The question of when to use a comma with so vs. so that vs. so…that isn’t normally tested on any standardized test I’m familiar with, but I’ve noticed a lot of confusion about it in various people’s writing recently, and so I wanted to address it here.
Essentially, the issue is that while all three constructions involve the word so, they’re actually three different types of conjunctions, and that in turn affects how they are punctuated.
So… (pun intended), here goes:
1) So by itself – synonym for therefore
So is a coordinating (FANBOYS) conjunction that serves to connect two independent clauses (complete sentences). Like the other FANBOYS conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or & yet), so must follow a comma when it is used this way.
Incorrect: The skin is located at the interface between our body and the outside world so its cells can respond to many different kinds of stimuli.
Correct: The skin is located at the interface between our body and the outside world, so its cells can respond to many different kinds of stimuli.
2) So that – synonym for in order to
So that is a subordinating conjunction that separates an independent clause from a dependent clause.
When the independent clause comes first—as it virtually always does in this case, for stylistic reasons—a comma should not be used because it creates an unnecessary and unnatural break between the parts of the sentence.
Incorrect: People who spend long hours in the sun are encouraged to wear long-sleeved clothing, so that they limit their skin’s exposure to harmful rays.
Correct: People who spend long hours in the sun are encouraged to wear long-sleeved clothing so that they limit their skin’s exposure to harmful rays.
3) So…that – used to indicate extremity/cause and effect
So…that is a correlative conjunction (word pair), used with an adjective. Again, using a comma with this construction creates an unnecessary and awkward break.
Incorrect: The sun at the beach was so strong, that we were forced to leave only two hours after we had arrived.
Correct: The sun at the beach was so strong that we were forced to leave only two hours after we had arrived.
Over the past few weeks, the test-optional dominos have continued to fall, with Harvard grudgingly deciding to consider applications from students who have faced exceptional obstacles in taking the SAT or ACT, and Princeton even more grudgingly following suit. As of now, the Ivies seem pretty clear about the fact that these are one-year policies only, and that applicants applying in the fall of 2021 and beyond will be expected to take the tests as usual.
At other other selective colleges, however, this year’s policies are part of a multi-year test-optional trial period, and so I think it’s worth taking a hard look at the implications of these policies in a non-Covid context, and to ask who really benefits from them. (more…)
So it’s official: The University of California—the country’s largest public university system, serving several hundred thousand students—has voted to phase out standardized testing.
The SAT and ACT will be optional for freshman applicants for applicants in 2021 and 2022; for 2023-4, test scores will be used only for out-of-state-students and to determine scholarship awards; and will be eliminated completely in 2025. If a new, UC-created exam is not ready by that point, then no exam will be considered.
This is obviously a major shakeup in the testing industry, although not a completely unforeseen one. Historically, there has been tension between the University of California and the College Board, with discussions of abandoning the SAT dating back to the early 1990s. More recently, there has been considerable speculation about whether the UCs would continue to require the SAT or ACT essay. Since last winter, however, additional pushback against the use of standardized testing has ramped up. (more…)
A couple of weeks ago, as soon as it became clear that there was no way the spring SAT and ACT testing schedule could proceed as normal, I started wondering how the Coronavirus pandemic would affect the trend toward test-optional admissions policies.
No sooner had the thought crossed my mind than an Instagram announcement popped up stating that Case Western had decided to go test-optional for students applying in the fall of 2021. At Case, the policy currently applies to those applicants only; policies for future classes will be determined next winter. Tufts has also announced a similar policy involving a three-year trial period.
From what I understand, it seems likely that the pandemic will consist of multiple, overlapping waves of outbreaks in different regions over a fairly extended period, rather than occurring in one single massive wave, and so it would not be at all surprising if these policies were ultimately extended. (more…)
3/24 update: International shipping is not available. I’ve just been notified that Amazon, which prints our books, is not currently shipping orders outside the United States. Because international orders must go through Amazon rather than from our regular warehouse, we unfortunately unable to ship abroad.
As of today (3/23/20), delivery times for *most* Critical Reader books remain unaffected by the novel Coronavirus. Our storage and shipping facility is still open and operating normally, and orders should continue to arrive in approximately 5-7 days.
The only exception is the recently released updated AP English Language and Composition Guide. This item must still be sent from the printer, which is currently experiencing delays. Please allow 10 days for shipping.
We will post an update if there are any changes.
To everyone: please take care and stay safe.
A number of years ago, an acquaintance enlisted me to help her search Craigslist for a sublet in New York City. This is a daunting task under the best of circumstances, but in this case the difficulty was compounded by the fact that my acquaintance was not a native English speaker—in fact, she did not speak much English at all—nor was she particularly internet savvy.
As someone who had spent a fair amount of time on Craigslist looking for apartments herself, I was well-versed in the various scams that flood the site and adept at the spotting the markers for them: TOO MUCH CAPITALIZATION or too much lower case. Word salad, word soup… Or wording that just somehow seemed “off,” in some vague, undefined way.
My acquaintance, on the other hand, was entirely at sea: she would call the numbers listed and be told that the original rental no longer existed but that she could be shown other, pricier options; or that she would have to hand over exorbitant amounts of money for a deposit, and so on.
I eventually got very frustrated trying to help her. She was oblivious to clear warning signs, and she went running to look at apartment after apartment that just obviously wasn’t going to pan out. (more…)