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LJD
02-21-2018, 05:50 AM
I've got a handful of such sentences in my manuscript. For example:

So, I broke up with her.
So, I owe a lot to Jeremy.
“So, Gerald and I were thinking…”

My editor added the comma after "so"...I didn't have it in my manuscript in most cases. In some places, it looks weird to me with the comma...but is it correct? This article (https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/is-starting-a-sentence-with-so-condescending) suggests you need the comma because "so" is a conjunctive adverb when used this way. An editor at a publisher I worked with last year added the comma to my work...and then the copy editor took it out, IIRC. I'm confused.

I assume I should keep the comma, but I'm not sure?

lizmonster
02-21-2018, 05:59 AM
I've got a handful of such sentences in my manuscript. For example:

So, I broke up with her.
So, I owe a lot to Jeremy.
“So, Gerald and I were thinking…”

My editor added the comma after "so"...I didn't have it in my manuscript in most cases. In some places, it looks weird to me with the comma...but is it correct? This article (https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/is-starting-a-sentence-with-so-condescending) suggests you need the comma because "so" is a conjunctive adverb when used this way. An editor at a publisher I worked with last year added the comma to my work...and then the copy editor took it out, IIRC. I'm confused.

I assume I should keep the comma, but I'm not sure?

The comma is grammatically correct (AFAIK).

But fiction can bend the rules. I often use an initial "so" without a comma because the rhythm is different. If it were me, I'd choose the one I liked better.

AW Admin
02-21-2018, 06:17 AM
It depends on how "so" is functioning in the sentence; whether it marks a substantial turn or change, or whether it's a continuation.

Here's a good discussion (https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/30436/when-do-we-need-to-put-a-comma-after-so).

But in fiction, where "so" is used in dialogue, the comma after so is a matter of house style. That's because it's not so much functioning as the word "so" usually functions (as a conjunction or adverb) as it is a sort of speech marker, almost like you'd use "um." The "so" isn't really required by the sentence, but it's the way people actually talk.


The dictionary entry for so (https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=so) is kind of helpful, too.

Just be consistent.

blacbird
02-21-2018, 07:58 AM
"So I broke up with her."

doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as:

"So, I broke up with her."

Context matters a lot. The first, without the comma, clearly implies cause-and-effect. The second, depending on preceding context, may not imply that.

caw

Brightdreamer
02-21-2018, 08:14 AM
"So I broke up with her."

doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as:

"So, I broke up with her."

Context matters a lot. The first, without the comma, clearly implies cause-and-effect. The second, depending on preceding context, may not imply that.

caw

+1

The two read a little different to me, and it would depend on context.

The first, as bb said, is cause and effect, and I'd expect it to follow a reason for that action ("I caught her out on a date with my brother. So I broke up with her."). It may not necessarily be grammatical, but it's how many people speak.

The second could have a similar meaning, or it be a like a "Well, ..." or some such, a preamble that could be eliminated without altering the meaning statement. That would depend on context and the character's established voice. In a character prone to saying "So, how are you?" and "So, about that money you owe me...", I wouldn't necessarily connect a "So, I broke up with her" with the previous statement they'd made as cause-and-effect.

konstantineblacke
02-21-2018, 08:24 AM
Was it Oscar Wilde who was renowned for saying something like: "I Spent All Morning Taking Out a Comma and All Afternoon Putting It Back."

;)

LJD
02-21-2018, 08:31 AM
Here's the previous sentence:

It felt like she wanted to turn me into a completely different person.

So, I broke up with her.


And that's one of the ones in which the comma seems off to me, I guess because the second sentence directly follows from the first? It could be one sentence, of course, but I put it in two sentences for emphasis.

In the link I gave, the author uses a similar example: I love grammar. So, I research and write about it. The second sentence seems to directly follow from the first...and she says there needs to be a comma after "so"?



"So I broke up with her."

doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as:

"So, I broke up with her."

Context matters a lot. The first, without the comma, clearly implies cause-and-effect. The second, depending on preceding context, may not imply that.

caw


+1

The two read a little different to me, and it would depend on context.

The first, as bb said, is cause and effect, and I'd expect it to follow a reason for that action ("I caught her out on a date with my brother. So I broke up with her."). It may not necessarily be grammatical, but it's how many people speak.

