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Clause of purpose

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We use certain clauses to show why somebody does something. These are called clauses of purpose. They are introduced with the following words or expressions:

to + infinitive; David went out to buy a bottle of wine.

in order to/so as to + infinitive (formal); We were asked to say over in order to finish the project.

so that + can/will – used for a present or future reference; Here’s my number so that you can call me if you have a problem.

so that +could/would – used for a past reference; We left early so that we would be able to park close to the stadium.

in case + present tense – present or future reference – Take your hat in case it gets too hot.

in case + past tense – used for past reference – We took an umbrella in case it rained.

for + noun – used to express purpose – We went out for a pizza.

for + -ing – used to express purpose and/or function of something – This function on the air conditioner is for reducing humidity.


For negative purpose we use:

in order not to/so as not to + infinitive – we walked in quietly so as not to wake up the children.

prevent + noun/pronoun + from + ing – I parked the car under a tree to prevent it from getting too hot.

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school

Choose the correct phrase for the following:

  • 1. We worked hard just before Christmas _ we could really enjoy the holiday.

  • 2. John just popped out _ the paper.

  • 3. Take your house keys in case I _ out when you come back.

  • 4. This oven is used _ bread.

  • 5. This bracelet is _ Sarah. It’s her birthday tomorrow.

  • 6. John whispered _ disturb the other passengers on the flight.