc:
He lowered his voice so Doris couldn't hear.
Why don't you start out early so that you don't have to hurry?


b) used to say that something happens or is true as a result of the situation you have just stated:
There are no buses, so you'll have to walk.
The gravestones were covered with moss so that it was impossible to read the names on them
.

Does it say that in all these sentences you are free to use either 'so' or 'so that' without changing meaning? That is, can you say:
There are no buses, so that you'll have to walk.

I admit that the sentence above with 'that' present sounds off to me. Is it correct or am I right that something is wrong with it?

The other dictionary, Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, states the following:

a) "so" - used to show the reason for sth:
It was still painful so I went to see a doctor.


b) "so (that … )" - used to show the result of sth:
Nothing more was heard from him so that we began to wonder if he was dead.


c) "so (that … )" - used to show the purpose of sth:
But I gave you a map so you wouldn’t get lost!
She worked hard so that everything would be ready in time.

It says that you use 'so' but not 'so that' to show the reason for something (a), but when you want to show the result of something (b), you can say both 'so' or 'so that'. However, sometimes it is hard to tell one from another. Consider a sentence:

She wanted to buy a car so I gave her some money.


Is the fact that he gave her some money a result of the fact that she wanted to buy a car or is her wanting to buy a car a reason for him giving her some money?

So, can the sentence read:

She wanted to buy a car so that I gave her some money.

or is 'so that' wrong in this context?

I hope I didn't make too much confusion by this post!
I'll be grateful for responses,
Michal
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MichalSShe wanted to buy a car so I gave her some money.

Is the fact that he gave her some money a result of the fact that she wanted to buy a car
I'd say no. In order to see "gave her some money" as a result, I'd say you would need to mention something such as "she told me she didn't have enough money to buy the car" or "she asked me for some money".
MichalSor is her wanting to buy a car a reason for him giving her some money?
Yes
MichalSShe wanted to buy a car so that I gave her some money.
No
MichalSor is 'so that' wrong in this context?
Yes
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Use "so" by itself when you mean "therefore", or "for this reason"
I gave her money because she wanted to buy a car.
She wanted to buy a car, so ( therefore) I gave her some money.
I gave her money so that she could buy a car. (This means that her buying a car was the result of my giving her money)
In this case:

She wanted to buy a car so that I gave her some money. This is not correct. The giving of money is not what results from her having a car.
She wanted to buy a car so that she could get to work faster. This is correct. Getting to work faster is the result of her having a car.
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Comments  
Personally, I would ignore all that mumbo-jumbo from the dictionaries. There are only two basic principles to remember (in bold font below).

1. If it means "therefore" (i.e., "because of this", "as a consequence of what was just said"), use so, not so that. This form introduces an independent clause, so you use a comma. The main clause tells why the action in the so clause occurred.
My throat was sore, so I went to the doctor.

She wanted a car, so I gave her some money.

Her socks were worn out, so she threw them in the trash.
There are no buses, so you have to walk.
Larry's TV can't be repaired, so he's going to buy a new one.
____

2. For other meanings, you can use either so or so that. [in such a way (that), in such a manner (that), with this motive: that ..., for this purpose: that ..., in order that] In this pattern the main clause does not tell why the action in the so (that) clause occurred. In fact, it's often the reverse. The so (that) clause expresses an action that is desired, not an action that necessarily occurred.
He lowered his voice so (that) Dora couldn't hear. [He lowered his voice. Why? Because he didn't want Dora to hear.]
Jane hung the picture so (that) everyone could see it.
Louise portioned out the cake so (that) there would be two pieces for each person.
I'll give you a map so (that) you won't get lost.
She worked hard so (that) everything would be ready in time.
Start early so (that) you won't have to hurry.
________________________
Further notes:
The relationship can sometimes be seen either way. You can only include that if you're not thinking "therefore", but some other relationship.
The gravestones were covered with moss, so (=therefore) it was impossible to read the names on them.

The gravestones were covered with moss so (that) (=in such a way that) it was impossible to read the names on them.
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I find the following somewhat unusual.
Nothing more was heard from him so that we began to wonder if he was dead.

I think the author's intent here is Nothing was heard from him for such a long time that we began ....
But I would have written:
Nothing more was heard from him, so we began to wonder if he was dead.
because I feel the sense of "therefore" more strongly in that sentence.
Sometimes it's a matter a translating your personal thoughts as you feel them! Emotion: smile
CJ
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Thank you very much for helping me out! Emotion: smile