to what purpose

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Makoron, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Makoron

    Makoron Junior Member

    Kyoto,Japan
    Japanese
    Are there any differences between 'to what pupose?' and 'for what purpose?'?
    Because 'to no purpose' and 'for no pupose' has a different meaning, doesn't it?

    Makoron
     
  2. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Please give us a sentence in which you might use these, Makoron. :)

    Context helps us give you an accurate answer. (And it's a forum requirement. ;) )
     
  3. Makoron

    Makoron Junior Member

    Kyoto,Japan
    Japanese
    I found a book entitled " To What Purpose Is This Waste?" by Joseph G., but I didn't know this expression. What I knew was "For what purpose?", the expression you can use when you simply want to ask the purpose of something.

    Then I looked up in my dictionary. I couldn't find "to what purpose" but there were these phrases, "to no purpose" and "for no purpose".

    to no purpose: with no result or effect ; pointlessly / He tried again but to no purouse.

    for no purpose: without aim / They live for no purpose

    But I still don't understand "To what purpose", so I asked that.

    Makoron
     
  4. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Thank you for your excellent explanation, Makoron. :)

    I agree with your question. "To what purpose" sounds strange to me. We do have the expression "to what end", which means approximately the same thing as "for what purpose", but I don't think I have heard "to what purpose".

    I hope someone else will explain it to us. :)
    Maybe people who live in a region than I do say this.
     
  5. Makoron

    Makoron Junior Member

    Kyoto,Japan
    Japanese
    Thank you, Cagey, for your kind and quick reply. Umm, but this book seems to be written by an English native speaker. Well, is there anyone who uses this phrase?

    Makoron
     
  6. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    This correctly expresses the meaning of 'to no purpose'. It means 'in vain'.
    It refers internally to the sense of the verb. Thus 'He spoke to no purpose' means that he might as well not have spoken at all (for example, because no one could hear him). It does not mean he had no purpose (intention) in speaking.

    The title 'To what purpose is this waste?' is a rhetorical question. In other words, it means 'This waste is to no purpose'.
    However, that sentence is redundant (tautological), because if something is wasted, then it is by definition used or done to no purpose.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  7. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I agree with Wandle. I think "To what purpose?" is always intended to be a rhetorical question, and the answer is always "There is no purpose."
     
  8. Makoron

    Makoron Junior Member

    Kyoto,Japan
    Japanese
    Thank you, Wandle. I understood very well. So, it is a rhetorical question that implys it is in vain. Thank you very much.
     

Share This Page