“So” and “Therefore” Are Clumsy Companions

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A reader has noticed the juxtaposition of so and therefore and wonders if this can be correct.

I have come across people using “So, therefore “.  I wonder what they mean by that ?!

Sure enough, this peculiar construction is widespread on the web:

I Fish So Therefore I Am

White Rabbit Gallery It’s the weekend, so therefore you should all be free to come into the gallery for one of our great tours at 1 pm and 2 pm today and tomorrow!

I haven’t experienced it so therefore it must not exist or matter or be valid…

Both so and therefore can be used as more than one part of speech. The so entry in the OED has forty numbered definitions plus a draft addition.

Careful writers will weigh the “so therefore” combination carefully to avoid redundancy.

If the so is a connecting word and the therefore a plain adverb, the use can be argued:

The climate is changing; so, therefore, must we.

If the words are being used as a two-word conjunction, warning signals should sound.

Therefore is more formal than so:

Formal: I missed the train; therefore I missed the party.

Informal: I missed the train, so I missed the party.

Another point to be made about the conjunctions so and therefore is that they’re “final” conjunctions. In formal writing they don’t belong at the beginning of a sentence.

Here’s how the Chicago Manual of Style explains their use:

Final (or illative) coordinating conjunctions denote inferences or consequences. The second clause gives a reason for the first clause’s statement, or it shows what has been or ought to be done in view of the first clause’s expression. The conjunctions include consequently, for, hence, so, thus, therefore, as a consequence, as a result, so that, and so then {he had betrayed the king; therefore he was banished} {it’s time to leave, so let’s go}. –CMOS 5.186

The careless combining of “so therefore” may be one of those runaway errors that can’t be caught. It has already found its way into the English Standard Version (2001) of the Bible:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. –Luke 14:33

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7 thoughts on ““So” and “Therefore” Are Clumsy Companions”

  1. My big pet peeve is not using ‘so’ at the beginning of a sentence necessarily, but at the start of a conversation or written article! It’s a conjunction – what thought can be joined to the very first sentence??

  2. Do people not understand that “desert” (something deserved or merited, e.g., “he received his just deserts”) is pronounced the same (hence, homophone) as desert (to abandon)?
    Sure, “dessert” is pronounced the same, but it’s not a homophone of “desert.”

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