The second could have a similar meaning, or it be a like a "Well, ..." or some such, a preamble that could be eliminated without altering the meaning statement. That would depend on context and the character's established voice. In a character prone to saying "So, how are you?" and "So, about that money you owe me...", I wouldn't necessarily connect a "So, I broke up with her" with the previous statement they'd made as cause-and-effect.

Bufty
02-21-2018, 02:31 PM
If these two sentences immediately follow one another, it flows and reads better to me without the comma, but that's just my preference. :flag:


Here's the previous sentence:

It felt like she wanted to turn me into a completely different person.

So, I broke up with her.

vhilal
02-21-2018, 03:00 PM
The comma is grammatically correct (AFAIK).

But fiction can bend the rules. I often use an initial "so" without a comma because the rhythm is different. If it were me, I'd choose the one I liked better.

I agree with lizmonster. There are grammar rules, but we bend them in fiction to create rhythm. I use "so" with and without a comma in my manuscript b/c it feels right. My favorite authors do the same thing I've noticed.

Fallen
02-21-2018, 04:22 PM
Here's the previous sentence:

It felt like she wanted to turn me into a completely different person.

So, I broke up with her.


I think the issue with this is that it can be either here:

A conjunction: It felt like she wanted to turn me into a completely different person, so I broke up with her. "Showing cause and effect, leaving 'so' without a comma and tied closely to the rest of 'I broke up with her' clause.

Or an interjection: It felt like she wanted to turn me into a completely different person. So, I broke up with her. Leaving 'so' with a comma and tied loosely to the rest of 'I broke up with her' clause, as with like: Erm, I broke up with her...

Chase
02-21-2018, 11:04 PM
So . . . as Lisa let us know, it's whether the house rules deem it a coordinating conjunction or a conjunctive adverb.

Usually, coordinating conjunctions (and, or, nor, but, for, yet, so) aren't followed by commas. If authors want a pause, they might consider ellipsis points or a dash.

However, conjunctive adverbs (however, consequently, moreover, also, then, etc.) are almost always followed by a comma.

Yep, consistency is a must.

Jason
02-23-2018, 10:37 AM
So it would seem there are several things to consider and take into account.

So, as a word that gets used a lot at the beginning of sentences, usually will have (in my experience) another comma later because it's separating a separate thought, but that is tied to the entire sentence structure.

So depending on what you're writing, it may or may not have a comma afterward.

So, I could go on and on with this, but think you get the gist...

So I am done.

:)

Roxxsmom
02-23-2018, 11:31 AM
AW Administrator covered all the angles, I think, but as far as I know it's not incorrect to put a comma after an introductory element in a sentence, and it was how I was taught to do it back in the dark ages. I agree with lizmonster that the presence or absence of a comma changes the rhythm and flow, and it can change how the sentence is interpreted too. I've noticed that many editors seem to omit commas in these situations, though, even when (from reading the sentence a few times to figure out what it means) they feel like they'd belong there to me. They seem to omit them from nonrestrictive clauses sometimes too, which changes the actual meaning of the sentence (and can make it confusing).

I agree with Bufty, though, that it works better for me without the comma in the particular example given in the OP.

Robinski
03-30-2018, 10:43 AM
A comma denotes a pause, so, it's about where you want the pause. Simple. Put the comma(s) wherever you darn well want. Rules are made to be applied selectively, according to circumstance, mood and day of the week.

Helix
03-30-2018, 10:52 AM
A comma denotes a pause, so, it's about where you want the pause. Simple. Put the comma(s) wherever you darn well want. Rules are made to be applied selectively, according to circumstance, mood and day of the week.

A comma doesn't denote a pause.

Enlightened
03-30-2018, 10:58 AM
A comma doesn't denote a pause.

Depends on context. "So, what now?" It reads differently than "so what now?"

Enlightened
03-30-2018, 11:04 AM
I've got a handful of such sentences in my manuscript. For example:

So, I broke up with her.
So, I owe a lot to Jeremy.
“So, Gerald and I were thinking…”

My editor added the comma after "so"...I didn't have it in my manuscript in most cases. In some places, it looks weird to me with the comma...but is it correct? This article (https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/is-starting-a-sentence-with-so-condescending) suggests you need the comma because "so" is a conjunctive adverb when used this way. An editor at a publisher I worked with last year added the comma to my work...and then the copy editor took it out, IIRC. I'm confused.

