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Purpose, reason and result clauses

Aim:


You will often need to use purpose, reason and result clauses in your written and spoken work at university. This slideshowpage provides you with reference and practice material on these three types of adverbial clause.

On this page: Purpose Clauses, Reason Clauses, Result Clauses, Exercise

1. Purpose clauses

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 to-infinitive clause.

  • 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 survey in order to gauge its clients’ views.

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 intonation.

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 malfunctioned.

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 suchthat.

  • 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 reason

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 demand.

 

Exercise
Choose the correct word from the drop-down list:

Choose the correct word from the list.
  1. Kelvin changed his major from Geography to Business Studies  __________   improving his job prospects.

     

    Answer:
    with a view to

    Explanation:
    Kelvin purposely changed his major, so this sentence has a purpose clause. The word following the gap is improving, an _ing word. There is a list of words above that you could use in this gap, but the only phrase in the drop-down box from the list is with a view to. Click here for .
     

  2. Dr Leung arranged some extra tutorials  __________ give her students more opportunities to ask questions before the examination.
     

     

    Answer:
    so as to (to is also correct, but is not in the drop-down list)

    Explanation:
    This is a sentence with a purpose clause. The answer cannot be so that or in order that because the following word, give, is a verb. It cannot be with a view to, with the intention of, with the object/aim of, or for the purpose of because give is not an _ing verb.
     

  3. A key piece of equipment broke down  __________   the laboratory session had to be cancelled.

     

    Answers:
    so, with the result that

    Explanation:
    This is a sentence with a result clause. The answer cannot be so that because a piece of equipment cannot purposely decide to break down.
     

  4. __________ Tony has a very good foundation in English, he had little difficulty in passing the examination.
     

     

    Answers:
    As, Because

    Explanation:
    This is a sentence with a reason clause. The answer cannot be on account of, as this should be followed by a noun phrase, not a clause. It would be correct to write, 'On account of Tony's very good foundation in English, he had little difficulty in passing the examination.' as Tony's very good foundation in English is a noun phrase. Another possible answer is  'on account of Tony having a very good...'
     

  5. Professor Li repeated the point in Cantonese  __________   the students would fully understand.

     

    Answers:
    so, so that, in order that

    Explanation:
    This is a sentence with a purpose clause. So is correct because it means therefore in this example. Both so that and in order that show that Professor Li's purpose was to help the students understand. The answer cannot be to, because the word after the gap is not a verb. It would be correct to write 'Professor Li repeated the point in Cantonese to make sure / ensure that the students would fully understand.
     

  6. David was  __________   busy with his final-year project that he was unable to take part in extra-curricular activities.

     

    Answer:
    so

    Explanation:
    This is a sentence with a result clause. So matches with the that after project and can define busy. Such is wrong because such busy cannot go together. Such can be followed by a noun phrase; e.g. David was such a busy person that he was unable to take part in extra-curricular activities.
     

  7. It was  __________   a successful lecture series that the English Language Centre decided to repeat it the following semester.

     

    Answer:
    such

    Explanation:
    This is a sentence with a result clause. Such can be followed by a noun phrase; e.g. a successful lecture series. It is part of the phrase such...that.

     

  8. The examination had to be postponed  __________   the typhoon.

     

    Answer:
    on account of

    Explanation:
    This is a sentence with a reason clause. Because is wrong unless you write of after it; i.e. because of the typhoon. It would also be correct to write 'The examination had to be postponed due to the typhoon.'
     

  9. Amy joined the English Club  __________   she wanted to increase her circle of friends.

     

    Answers:
    as, because, since

    Explanation:
    This is a sentence with a reason clause. Because of and on account of are wrong because they are not followed by clauses, but by noun phrases; e.g. 'Amy joined the English Club because of her desire to increase her circle of friends.

  10. Your total score is:

 

Last updated on: Monday, March 26, 2012