6 Ways of Expressing Purpose in English

Hello English learners. Welcome to a new lesson. We will look at 6 ways of expressing purpose in English.

Here is the list:

  1. to + infinitive
  2. in order to + infinitive
  3. for + -ing
  4. for + noun
  5. so that + can/will/could/would/don’t have to…
  6. in case 

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To + infinitive

We can use the structure ‘to + infinitive’ to talk about a plan or intention. It is the most common way to express purpose in English.

  • Sara went to the new gallery to see the exhibition.
  • They turned on the TV to watch the football match.
  • I need a thermometer to measure temperature.
  • Mark went outside to take some fresh air.
  • Sofia went to the newsagents to buy a magazine.

Ways of expressing purpose in English

In order to + infinitive

We can use the structure ‘in order to + infinitive’ in a similar way, especially if we want to be more formal.

  • Many people do yoga nowadays in order to relax.
  • The company hired an architect in order to design a new building.
  • In order to attract more customers, they lowered the price of some products.
  • The government introduced a new tax in order to raise public revenue.
  • Simon was whispering in order not to wake up the baby.

For + -ing

The structure ‘for + -ing’ usually answers the question – what something is used or needed for, i.e. to talk about a function of something.

  • “What do you need a camera for?” “I need it for watching the stars.”
  • People use electric kettles for heating water.
  • This machine is used for mincing meat.
  • Can I use for phone for calling my wife?
  • We use this knife for opening letters.

Ways of expressing purpose in English

For + noun

To talk about purpose, we can use ‘to + noun’ as well. It answers the question – what something is intended or needed for.

  • ‘What do you need the chocolate for? ”I need it for the cake.
  • I’m going to the supermarket for some food.
  • They went to a cafe for a drink after work.
  • Shall we go out for some ice cream?
  • I stopped at my friend’s for a chat.

So that + can/will/could/would/don’t have to…

We can use the structure ‘so that + can/will/could/would/don’t have to…’ to express the purpose of someone’s doings.

  • They are learning to drive so that they can drive themselves to work.
  • I’m going to cook tonight so that I don’t have to do it tomorrow.
  • I bought a new dress so that I could wear it for my sister’s wedding.
  • Mary took her umbrella so that she wouldn’t get wet on her way to work.
  • He decided to keep himself busy so that he will not have time to think about his problems.

In case 

We can use the phrase ‘in case’ to express purpose as well.

  • Sandra cooked some more food in case she stayed at work longer.
  • Don’t forget to keep some candles by the door in case of a blackout.
  • Brian always keeps a glass of water by his bed in case he gets thirsty at night.

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Ways of expressing purpose in English
Ways of expressing purpose in English

My Lingua Academy

My Lingua Academy is an online school of English language. We give one-on-one lessons to students of English of all ages and all levels of knowledge all around the world. With us you can prepare for written assignments and exams, attend a general or business English course, or have conversation classes with qualified English teachers who have years of experience.

1 Comment

Barana Balta · 28 Jul 2023 at 8:22 am

Best version of English

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