- Parent Category: Lower-Intermediate Skill Builders
- Category: Lower-Intermediate Skill Builders: Grammar
- Written by Chris Cotter
What are clauses of purpose?
Clauses of purpose explain the reason for a person's action. Familiar clauses of purpose begin with so, because, so that, to, and for. We will focus on to and for only. Take a look at the following:
Katie will go to England to study gardening next September.
Bill joined a gym for his health.
The sentences explain Katie's purpose in going to England and Bill's purpose in joining a gym.
What is the sentence structure?
The sentence structure for to is as follows:
subject | verb | object/complement | to infinitive verb | object /complement
He | studied | English | to get | a better job.
Albert | tried to save | money | to buy | an engagement ring.
Here is the sentence structure for for:
subject | verb | object/complement | for | noun
Alex | went to | the bar | for | a drink.
She | wakes up | at seven a.m. every day | for | school.
How are clauses of purpose used?
Although both to and for describe the reason or purpose of an action, a distinction must be made between the two. To is used only with verb clauses. For is used only with noun clauses. In addition, a sentence may use more than once clause of purpose. For example:
He went to Australia to learn English.
He went to Australia for a homestay.
He went to Australia for a homestay to learn English.
It's important to note that gerunds (verb + ing) are nouns. However, they generally aren't used to describe the reason for something. Instead, gerunds describe the purpose of a thing or how it gets used. Let's look at the following examples. The first two provide the reason for Tammy's action, and so shouldn't use gerunds. The second set of examples provides the purpose of a thing, in this case an updated resume and its effect on job searches:
OK: Tammy updated her resume to find a better job.
not OK: Tammy updated her resume for finding a better job.
OK: An updated resume is important to find a better job.
OK: An updated resume is important for finding a better job.
Is there additional information on clauses of purpose?
Yes, there's one point. In order to functions the same as to, but is often used more formally. In addition, in order to states a negative purpose. For example: I got a flu shot in order to not be sick.