Learning punctuation and grammar rules can give you a little boost of confidence that you’re writing right!
Here are a few punctation errors I commonly see as an editor.
Can you start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction? (words such as and, but, so)
The short answer: yes!
Coordinating conjunctions are words used to join together words. They’re easily remembered by the acronym FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.
Back in the day it was not common practice to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. But now it is. (I just wrote one!)
Some people have been taught never to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. That’s an older rule, and one that is not typically followed in today’s more casual writing.
Look at this example:
Melanie knew she didn’t like eating salmon. But her friend encouraged her to try it again.
Notice the sentence starting with “But.”
This sentence is completely acceptable.
Here’s some advice about starting sentences with a coordinating conjunction. Use this method sparingly. Use it to emphasize an idea in a particular sentence. Use it when you want to create a different rhythm in your writing.
How do you punctuate a sentence beginning with a coordinating conjunction?
As an editor I’ve commonly seen punctuation like this:
The squirrel darted through the yard. And, the dogs chased it.
She wanted to make sure they got a good seat. So, they left an hour early.
See the two sentences starting with and and so?
These coordinating conjunctions do not need to be followed by a comma.
So the rule is this: no comma needed when a coordinating conjunction starts a sentence.
The examples should be written like this:
And the dogs chased it.
So they left an hour early. (Some editing programs will tell you to put a comma after so, but you really don’t need to).
Punctuation with the word so
So used as coordinating conjunction
As you saw above, the word so is a coordinating conjunction. It shows cause and effect.
Like in this sentence:
I was tired, so I went to bed early.
Notice a comma comes before so.
So that used as a subordinating conjunction
The word so can also be used with that, so that, as in the following sentence:
She saved money so that she could go on her dream vacation.
Often we leave out the word “that,” (and it’s a good idea to leave out the word that when you can) like this:
She saved money so she could go on her dream vacation.
The rule is this: when using so when you mean so that, do not use a comma.
Just a couple of punctuation tips to help polish your writing!
I hope that cleared up some things for you!
If you have other punctuation questions, let me know! I’d love to answer them.
Thanks for being here!
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