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    #1

    "In order to" usage

    Hi all,
    I was dealing with an accademic article a while ago, and the editor suggested me to have a check on the English to make it better. After they reviewd, I noticed that they removed the sentence "in order to" every time I used it.
    Phrases like:
    - "...a series of experimental tests conducted in order to evaluate the algorithm... "
    became:
    - "...a series of experimental tests conducted to evaluate the algorithm... ".

    Is there something wrong with this phrase that I completely ignore, or it was just a suggestion not to make the text too much verbose?

    Thanks,
    -Fabio

  1. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "In order to" usage

    Quote Originally Posted by fbs88italy View Post
    Hi all,
    I was dealing with an academic article a while ago, and the editor suggested I check the English to make it better. After [Use either he or she. One person is not a they.] reviewed it, I noticed that [Use either he or she] removed the sentence "in order to" every time I used it.
    Phrases like:
    - "...a series of experimental tests conducted in order to evaluate the algorithm... "
    became:
    - "...a series of experimental tests conducted to evaluate the algorithm... ".

    Is there something wrong with this phrase that I completely missed, or it was just a suggestion not to make the text too [Delete "much."] verbose?

    Thanks,
    -Fabio
    Hi, Fabio!

    As soon as I saw your headline, my first thought was: "in order to" is bad usage.

    So yes, it's a problem of style, not grammar.

    It means nothing more than "to" means. Other than that, it's only use is to slow down readers - a sort of speed bump. Sometimes that's useful. For instance, if you're writing a contract you don't want a customer or client to read carefully, you'll fill it with speed bumps.

    Or you might be an academic who only wants to be read by students and other academics and who enjoys making readers work hard. Then verbosity might be your friend.

    And a lot of writers just use big words and unneeded phrases to sound smart.

    But if you want to write clearly, to be read, to communicate, it's better to keep your English clear and concise.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails speed bump.jpeg  
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 30-May-2016 at 14:15.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #3

    Re: "In order to" usage

    That was the best answer I ever received. Thanks a lot!

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    #4

    Re: "In order to" usage

    It's fine to use they to mean one person of unknown gender unless your editor says otherwise.
    I am not a teacher.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: "In order to" usage

    I haven't seen the singular "they" in any American grammar book. Maybe it's okay in British English. There's a Cambridge grammar book I've been meaning to track down.

    But whether it's standard or not, it's certainly natural conversational English and an attractive shortcut. So, FBS, it's your choice.

    (And GS and I will continue to correct each other, which I hope will entertain students as much as it entertains us!)
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 30-May-2016 at 14:25.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: "In order to" usage

    Maybe it's simply alright in English, even though some people don't like it. Do you need to see something in an American grammar book before you'll use it?

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: "In order to" usage

    Great question! As I've said before, learning to speak a language is like learning to play jazz. First you learn the rules cold. Then you break them.

    There was a very reasonable post recently from someone who sees and hears "He don't . . ." and "She don't . . . ." all the time and asked whether it's okay to use them. We said that it's common, it's done everywhere, it's conversational, and it's understandable.

    We also said don't do it! Learn standard English first - THEN mess around with it.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #8

    Re: "In order to" usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Maybe it's okay in British English.
    It generally is- we tend to be more relaxed about singular/plural issues than many American speakers. However, in this context, some people in academia prefer he or she. I remember that I was criticised for using the singular they in a dissertation, but that was the only occasion I can remember when this happened.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 31-May-2016 at 18:00. Reason: Fuxed typo

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