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I have come across this problem numerous times. I am unsure of why a comma is needed in phrases such as the one below — between the words "question" and "so."

Our goal is to have the best answers to every question, so if you see questions or answers that can be improved, you can edit them.

I know why the second comma is needed, but I am unaware of why the first comma is needed. Perhaps someone could be kind enough to answer my question and explain why the comma is needed?

  • Possible duplicate of Should I use a comma before "and" or "or"? – user140086 Jan 27 '16 at 5:42
  • To give the reader time to finish processing the first part, and be clear-headed enough to take in the greater importance of the second part. – Born2Smile Jan 27 '16 at 8:01
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It's needed because there's a natural pause, the way you'd pause if you were saying it aloud.

I think a long dash would be even more effective there:

Our goal is to have the best answers to every question—so if you see questions or answers that can be improved, you can edit them.

This also separates the sentence into its two natural sections.

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"So" is a coordinating conjunction, so there should always be a comma in front of it (the fanboys), unless it is followed by "that", then never put a comma.

Eg. I am writing this so that you will understand.

  • Hi, Emil, Just a heads-up. Did you read the linked question in my comment above? You misspelled "never". – user140086 Jan 27 '16 at 8:47
  • I have to disagree. The coordinating conjunction "so" does not always need a comma before it. I know there's a reason as to why the comma is needed, but the reason you gave me is incorrect. – Gabriel Jan 27 '16 at 17:54

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