I assume I should keep the comma, but I'm not sure?

So sounds natural with dialogue, but maybe it can be lessened (quantitatively). If used too much, it might be offputting to some readers.

Robinski
03-30-2018, 07:58 PM
The function of the pause may be different grammatically in a range of circumstances, but the practical implementation is a pause, imo. Do you not always pause when you see a comma? I do.

"Let's eat, grandpa."

"Let's eat grandpa."

QED

Robinski
03-30-2018, 07:59 PM
Depends on context. "So, what now?" It reads differently than "so what now?"

Exactly. Thanks, Enlightened :)

Chase
03-30-2018, 09:01 PM
The function of the pause may be different grammatically in a range of circumstances, but the practical implementation is a pause, imo. Do you not always pause when you see a comma? I do.

"Let's eat, grandpa."

"Let's eat grandpa."

QED

Your basic premise is flawed because a comma doesn't necessitate a pause and vice versa.

The function of a comma is for reading--not for speaking. It indicates structure within a sentence.

Your poorly capitalized example of "Let's eat, Grandpa" versus "Let's eat Grandpa" actually proves the opposite of your contention. There may be no difference in how it's spoken, but in the first, the comma shows direct address. In the second, Grandpa is the object and not the person addressed.

As others have tireless repeated, to use a comma to force a pause is always troublesome for readers. However, we may be discussing apples versus oranges because commas for UK publications may be employed differently than for US publications. If so, sorry.

Bufty
03-30-2018, 09:11 PM
The sole purpose of a comma is to help the reader understand the writer's intended meaning of the sentence.

Whether anyone chooses, when reading aloud, to deliberately pause or not at a comma - is entirely a matter of personal choice every time.

Chase
03-30-2018, 10:47 PM
The sole purpose of a comma is to help the reader understand the writer's intended meaning of the sentence.

Whether anyone chooses, when reading aloud, to deliberately pause or not at a comma - is entirely a matter of personal choice every time.

Exactly. It makes this a non-issue:


Depends on context. "So, what now?" It reads differently than "so what now?"

Emily Patrice
04-06-2018, 09:22 AM
So, on a slightly different note:

"So" can be used to trail off in speech - I know I use it a lot in speech and it makes me sound like a dithering idiot (never noticed until I said it in a job interview, and the interviewer waited for me to end the sentence... and I didn't have an ending). But I don't think I'd ever noticed it in fiction until I read Cat Person. An example from that story:

> She shrugged. “I’m up for a promotion, so,” she said.

I was actually thrilled to see it in print. I always avoided writing it because I didn't know how to punctuate it, and because it's sort of like the ums and ahs you leave out of written dialog -- but not exactly like that, really. It adds a specific flavor to a sentence.

Now the New Yorker has given me permission, I think I may be overusing it in my writing. I prefer it with an ellipsis, although that doesn't seem strictly necessary because the "so" itself serves the same function.

Chase
04-26-2018, 07:30 PM
Now the New Yorker has given me permission, I think I may be overusing it in my writing. I prefer it with an ellipsis, although that doesn't seem strictly necessary because the "so" itself serves the same function.

Even New Yorker editors might allow an iffy example to slip into print. I agree on ellipses to help readers grasp "so" signals the speaker has trailed off.

Bufty
04-26-2018, 08:23 PM
When reading, I wouldn't automatically interpret a terminal 'so' by itself as indicating a trailing off.

Hunt & Peck
05-04-2018, 12:37 AM
So, maybe I should go on the trip after all.

That is correct, but a comma is not alway necessary after the use of so in the beginning of a sentence. For example...

So what if I've never snow skied before?

Bufty
05-04-2018, 01:56 AM
Context is everything. Aim for clarity.

DanielSTJ
05-13-2018, 03:54 AM
Well the comma after "So," because it is an introductory clause, is correct in my opinion.

However, I could be wrong.

And I think Buffy added words of wisdom when he said: "Context is everything. Aim for clarity."

That makes A LOT of sense.