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So that vs. to + infinitive: expressing purpose


English has various ways of expressing purpose. We can use so that or in order to; sometimes we
can simply use the verb infinitive.
Expressing purpose with a verb infinitive
We use to + infinitive when we want to show the purpose of an action. (purpose
= why we do something)
We can use to + infinitive when we want to
say why someone did something.
A: 'Why did you go to London?'
B: 'To see my sister.'

I'm going to the bank to get some money.
We can use to + infinitive when we want to
say why something exists.
The information desk is there to
help tourists.
The police were there to control the crowd.
We can use to + infinitive after adjectives
likeeasy, hard, difficult, impossible, etc.
It's hard to speak a foreign language
fluently.
It's impossible to walk on water.
She finds it easy to make new friends.
'to' vs. 'for'
We use for before a noun: for dinner, for lunch, for a holiday.
We use to before a verb: to eat, to have a holiday.
I went to Madrid for learning to learn Spanish.

Compare: What would you like to eat? What would you like for breakfast?

Expressing purpose with 'so that'
We often use to + infinitive to express a purpose. (We say: I went to the bank to get some
money;I took a taxi to get there faster, etc.)
Sometimes we cannot use the infinitive - we must use so that.
We use so that to say
that one person does
something and as a result
someone else can
do or doesnt have to
do something else.
We built a pool in the garden so that the children
can (or could) swim in hot weather.
He bought his wife a car so that she didnt have to take the
bus so often.
They guarded the prisoner well so that he
didnt (or wouldnt) escape.
We use so that to say
that one action makes
Ive bought a dictionary so that I can learn more.
I bought a dictionary so that I could learn more.
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another action possible.

We use so that + can /
could / will be able to /
would have.
Im going to buy a dictionary so that I can (or will be able
to) learn more.
We arrived at the theatre early so that we would have time
to eat before the show.
We use so that to say
that one action will help
us to avoid having to do
something.

We use so that + dont
have to / wont have to /
wouldnt have to.
Im going shopping this evening so that I
dont (or wont) have togo tomorrow.
I go shopping on Friday evenings so that I dont have to go
at the weekends.
I went shopping on Friday evening so that I
didnt (or wouldn't)have to go at the weekend.
We use so that to say
that one action will
prevent another thing
happening.

We use so that + wont /
wouldnt / dont.
Ive brought an umbrella so that I dont (or wont) get wet.
Im going to bring an umbrella so that I dont (or wont)
get wet.
I took an umbrella so that I wouldnt (or didn't) get wet.
I always carry an umbrella so that I dont get wet.
'So that' or 'so'? In informal speech, native English speakers often omit that and say
only so. However, this can be confusing for learners and we recommend you use so
that in its full form.

Alternatives to so that:
so that I could learn = in order to learn
so that I didnt have to learn = in order not to have to learn
(in order that and in order not are more formal than so that)

With stative verbs (know, have, seem, appear, etc.) we often use in order to or so as
to instead of 'so that'.








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TIPS FOR WRITING A GOOD COMPOSITION

1
st
STEP - Analysis of the title
The title must be analyzed identifying the three main points :

Subject Focus Comment


2
nd
STEP - Brainstorming
Reflect on the focus identified by the title and take notes. Remember to cross out the banal and
superficial ideas.

3
rd
STEP - Organization
The organization changes according to the kind of essay you are going to write.

A. In the case of an essay by listing you can follow the scheme below :

Introducers : establish the topic
focus and the point of view
1
st
paragraph

Pre-topic sentence (background information)
2
nd
paragraph

Introductory sentence (In fact/For example X
has three main aspects / X should be 1, 2, 3)
about how the work will be organized
4

Developers :
define the ideas anticipated in
the introduction, present
examples and details to support
them

Modulators :
sentences that consent a passage
from a point of view, context or
aspect to another
3
rd
, 4
th
, 5
th

paragraphs
Point 1 (First, Firstly )

Point 2 (Then / Secondly )

Point 3 (The third argument / Thirdly ) *
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Terminators : paragraphs that
conclude the ideas in a logical and
psychologically satisfying way
6
th
paragraph
Personal opinion and conclusion :
Now you can express your opinion and make
reference to your personal experience *
* For the use of linkers, refer to the table below.

EXAMPLE
Develop the title given following the table below.
Qualities for Success in the 21
st
Century

1
st
STEP - Analysis of the title
The title must be analyzed identifying the three main points :

Subject Focus Comment
Qualities for Success in the 21
st
Century
Reasoning by list and
examples, expressing opinion
2
nd
STEP - Brainstorming

Reflect on the focus identified by the title and take notes. Remember to cross out the banal and
superficial ideas.

