Comma Controversies

If a sentence begins with the word “so,” should a comma follow it? Believe it or not, we grammar nerds have controversies, and this is one of them. Some experts say we should never begin a sentence with the word “so” in the first place, so the comma issue is moot.

Other grammarians think that “so” at the beginning of a sentence is proper, but they further disagree as to whether a comma should follow the “so.” Some argue that no comma is needed and give the following rationale: When a conjunction like “so” is inside a sentence–when it connects two complete sentences–a comma always goes before the conjunction, not after.

The pro-comma faction contends that the “so” is an introduction and a comma should separate it from the main sentence.

Confused yet?

An even bigger point of contention in the writing world has to do with the Oxford comma. People have extreme views about whether to use it. In a list, the Oxford comma comes just before the “and” or “or” that signals the last item on the list. I am a proponent of the Oxford comma, even though eminent publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are very much against it. I think the Oxford comma makes writing more clear, and that is the most critical issue of all.

To make a very long answer shorter: The comma after the initial “so” can go either way, as long as the writer is consistent.

#grammarrules #commas #Englishisfun

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