so/so that


Senior Member
Hi! Since "that" can be omitted in "so that", are "so" and "so that" basically the same? Some grammar books published in my country say that the sentences introduced by "so" are compound sentences just like those by "and", "or", "but", while those by "so that" are adverbial sentences of purpose. I am so confused. Would anyone please tell me the types of sentences introduced by "so" and "so that"? Thanks!
  • sevengem

    Senior Member
    Sorry, I've made a mistake here. It should be like this.
    When "so" means "as a result", the sentence led by it is a compound sentence; when "so" means "in order that", the sentence led by it is an adverbial clause of purpose, which is a subtype of complex sentences. Am I right this time?


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I'm not sure if there's any significant difference between the clauses on other side. Compare these:

    We arrived late so we missed the train.
    We arrived early so we could catch the train.

    I take what you mean (or what I think you mean) - the "result" connexion feels looser than the "purpose" connexion. The result clause can be introduced by 'and': We arrived late and so/therefore we missed the train. The purpose clause, on the other hand, can contain the subordinator 'that': We arrived early so that we could catch the train. Certainly, 'and so' and 'so that' introduce different "strengths" of clause. Do we therefore say that plain 'so' also does? I'm not sure.


    Senior Member
    I conclude that:
    1. "so" can be used to explain a result and can be replaced by "and so/therefore".
    E.g.: I work very hard so now I'm the manager. = I work very hard and so/thereforenow I'm the manager.*

    2. "so" can be used to express purpose and can be replaced by "so that" (or "in order to").
    E.g.: I get up early so I can have breakfast before I leave. = I get up early so that I can have breakfast before I leave.*

    *I took the examples from Total English Pre-intermediate Workbook by Antonia Clare and JJ Wilson, page 48.


    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, that's right. If you are going to use "therefore" you need either "and therefore" or "; therefore". You perhaps also need to consider the tenses in your first pair because the work and the promotion were probably not simultaneous - but that is not a topic for this thread.
    < Previous | Next >