Expressing the Idea of 'In Order To' or 'So That'

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Phrases such as "in order to," "so that," and "with the aim of" are known as subordinators of purpose — and there are several ways to get across those ideas in Spanish. 

Using Para and Para Que for 'In Order To'

The most common Spanish subordinator of purpose is the conjunction para or the phrase para que, as in the following examples:

  • Come para vivir, no vive para comer. (Eat in order to live, do not live in order to eat.)
  • Para perder peso, tiene que reducir la cantidad de calorías en su dieta. (In order to lose weight, you have to reduce the number of calories in your diet.)
  • Haga click en la foto para conocer los últimos trabajos de este artista. (Click on the picture in order to learn more about the final works of this artist.)
  • Voy a hacer una lista para que no olvides mis cosas. (I'm going to make a list so (or so that) you don't forget my things.)
  • Para que comprenda lo que quiero decir, primero permítame advertirle. (In order to understand what I want to say, first let me tell you.)
  • También se le debe ofrecer agua para que beba. (You can also offer him water so (or so that) he can to drink.)
  • Hay muchos trucos para que cocinar sea más fácil. (There are many tricks so that cooking is easier.)

Note that in most cases you the same Spanish translation works for either "in order to" or "so (that)."

As in the above examples, para que is followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, while para standing alone is followed by an infinitive. Also, you may notice that when the "para + infinitive" construction is used, the person performing both actions is the same, while when "para que + subjunctive" is used, the persons are different. See the difference in these simple examples:

  • Trabajo para comer. (I work so that I eat.)
  • Trabajo para que comas. (I work so that you eat.)

This rule isn't always strictly followed. It is possible under some circumstances to use para by itself when there is a shift of doer, or (more often) to use para que when there's not. But the method given here is the most common and also the easiest for foreigners to use if they wish to keep from making grammatical blunders.

Other Spanish Subordinators of Purpose

Here are some examples of other Spanish subordinators of purpose (in boldface):

  • Salieron a cazar por el día. (They left in order to hunt for the day.)
  • Llegan a comer mariscos. (They came in order to eat seafood.)
  • Llame al oficina a defin hablar confidencialmente con un asesor. (Call the office in order to speak confidentially with an advisor.)
  • A fin de que su aplicación sea útil, las correlaciones encontradas deben ser tan poco obvias que parezcan ilógicas. (In order for your application to be useful, the correlations found ought to be so inobvious that they seem illogical.)
  • Fueron a las ruinas con el fin de aprender más. (They went to the ruins with the goal of learning more.)
  • Con el fin de que el turismo pueda ser una actividad sostenible, es fundamental que se adopten códigos de conducta. (In order for tourism to be a sustainable activity, it is vital that codes of conduct be adopted.)
  • Con objeto de controlar la producción agraria, se prevén sistemas de cuotas. (In order to control farm production, quota systems are being planned.)
  • Con objeto de que los grupos sean lo más homogéneos posibles, rogamos que no participen los desempleados. (So that the groups are as homogenous as possible, we ask that unemployed persons not participate.)

As you might have guessed, the differences between a fin de and a fin de que, and between con objeto de and con objeto de que, are similar to the differences between para and para que.

Phrases such as con el fin de and con objeto de are more common in Spanish and less stuffy-sounding than English equivalents such as "with the purpose of."

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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Expressing the Idea of 'In Order To' or 'So That'." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Erichsen, Gerald. (2020, August 27). Expressing the Idea of 'In Order To' or 'So That'. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Expressing the Idea of 'In Order To' or 'So That'." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 28, 2023).