Subject Focus Comment
5

Personal qualities for success success in the 21
st
Century
Reasoning by list and
examples, expressing opinion
Identification of qualities
Reasoning on flexibility (what it
is, why it is necessary)

Reasoning on honesty (what it
is, why it is necessary)

Reasoning on creativity (what it
is, why it is necessary)

Reasoning on perseverance
(what it is, why it is necessary)

Reasons for your choice,
results of reasoning




3
rd
STEP - Organization

what personal qualities will
be needed for success in the
21
st
century?
1
st
paragraph

Pre-topic sentence (background information)
Possibly the four most
essential attributes are
2
nd
paragraph

Introductory sentence (In fact/For example X has three main
aspects / X should be 1, 2, 3) about how the work will be
organized (listing)
flexibility (what it is, why it is
necessary, example)
honesty (what it is, why it is
necessary, example)
creativity (what it is, why it is
necessary, example)
perseverance (what it is, why
it is necessary, example)
3
rd
, 4
th
, 5
th
, 6
th

paragraphs
Point 1 (First, Firstly )

Point 2 (Then / Secondly )

Point 3 (The third argument / Thirdly )

Point 4 (Finally) *
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as today, so in the future 7
th
paragraph
Personal opinion and conclusion :
Now you can express your opinion and make reference to
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your personal experience *
* For the use of linkers, refer to the table below .







B. In the case of an essay by arguments for and against you can follow the scheme below :

Introducers : establish the topic
focus and the point of view
1
st
paragraph

Background information
2
nd
paragraph

How the work will be organized
Suitable verbs : going to, will, intend, look at, deal
with

Developers :
define the ideas anticipated in
the introduction, present
examples and details to support
them

Modulators : sentences that
consent a passage from a point of
view, context or aspect to
another
3
rd
paragraph Arguments for
Introductory sentence (There are three
points)
Point 1 (Firstly )
Point 2 (Secondly )
Point 3 (The third argument ) *
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4
th
paragraph

Arguments against
Introductory sentence (Three points / aspects
can be )
Point 1 (First, )
Point 2 (Then / secondly )
Point 3 (Thirdly ) *

Terminators : paragraphs that
conclude the ideas in a logical and
5
th
paragraph Personal opinion and conclusion :
Now you can express your opinion and make
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psychologically satisfying way reference to your personal experience *
* For the use of linkers, refer to the table below.

EXAMPLE
Develop the title given following the table below.
Should smoking be allowed in public places?

1
st
STEP - Analysis of the title
The title must be analyzed identifying the three main points :
Subject Focus Comment
Smoking Smoking in public places? Answering, expressing opinion

2
nd
STEP - Brainstorming
Reflect on the focus identified by the title and take notes. Remember to cross out the banal and
superficial ideas.
Subject Focus Comment
Smoking Smoking in public places? Answering, expressing
opinion
Present situation
Reasons for the present law
Reasons of the smokers
Reasons of the non-smokers
Effects on health
Psychological aspects
Social, economic and political
aspects etc.


3
rd
STEP - Organization

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people are more aware of the
dangers of smoking today
smokers are separated from
non-smokers in most countries
1
st
paragraph Background information
Im going to examine 2
nd
paragraph How the work will be organized
Suitable verbs : going to, will, intend, look at, deal
with
smoking not illegal
passive smoking causes cancer?
No proof
3
rd
paragraph Arguments for
Introductory sentence (There are three
points)
Point 1 (Firstly )
Point 2 (Secondly )
Point 3 (The third argument )
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a dirty habit
cause of fires
non-smokers need a smoke-
free environment
4
th
paragraph

Arguments against
Introductory sentence (As regards the
arguments against, three points/aspects can be
)
Point 1 (First, )
Point 2 (Then / secondly )
Point 3 (Thirdly )*

separate smokers
special tax on cigarettes
5
th
paragraph Personal opinion and conclusion :
Now you can express your opinion and make
reference to your personal experience
* For the use of linkers, refer to the table below :

Table of linkers :
To give order Firstly - at first - initially - and - then - immediately
afterwards - later on - some time - later - in conclusion
To indicate consequence As a result - as a consequence - consequently - thus - therefore
because of that
To indicate continuation And - moreover - besides - furthermore - in addition to
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To indicate simultaneity Meanwhile - while - in the meantime
To contrast or contradict Instead - yet - but - on the contrary - even if - even though -
however - on one hand / on the other hand - nevertheless - in spite
of
To rephrase In other words - that is to say - this means that - i.e.(Latin : id
est) - to put it another way
To exemplify That is - namely - e.g. (Latin : exempli gratia = for example) -
for example - for instance - an example of this is -
To express opinion In my opinion - I am of the opinion that - as regards me - as far as I
am concerned - as concerns me - to my way of thinking - to my
mind - I personally believe that
To conclude Last - finally - to conclude - summing up - to wind/wrap/sum up