Writing Tip #75

Comma after “so”? Another grammatical quandary I come across all the time as an editor: When the word “so” starts a sentence, is there a comma after it or not? In other words, which is correct:

So, what do you think?

So what do you think?

I’m sure you have a definite opinion about this one, but hold onto your red pens, grammarphiles! Apparently, both are correct, and the decision to have a comma after the word “so” in these examples depends completely on style, according to Wikipedia (the only source I could find on short notice that broached this subject — where’s my Strunk & White when I need it?!), which reports that although there is always a comma after certain adverbs or transitional phrases, such as “therefore” or “of course,” using commas to offset adverbs such as “then,” “so,” “yet,” “instead” and “too” (meaning “also”) is optional.

Personally, I adhere to the less-is-more style of writing — my preference is not to do Oxford commas or commas after “so” when they begin a sentence, so Sentence #2 would be for me. But lots of other writer/editors feel differently. And this is one of those cases, which doesn’t come around very often in grammar, where preference rules. So go ahead and have your comma, if you so wish, and read it too. :)

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4 thoughts on “Writing Tip #75

  1. Interesting post, Dina. I agree with what Karen said above, it’s all about emphasis. Is the pause and therefore the comma necessary and consistent with the character or does the character need to rush through the words to get their answer as quickly as possible.

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