You will often need to use purpose, reason and result clauses in your written
and spoken work at university. This
provides you with reference and
practice material on these three types of adverbial clause.
You use a purpose clause when you want to state the purpose of the action in
the independent clause. The most common type of purpose clause is a
Sarah went to the computer lab to print out her research report.
In formal writing, in order to and so as to are often used.
The company conducted a detailed surveyin order to gauge its
In formal writing, you can also introduce a purpose clause with so that or in
order that. These finite purpose clauses usually contain a modal.
Dr Chan adjusted the overhead projector so that the students would
be able to see the chart more clearly.
The lecturer finished his lecture five minutes early so that the
students could come and ask him questions.
The difference between so and so that is that so that
implies that the cause was deliberately done by someone in order to get a
specific result. Click here for
There are a number of other ways of expressing purpose in English. These are
some of the most common ones:
with a view to, with the intention of, with the object/aim of,
for the purpose of
If you use these phrases, make sure that the verb is in the _ing form.
The university introduced two new English courses with a view to
enhancing students’ proficiency in the language.
2. Reason clauses
In your written and spoken assignments you will often need to answer the
question ‘Why?’. When you want to explain why something happens, you can use a
reason clause introduced by the conjunctions because, as or since.
As she wanted to practise her spoken English, Carrie regularly took
part in the ELC’s Big Mouth Corner.
Mark joined the English Drama Club because he wanted to improve his
Don’t use so in sentences beginning with since, as or
because. Here is a common mistake:
Since he was interested in movies, so David joined the PolyU
International Film Society.
You can also use the prepositional phrases because of and on
account of to express reason.
We were unable to carry out the experiment on account of a
malfunction in the computer.
We were unable to carry out the experiment because the computer
As you will see in the Vocabulary section below, there are many other ways of
indicating reason and cause in English.
3. Result clauses
When you want to indicate the result of an action or situation, you can use a
result clause. Result clauses are introduced by conjunctions such as so,
so... that, or such … that.
The lecture was boring and irrelevant, so some of the students
began to fall asleep.
Peter was having problems with mathematics, so he went to see his
tutor to ask for advice.
There were so many books on the subject that Cindy didn’t know
where to begin.
There was such a lot of material to cover that Ivan found it
difficult to keep up with his studies.
There are many other ways of talking about the result of an action or
situation. In some situations you may prefer to use and as a
result or with the result that.
The lecture was boring and irrelevant, and as a result some of the
students began to fall asleep.
The lecture was boring and irrelevant, with the result that some of
the students began to fall asleep.
As a result can also be used at the beginning of a new sentence.
The lecture was boring and irrelevant. As a result, some of the
students began to fall asleep.
The following words and phrases are used in the same way.
Therefore, Thus, In consequence, Consequently, For this/that
Causal relations can be expressed by ing-clauses of result.
The government increased the duty on wine. As a result, there was a
fall in demand.
The government increased the duty on wine, resulting in a fall in
Choose the correct word from the drop-down list: