Comma before "SO"


If so, please give me a call so we can set up some opportunities for you.


Why no comma after "call". I always always thought to use a comma before FANBOYS if it followed by an independent clause. Please explain.


I always thought it should be "If so, please give me a call, so we can set up some opportunities for you."

asked Jan 19 '13 at 18:38 Roman New member

5 answers


You're right that you need a comma before a coordinating conjunction when it's joining two independent clauses. And most clauses with a subject and a verb are indepenedent, but this one is not. So the first answer here is wrong.


The second clause here is dependent on the first one, so no comma should go before "so." The second clause provides the reason that the first clause is necessary. So the clauses are dependent on each other. It's called a "clause of purpose."


A good memory aid for knowing when to use a comma before "so" and when not to is this: When you could insert "that" after the "so," there should not be a comma.


Here are some examples:

I'm not coming, so you're on your own. (I'm not coming. Sorry about that. Good luck doing it on your own.)

I'm not coming so you're on your own. (I am a spiteful and hateful person, and the reason I'm not coming is that I want you to be on your own.)

I took the dog out, so he shouldn't have to go for a while. (Something a dog owner might say to a dog sitter who just arrived.)

I took the dog out so he wouldn't have to go for a while. (Something the dog owner would say to her friend later that night when explaining why she took the dog out when she did.)

link answered May 12 '15 at 01:28 David Yontz Contributor

Thank you, David. As an English teacher, I enjoy learning little helps that make teaching a grammatical point much easier. -- Redland Girl

Dec 09 '15 at 03:43

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"so we can set up some opportunities for you," is certainly an independent clause, because it consists of a subject and predicate (it even has a direct object). Therefore, a comma is required before the coordinating conjunction.

link answered Nov 17 '15 at 21:41 Elan New member

I'm not certain about the rule here, either. I think this is an aspect of English language that's unnecessarily complicated and fails to make communication clearer.

MMJul 19 '16 at 07:01

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In this example, the clause, " we can set up some opportunities for you" is a subordinate (or dependent) clause that begins with the subordinating conjuction "so that." This can be confusing because the "that" is optional in this conjuction. 

If you insert "that," it reads: "If so, please give me a call SO THAT we can set up some opportunities for you." Clearly, the second clause only makes sense when paired with the first. 

Here's a great resource that dives into more detail:

P.S. - David did an excellent job at the end illustrating how the comma can add or remove meaning because of the implied "that." Just remember "so" and "so that" are two very different things!

link comment answered Feb 02 at 21:14 Zack Brown New member

My reading of the Purdue comma rules, especially rule number one, supports the original poster's expectation that the second comma should have been used just before the second "so." However, the following sentence precedes Purdue's list of standard comma rules as a precautionary:


"The rules provided here are those found in traditional handbooks; however, in certain rhetorical contexts and for specific purposes, these rules may be broken."


Language isn't precise. Beyond general rules native speakers and reasonably well-educated citizens (especially those who sit at the heads of publication boards) tend to agree upon, what seems to dictate usage is a mixture of style and clear conveyance of ideas. With all due respect to David above, those offered examples intended to justify the otherwise ambiguous use of the (second) comma reflect individual perspective--which people certainly have a right to--rather than universal meaning clarification. In David's first example sentence, for example, it is just as easily understood that the one being spoken to ("you") is on his own because the speaker has no intention of being present. There is no natural, empirical reason spite ought to justify clause dependence while a clearly articulated decision not to accompany someone else who, therefore, will be alone ought not to do so. Style and individually biased meaning--neither of which ought to dictate what another speaker or writer must do. Again, no disrespect meant, David.


For reference, here are the Purdue comma rules: <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

link comment answered Jul 19 '16 at 07:21 MM New member

Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

link comment answered Nov 17 '15 at 00:41 Rajhasree New member

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