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I have never thought I have heard the pattern "especially so [you]..." and when I came across yesterday it did not sound right. Of course if not a typo then it must be correct being in Merriam Webster's so does it sound "good English"-whatever that means?

Some Patterns familiar are:

  • especially when/where/... you
  • especially to do/make/...
  • especially doing/making ...

slice and dice chiefly US : to divide something into many small parts especially so you can use the result for your own purposes ▪You can slice and dice the data any way you want.

Source: Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary

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    It's the same as especially so (that) [ you ... ]. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 10:25
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    This particular sentence is awkward because the "especially" could be modifying "small parts": "to divide something into many small parts especially [rather than into larger pieces] so you can use the result for your own purposes." It would be much clearer if there were a comma before the "especially": "to divide into many small parts, especially so you can use the result for your own purposes."
    – 1006a
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 14:05
  • What jumped out at me is that the "you" seems a bit informal for a dictionary, a context that doesn't normally address the reader.
    – Random832
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 15:19
  • @nedibes That's exactly what happened at first sight. I stopped for a moment and thought about what 'especially' modifies.
    – learner
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 15:26

2 Answers 2

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Does it make more sense if we insert that?

to divide something into many small parts especially so that you can use the result for your own purposes

If not, then let us consider one of the definitions of so.

so

  1. in order that (often followed by that)

So we can reword the original into

to divide something into many small parts especially in order that you can use the result for your own purposes


Apparently you (OP) think that a comma would make sense "when spoken", but I personally didn't think it made a difference. This is because, typically, in the usual dictionary writing style, the word especially refers to the text the proceeds it, not precedes it.

I think there are a number of things that are strange with this entry. Two that I can formulate are 1. The entry goes from writing in the infinitive style (I don't know the correct name) to dropping the infinitive style and addressing the reader. 2. The entry drops the "that" in "so that".

Dictionary entries not usually address the reader. So that was odd. I also think "so that" sounds better, per se. Not because it is any more correct, but simply out of habit.

Maybe the learner dictionaries are different, or this particular entry is an odd, but I might have written it as

  1. to divide something into many small parts especially to use the result for one's own purposes
  2. to divide something into many small parts especially for one's own purposes
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  • Well, I know 'so' could be subbed with 'so that'. Honestly it makes it better but still does not sound natural. By natural, I mean to my ears of a nonnative speaker. Anyway, I conclude that it is natural to you and it should become to me too. Thank you.
    – learner
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 10:57
  • Well, it did sound a little strange to me, but I understood what it meant. I'm not sure why it sounds strange though, because I feel like this is definitely something I might say, "especially so you can". Maybe it is the absence of "that" that makes it sound strange, but it is common to omit "that", in this and other uses. I will have to think about this.
    – Em.
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 11:01
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    @learner: The sentence as a whole is definitely a bit awkward to the native ear, but not the "especially so you" part in and of itself. The comma nedibles suggested would help markedly. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 14:13
  • @T.J.Crowder A comma would make a big difference when spoken-I mentioned what happened when I first read the definition; +1 for markedly
    – learner
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 15:34
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To show the result or consequence of something, both so and so that are used; although, in my opinion, the latter would better be used to show the purpose whereas the former -- the consequence.

In the definition you have cited, the possibility of using the result for your own purpose does seem to be both the consequence and result of the dividing, so both so and so that would work interchangeably.

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