It is correct to start sentences with “so” in academic or formal writing and informal writing. There are various functions “so” performs at the start of a sentence. E.g., “So that you don’t get lost, I would take a map.” or “So far, today has been a disaster.”
“So” can have various meanings depending on what comes before or after. Some of these are more appropriate in an essay than others.
Firstly, starting a sentence with the word “so” is common. In this role, “so” either creates a transition between the sentences or is a way of clarifying something.
- She has never been to London. So, the whole trip was a novelty for her.
Some people think it is condescending to use “so” in this way. However, the offense comes more from the tone and manner in which you pronounce the word “so” rather than the word itself.
For example, an emphasized pause or extending the sound of the word “so” can give the impression of annoyance.
- I have already explained the instructions twice. So, you should know what they are.
Also, you can use the term “so that” to begin a sentence. The meaning of “so that” is something similar to “so that… (this can happen), this… (needs to happen).”
- So that we are all on the page, we should read the objectives together.
Furthermore, you can use the term “so far” to start a sentence, which means “up to now.”
- So far, everyone has done well this semester.
Finally, you can use “so much so” to emphasize an idea from the previous sentence.
- He is a great player. So much so that the major leagues have scouted him.
Do you want to learn more? Read on to discover if “so” can be used in formal and informal writing.
Can You Start a Sentence With “So” in Formal Writing?
You can use the term “so” in formal writing. However, in some situations, it may be too informal, and a synonym could be more appropriate.
For example, when using the word “so” to transition from one idea to another or to link sentences, the term “therefore” is more appropriate.
Take a look at these examples:
- The Government has lost support recently. So, an election win is unlikely.
- The Government has lost support recently. Therefore, an election win is unlikely.
- Your account is in arrears. So, you need to pay $278 to avoid further charges.
- Your account is in arrears. Therefore, you need to pay $278 to avoid further charges.
Other phrases with “so” are acceptable in formal writing. The following examples show three terms with “so” and their meanings.
So far – Up to now.
- So far this year, we have performed well on client retention but badly on client acquisition.
So much so – To emphasize that the previous point is true and to what extent.
- He was highly dedicated to his profession. So much so that he gave his life for it.
So that – For x to happen, y must happen.
- So that the crab stands the best chance of survival, it burrows deep underground.
Sometimes “so” may be too informal for academic writing.In these cases, you can use one of these alternatives to starting a sentence with “so”:
- In order that
- In such a manner
Can You Start a Sentence With “So” in Informal Writing?
You can start a sentence with “so” in informal writing and it is common.
There are many ways that you can use “so,” and often, the word after it changes the meaning.
However, “so” by itself means “therefore.”
- We do not have any time this weekend. So, we will not be attending your dinner party.
You can also use it to change the subject or clarify a point. However, some people find this a little condescending or patronizing, so be careful with how you use it.
- You clearly didn’t follow the instructions. So, I will send them to you again.
You can also use phrases such as “so far” and “so that” in informal writing. Below are some examples and possible synonyms to use in everyday sentences:
- So far, you have done a great job. Please keep it up!
- Up to now, you have done a great job. Please keep it up!
- So that the competition is fair, we will be judging it anonymously.
- For the competition to be fair, we will be judging it anonymously.