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I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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Correcting one's drinking buddies on grammar is a good way to end up drinking alone.

"Lancaster"



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Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 5/22/2020

Totals
Posts - 2618
Comments - 2633
Hits - 2,258,371

Averages
Entries/day - 0.42
Comments/entry - 1.01
Hits/day - 366

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 3:13 PM Pacific


  10:54 PM

Not long ago I posted about terms that just bug me. One of the commenters suggested the addition of in order to, on the theory that it's just grandiloquence. This isn't untrue. For example, the BBC suggests that in order to and just plain to "convey exactly the same meaning when conveying purpose."

However, sometimes I actually find myself inserting in order to. This is not because I love wordiness, haha, but because there are contexts in which it helps disambiguate a phrase. Consider these examples:

The method is required to support binary conversion.
The method is required in order to support binary conversion.

The target server is a setting that you add to publish data.
The target server is a setting that you add in order to publish data.

It's a prerequisite that you need to deploy a web site.
It's a prerequisite that you need in order to deploy a web site.

You can assign query strings to the Query property to return data.
You can assign query strings to the Query property in order to return data.

Sign In To Download Credentials
Sign In In Order To Download Credentials

The phrase in order to introduces a so-called infinitive phrase. If the phrase that follows to can be interpreted as either an infinitive phrase or as a noun phrase, it's advisable to include in order to disambiguate. This tends to come up with verbs that have a phrasal relationship with the preposition to. As you can see, examples include add [to], need [to], assign [to], required [to], and like [to].

Of course, native speakers can often tell from context what the intended meaning is. In our case, tho, we know that we have many readers who read English as a second language. And one of our "readers" is also machine translation program, which is getting better, but which needs all the help that we can offer for disambiguating constructions.

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