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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 1st, 2010, 12:36 am
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Default difference between "so" and "because"

I had a student ask when to use "so" and when to use "because"

I needed eggs, so I went to the store.

I went to the store because I needed eggs.

I know in simple cases like these it's a matter of which act is more important or stressed and they are often interchangeable. However, does anyone know of a simple rule?


I also told her "because" is probably more common with cause or reason and "so" more so with results. That's the best I could get out at the time.

I listen to music, because it relaxes me.

I found myself at the store, so I ate lunch a little early.
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Unread Mar 1st, 2010, 01:37 am
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

Hi Mark,
Because is always used with cause/reason and so with results/consequences. Try it the other way round - it doesn't work.

So basically it's a matter of which way round you want to present the two pieces of information. If you order them cause, connective + result then you'll link with so - as in your example : I needed eggs, so I went to the store.

Change the order and it becomes result, connective + cause : I went to the store because I needed eggs.

There's a lot more that could be said about their grammar (because is a subordinator and therefore the position of the because clause could change, so a co-ordinator or sentence connective which will always come in mid-position between the two pieces of info) and use (in formal language so would tend to be replaced by therefore etc), but I don't think it's relevant to your example. Here, the only thing the student needs to know is the difference in meaning.

Hope that helps.
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Unread Mar 2nd, 2010, 03:55 pm
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

Mark, I'm sure you could think of a new game or fun activity with "so" and "because."
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Unread Mar 7th, 2010, 06:43 am
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

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Quote susan53 View Post
Hi Mark,
Because is always used with cause/reason and so with results/consequences.
Sue - Thanks! That definitely does help. I guess I had it right, but you've got it all nice and neat there.

I met with my student last Fri. and passed the info on. She seemed quite content with just that explanation.

So, again, thanks!
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Unread Mar 7th, 2010, 06:50 am
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

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Mark, I'm sure you could think of a new game or fun activity with "so" and "because."
Ahhh ... a challenge ...

I read this at the end of last week and was hoping I could get something together but I must admit, I haven't worked that hard on it.

As a first run at it, I might put together some dice, say three dice: one with actions, one with results/reasons and one with "so" and "becuase".

Students would roll all three dice and make a sentence using whatever comes up. You could have a fourth dice as a point dice if you needed some sort of contest/competition related aspect.

Not really unique, but I'll keep thinking. It seems like a pretty good point to stress to help students get into the English mind.
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Unread Mar 7th, 2010, 03:29 pm
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

Wow! I looked at your dice maker. Is it better to make the dice with regular paper or cardstock? Do the dice roll well?
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Unread Mar 7th, 2010, 05:00 pm
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

I'm glad you like the dice maker. It's a fun and simple conversational game idea. Check here for dice game ideas.

It's best to make them with sturdier card or construction paper. Paper is OK but the dice will be pretty flimsy and light.

They don't roll so well, because they lack weight and a hard surface, So, I have my student throw them up in the air a bit.
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Unread Mar 7th, 2010, 05:50 pm
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

I wonder if I should just buy some foam cubes and write on the sides with permanent markers.
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Unread Mar 7th, 2010, 05:54 pm
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

Thanks for the link to the dice game ideas. You know that students find it very hard to use the past tense. I could make dice with pictures of verbs, and no text. I could tell the students to play the game in the past tense. Oh yeah!
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Unread Mar 7th, 2010, 06:11 pm
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Default Re: difference between "so" and "because"

using pictures really makes teaching materials flexible. When its a written word, you're sort of stuck.

The benefit of printable dice is it's cheap, but a little labor intensive. The other thing is you can throw them away and you don't feel as bad as tossing a bunch of plastic/foam. However, you can tape words/pictures onto bigger dice and get the same results. Then you don't need to have a bunch of dice in the closet.
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