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Other Connecting Words #1, by Dennis Oliver

Other Connecting Words (#1):
So / So that / So ___ that

In addition to conjunctive adverbs, there are other types of
connecting words.

Among other connecting words, so is often a problem--
because it can be used as both a conjunction and as an
adverb. Both of these uses of so are used in similar
situations, but they're not the same.

1.  

Use so to show a result or an effect. The sentence
before so is the cause of the sentence after so:

Judy was very tired, so she went to bed early.

He'd not felt well for several days, so he made
an appointment to see a doctor.

I promised that I would do it, so I'll do it.

Rodrigo got a promotion at work, so his family
had a party for him.

2.  

Use so (that) to show a reason or an intention.
The sentence that comes after so (that) answers
"why" for the sentence before so (that):

He moved there so (that) he could get a better job.

She wants to travel to Egypt so (that) she can see
the Pyramids.

Leo is working at three different jobs so (that) he
can buy a car as soon as possible.

Jean will hire a tutor so (that) she can get a higher
grade in Math.

3.  

You can also use so with adjectives and adverbs
followed by (that) + a result or an effect:

The sun is so bright (that) I can't see. /
The sun's shining so brightly (that) I can't see.

His voice is so soft (that) nobody can hear him. /
He speaks so softly (that) nobody can hear him.

His test score was so poor (that) he almost cried.
He did so poorly on the test (that) he almost cried.

In 1 and 2 above, so is a conjunction. In 3 above, so is
an adverb of degree or amount.

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Special Notes:

1.  

When so is used with (that)* to show a reason or
an intention, the sentence after so is subordinate
to the sentence before so: the sentence after so
doesn't have a complete meaning without the other
sentence. For this reason, the verb tense in the main
sentence controls the verb tense after so. The verb
after so usually has can or could, but may or
might are also possible:

He'll call you so (that) you and he can / may
discuss the problem. // He called you so (that) you
and he could / might discuss the problem.

She's working hard so (that) she can / may
leave early. // She worked hard so (that) she
could / might leave early.

2.  

When so introduces a result or an effect,
that is not used:

wrong: Judy was tired, *so that she went to bed.
right: Judy was tired, so she went to bed.

wrong: I promised to do it, *so that I'll do it.
right: I promised to do it, so I'll do it.

3.  

When so is used to show a reason or intention
and when so is used with an adjective or an
adverb, that is optional: you can use that or
not use that: it's up to you:

He moved there so (that) he could get a better job.

Jean will hire a tutor so (that) she can get a higher
grade in Math.

The sun is so bright (that) I can't see. /
The sun's shining so brightly (that) I can't see.

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So can also be used with noun phrases and with much,
many, little, and few. These will be treated in other Hints.

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