Is "so" considered informal. and not suitable for formal writing, such as writings for application to graduate schools?

For example,

My experiences are non-traditional, so I had wondered what I could bring for my application. Now, my answer is ...


My experiences are non-traditional. Therefore I had wondered what I could bring for my application. Now, my answer is ...

What would you write, if it were you? Thanks!

By the way, is "bring ... for my application" correct?

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    I don't like the second one at all. The first sentence seems too short, giving the text a "choppy" feel. Another alternative would be: Because my experiences are non-traditional, I wondered what I could bring for my application. – J.R. Jan 1 '14 at 1:30
  • @J.R.: I started my statement of purpose with the quote. I have changed it to "My experiences are non-traditional. Therefore, my friend asked me what I could bring for my application. Now, my answer is ...". I guess using "I had wondered" might make people more doubt about my resolution? – Tim Jan 1 '14 at 1:34
  • @Tim: The "I had wondered" is doubtful indeed, doesn't make sense if I might say. Take a look at my answer below. – Safira Jan 1 '14 at 2:10
  • By "bring" do you mean bring something with you, to a face-to-face interview? Most applications to graduate school are done with letters and electronic forms, which is why I was confused by "bring." But I'm starting to understand it now, based on your other comment below. – J.R. Jan 1 '14 at 10:48
  • @J.R.: I mean bring something about me to "the table" for my application. – Tim Jan 1 '14 at 16:46

In your example, "so" is not informal. It's a perfectly good word.

"So" may be informal in other contexts. For example, "So, what do you think?" where it is probably just a filler word (depending on context).

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  • Thanks! Do you like the first one with "so", or the second one with "therefore"? A side question, which one do you think is better, "I had wondered" or "I have wondered"? – Tim Dec 31 '13 at 22:32
  • I don't think either is really "better". "Therefore" is longer and therefore sounds a little more formal, perhaps. – Jay Jan 2 '14 at 14:20
  • "I had wondered" is past perfect while "I have wondered" is present perfect. That is, "I had wondered" means that you wondered at some specific time in the past, but you are not wondering now. "I have wondered" means you wondered in the past and you still wonder now. As I think in context your last sentence indicates that you now believe you have the solution, the wondering is over, so "I had wondered" appears to be what you mean. – Jay Jan 2 '14 at 14:24

It's exactly as written in Jay's answer. Not only that the so is not informal, but also is written perfectly correctly.

What bothers me is the therefore. It's indeed formal, but it's not written correctly.

You should write it like this:

My experiences are non-traditional. Therefore, I am wondering what to do about/with my application. Now, my answer is ...

See, I put a comma (,) there (after the word therefore). To write a consequence sentence after the cause sentence, you write the word connecting them along with a comma.

Besides, you are wondering at the moment, so using a past perfect tense is not a good idea. Since it'll mean that you did wonder, not anymore. [This counts only if I get your meaning correctly, that you're still confused about what to do with the application.]

The last thing is, the bring for my application just seems a bit weird and uncommon to me. Cause the verb bring has a direct object. Therefore, it cannot be followed by for (should be followed by a noun). Besides, you can't bring anything if it's about an application. Cause what you bring is the application itself. Maybe you wanted to say:

  • what to do about the application, or
  • what to put on the application (like what J.R.'s comment said), or
  • what to use for the application.

Unless, you meant you're confused what application to bring.

On the other side, I prefer therefore, cause it'll make the sentences look pretty well arranged. [What you were confused might not be the informality, but the "look" of the sentences]

This is a better formed sentence suggested by Damkerng T.:

I am well aware that my experiences are non-traditional at best; therefore, I am wondering which experiences of mine are worth mentioning in my application ...

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  • I agree about "bring for my application" – it sounds odd. I wonder if the O.P. means "what to put on my application." – J.R. Jan 1 '14 at 1:31
  • Maybe, but he has not responded to this answer yet. So we don't know what he actually wants to say. – Safira Jan 1 '14 at 2:04
  • @J.R. and Safira: "I would like to bring some characteristics of mine (such as curiosity, knowledge, experiences, etc) to the table for my application." Does that still not make sense? What would you say if it were you? – Tim Jan 1 '14 at 2:32
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    Hold on, what kind of application do you mean? Is that some software or what? It still sounds weird to bring your characteristics. It could be like show, use, or something similar, not bring. It's not common. – Safira Jan 1 '14 at 2:49
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    @Tim Reading all the answers and comments, I think this should be close enough: "I am well aware that my experiences are non-traditional at best; therefore, I am wondering which experiences of mine are worth mentioning in my application ..." – Damkerng T. Jan 1 '14 at 6:15

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