so-versus-so-that-grammar

So versus So That

Good day!

Today’s grammar refresher is truly a tricky little bit. So and so that look and feel similar, but they are in fact two different parts of speech. Luckily, the only difference is so sometimes requires a comma and so that doesn’t. By the end, you’ll see why I cringe every time I read my daughter, Avery, the excerpt above. For this exercise, you should add commas where necessary:
  1. Jake was celebrating his new job so Tina decided to stay for a couple of drinks.
  2. Tim had to yell loudly so that everyone could hear him.
  3. Tina set her alarm so she would not be late to work the next morning.
  4. Jake didn’t want to be groggy on his first day so he decided to leave early.
  5. Mike had driven with Jake so that is why he had to take a cab home.

  1. So as a coordinating conjunction means the same thing as “therefore,” and you should add a comma before it when separating two clauses that can stand on their own.
    Jake was celebrating his big promotion, so Tina decided to stay for a couple of drinks.

  2. So that is a subordinating conjunction, shows a cause-and-effect relationship, and does not take a comma.
    Tim had to yell loudly so that everyone could hear him.

  3. That is a little like the Houdini of the word world, so things can get tricky because the that in so that does not have to be present. Yep, it can be deleted.
    Tina set her alarm early so (that) she would not be late to work the next morning.

  4. You should add a comma before so when separating two clauses that can stand on their own.
    Jake didn’t want to be groggy on his first day, so he decided to leave early.

  5. To make matters worse, the that in what looks to be a so that conjunction could simply be the subject of the second clause.
    Mike had driven with Jake, so that is why he had to take a cab home.

    A helpful tip: If you see you see a so, mentally replace it with so that. If it works, then don’t add a comma.

    Note: The disappearing that in what are known as that-clauses is pretty common, especially in speech. “She said (that) …” or “I believe (that) …” are just two examples.
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