to / in order to / so as to

Caleín

Senior Member
español (España)
Hi!

What's in your opinion the difference between to, in order to and so as to and so (that) and in order that?

I think the first is followed by an infinitive whereas in the second case there's a subject of the subordinate action, am I right?

Thank you.
 
  • SusanBryan

    Senior Member
    Spanish- Br. English
    NO, for me they are very similar, it is just a question of being more or less formal in the use of English. Wait for more learned answers!!! Saludos!!
     

    kayokid

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Hello.

    The policeman went to the crime scene...
    ... to look for clues.
    ... in order to look for clues.
    ... so as to (be able to) look for clues.
    ... so that he could look for clues.
    ... in order that he could look for clues.

    Maybe that will be of some help.

    EDIT: They all really mean pretty much the same thing...
     

    Chris K

    Senior Member
    English / US
    "So that" and "in order that" have to be followed by a new subject and verb (though the subject can be the same as the initial clause).

    I have to get home so that my dog can have a walk / I have to get home so that I can walk the dog.

    The others would normally be followed by an infinitive, with no additional subject:

    I have to get home [in order] to walk my dog.

    "So as to" is less common but the same rule would apply.
     

    AquisM

    Senior Member
    English/Cantonese
    Yes, they are more or less interchangeable with regard to meaning. It's just the usage rules that matter, like Chris K has said.
     

    Caleín

    Senior Member
    español (España)
    SusanBryan, Kayokid, Chris K and AquisM, thank you again for your fast answers, explanations and examples.

    Now one more thing. I suppose that, in order to deny a sentence with "so that" or "in order that", i don't need to insert "not" before "that", but deny the verb of the subordinate clause:

    I've come early in order that you don't feel alone.
     

    Chris K

    Senior Member
    English / US
    SusanBryan, Kayokid, Chris K and AquisM, thank you again for your fast answers, explanations and examples.

    Now one more thing. I suppose that, in order to deny a sentence with "so that" or "in order that", i don't need to insert "not" before "that", but deny the verb of the subordinate clause:

    I've come early in order that you don't feel alone.
    We usually would say "in order that you won't feel alone / lonely," or "so that you won't..."
     

    Caleín

    Senior Member
    español (España)
    I see, thank you for the correction. I've thought the sentence in Spanish in subjunctive, you know ;)
     

    kayokid

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    SusanBryan, Kayokid, Chris K and AquisM, thank you again for your fast answers, explanations and examples.

    Now one more thing. I suppose that, in order to deny negate a sentence with "so that" or "in order that", i don't need to insert "not" before "that", but deny negate the verb of the subordinate clause:tick::

    I've come early in order that you don't feel alone.
    But the sentence would really read/sound better this way:
    I've come early so that you don't/won't feel lonely.
    or
    ... so that you won't/wouldn't be alone.
     

    Caleín

    Senior Member
    español (España)
    I must admit, Kayokid, that is difficult for me to translate Spanish subjunctive tenses into English. I can't see very well the forms won't and wouldn't, I mean, they don't came naturally to my mind. However, I'm learning English... Discover and incorporate new things is my job... :D.
     
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    k-in-sc

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Well, the subjunctive usually doesn't sound right in English, just like the absence of it doesn't sound right in Spanish.
    I came in early so you wouldn't be all by yourself.
     

    victordh

    Member
    spanish
    But the sentence would really read/sound better this way:
    I've come early so that you don't/won't feel lonely.
    or
    ... so that you won't/wouldn't be alone.
    Why not "wouldn't feel lonely" or "aren't alone"?
    Could it be beacause the verb to be is different from the rest?
     

    Dosamuno

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    “The phrase in order to is often wordy for the simple infinitive—e.g.
    “In order to (read To) control class sizes, the district will place several portable classrooms at the four schools.”

    The primary exception occurs when another infinitive is nearby in the sentence—e.g.:
    “The controversy illustrates how the forces of political correctness pressure governments to grow in size and arbitrariness in order to pursue a peculiar political mission.

    Garner’s Modern English Usage, pp.516-517

    One could say the same for “so as to”.
     

    victordh

    Member
    spanish
    Why not "wouldn't feel lonely" or "aren't alone"?
    Could it be beacause the verb to be is different from the rest?
    Ok, I am going to reply to myself as I've found a possible explanation.
    "Aren't alone" cannot be used becuse then the sentence "I've come early so (that) you aren't alone." might be interpreted to mean "you aren't alone, that is a fact, and the reason for it is that I have come early" instead of the intended meaning "I have come early for you not to be alone". In the first sentence "I've come early so (that) you don't/won't feel lonely" we don't have that problem. It cannot be interpreted that "you don't feel lonely" is a fact because I cannot know (unless you first tell me) how you feel right know. Therefore there's no ambiguity and "don't" can be used.
    I also have a related explanation as to why "wouldn't feel lonely" cannot be used in the first sentence, like "I've come early so that you wouldn't feel lonely", but it can be used in the second one "I've come early so that you wouldn't be alone" albeit I am not so sure about this one. The reason might be that "wouldn't be alone" implies that I know you used to be alone (which is a fact) whereas "wouldn't feel lonely" implies that I know you used to feel lonely, which again I cannot know whithout you first telling me so, and it would be impolite for me to assume so.
    Is all this correct? Come on some native speaker, get in and shed some light!
     
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