a comma before "so that"

Roymalika

Senior Member
Punjabi
Hi

They are studying English every day so that their English can improve.

Can I use a comma before "so that" in this sentence?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Your statement could be written much more simply and naturally. As it is, it implies that their studying every day ‘enables their English to perform the act of improving’, rather than saying what it enables the students themselves to do.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Are you in disagreement with Heypresto's and Kentix's saying that comma is wrong before "so that"?
    Grammarians often argue that you should put a comma before so when the clauses are independent.

    Thus They are studying English every day so that their English can improve. No comma needed

    But They are studying English every day, so their English should improve. Comma needed

    [...]
    ...it implies that their studying every day ‘enables their English to perform the act of improving’, rather than saying what it enables the students themselves to do.
    I'm afraid I don't share this objection. When I say 'Your English will improve when you go to work in England', I'm not suggesting that your English is going to be hard at work performing 'the act of improving'.

    This is not to say that I wouldn't prefer the original sentence with a final construction - ...every day to improve their English.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I was only referring to the original sentence. My preferred version would be: They study every day to improve their English. Short and sweet.

    And no, I wouldn’t consider a comma wrong in the original sentence. Punctuation is largely a matter of style, and I see no pressing reason why you shouldn’t add one there (though personally, I wouldn’t).
     
    Last edited:

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    Grammarians often argue that you should put a comma before so when the clauses are independent.

    Thus They are studying English every day so that their English can improve. No comma needed

    But They are studying English every day, so their English should improve. Comma needed
    Hello Thomas, are you among those who consider the comma wrong before "so that"?
     

    nam5

    New Member
    English
    You shouldn't use the comma before so that, because with the comma the sub-clause of purpose becomes the result clause. I agree with Linggobingo that we should write as an abridgment: "They study every day to improve their English ."
     
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