The English language is ever-changing. Each time we believe to have it all under control, it seems that there is another grammar rule to learn! This is because our language grows with us, we develop together. This is why some things that were not considered correct a few decades ago, are now grammatically okay.
So, which rules have changed?
Is Your Grammar So-So?
The word ‘so’ comes across as quite conversational. There is a lightness to the word, just as there is with other conjunctions: “So, as I was saying…”, “But, enough about me, how are you?”
Conjunctions keep a conversation flowing, and are very commonly used in everyday speech by most people.
Speaking VS. Writing Conjunctions
Typically we have been taught not to begin our sentences with ‘so’ or any other conjunction.
Why is that?
Well, this is a grey area because many people believe conjunctions are directly linked with sentence fragments. A sentence fragment is not a complete sentence; therefore, an incomplete thought.
When a sentence starts with a conjunction, it is a continuation of a thought and can still be made into a complete thought.
A Case for Conjunctions
Take a look at this sentence:
“People think getting the maximum amount of sleep is always good for you. So, they are confused when they wake up groggy after sleeping for 12 hours.”
In the few sentences above, we see ‘so’ being used at the beginning of the sentence. So, does that mean we have a sentence fragment? In this case, no. There is a subject ‘they’ and a verb “are confused,” making this a complete sentence that just so happens to begin with the word ‘so’.
Of course, the sentence would still be correct if the word ‘so’ were not present…
“People think getting the maximum amount of sleep is always good for you. They are confused when they wake up groggy after sleeping for 12 hours.”
The second version feels less like a continued thought. The value of the conjunction “so” at the beginning of the sentence is that it keeps the thought continuous.
Similar in conversation, the ‘so’ makes it feel not just more continuous but also more conversational. Is this always a good thing, especially when we’re talking about writing?
Grammatically Correct, Not Always Favored
There is indeed no grammatical error with using a conjunction such as ‘so’ at the beginning of a sentence. However, with conjunctions popular in speech and conversational writing, they might not be appropriate for every type of writing.
As always, this comes down to knowing your audience that will be reading your writing. If your piece is more of a professional piece of writing and less conversational, it may be best to skip the conjunctions. Even though it is grammatically correct, the people who get bothered by conjunctions at the start of a sentence will notice every time you use one.
So, start slow with your conjunction usage. Practice in conversational text, low stake emails, or a personal blog post. Hold off on higher stake pieces of writing until this grammar tip is more widely accepted.
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