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SOURCE

  • Normally we don’t think of space as having properties at all, so it is counterintuitive.

Doesn’t the conjunction “so” give the meaning of because in the context?

If we paraphrase it in another way:

A_ Because space is counterintuitive, normally we don’t think of it as having any properties at all.

Or :

B_ Space is counterintuitive because normally we don’t think of it as having any properties.

Which one is correct?

  • So=signals a result. – Lambie Dec 15 '17 at 0:22
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It seems to be more the equivalent of therefore than because:

Normally we don’t think of space as having properties at all; therefore, it is counterintuitive.

As for your reordering, I don't think you can mix up the order of the "cause" and the "effect" without also changing the conjunctive adverb:

For example, I can say:

Drinking impairs judgment; therefore, it is important not to drink and drive.

but that can't be rephrased as:

It is important not to drink and drive; therefore, drinking impairs judgment.

However, I can do the rephrasing if I switch therefore to because:

It is important not to drink and drive because drinking impairs judgment.

which means your Version B is correct:

Space is counterintuitive because normally we don’t think of it as having any properties.

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In this case the word “so" means “therefore” because the word “it” doesn’t refer to space, it refers to a statement in a previous sentence of the article:

Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space, created by movements of massive objects.

Both of your examples are grammatically correct. However, neither sentence conveys the meaning of the original sentence you quoted because the source is describing the statement “Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space” as counterintuitive; it’s not describing space itself as counterintuitive. If the word “it” did refer to “space” then the meaning of “so” would indeed be “because" here.

Paraphrased:

"Normally we don’t think of space as having properties at all, so the idea that gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space is counterintuitive."

The confusion here seems to be a result of the fact that personal quotes in news articles are often taken from a conversation with the journalist, so the exact context isn't always clear. But in this case it seems fairly straightforward; he's stating that ripples in the fabric of space seem counterintuitive because we don't think of space as having properties (as opposed to something like ripples in water, which we do think of as having properties).

  • The content may be wrong but the grammar is fine in A and B, but not the first one given at the beginning of his question. – Lambie Dec 15 '17 at 0:21
  • There's nothing wrong with the grammar, but it's clear from his example sentences that he misinterpreted the meaning of the sentence. I've edited the response to clarify this. – jungledream Dec 15 '17 at 0:24
  • I don't understand at all. You have corrected the physics, as it were... – Lambie Dec 15 '17 at 0:34
  • This is about the language, not the physics. The sentence he cites is a quote referring to a previous sentence in the article. – jungledream Dec 15 '17 at 0:40
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    You're welcome. I think "it" refers to the statement "Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space, created by movements of massive objects." which comes right before the sentence you cited. A different paraphrasing might be "Normally we don’t think of space as having properties at all, so the idea that gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space is counterintuitive." – jungledream Dec 15 '17 at 1:27

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