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These two phrases seem to be interchangeable in most cases.

But I found one case where it seems that "in order to" works, and "for the sake of" sounds like it's not as good a choice of words.

Example:

  1. I've probably continued to sing in order to write these words.
  2. I've probably continued to sing for the sake of writing these words.

To me, in order to seems to be a better choice. For the sake of doesn't seem to be as good a choice, because it doesn't seem to be a good choice in general for things that you're going to do in the future. For the sake of seems to be more appropriate for things that already exist, not actions that are going to take place in the future. For actions that are going to take place in the future, in order to sounds sort of more appropriate.

Am I right? Is there anything to what I'm saying?

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The basic premise of your question seems to be flawed here: ‘in order to’ and ‘for the sake of’ do not mean the same thing and are not interchangeable in most cases. In some cases, sure, you can use either with more or less the same meaning; but in most cases, no. Moreover, your example makes very little sense as it is, so whether you use one or the other in it does not make much difference—it is still basically impossible to understand. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 15 '13 at 3:30

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The phrase in order to connotes enabling

I work in order to have the means of survival.

The phrasing is fairly stiff in most cases, and the same concept can usually be expressed with to

I work to have the means of survival

The phrase for the sake of indicates benefit or support

I made my comments for the sake of harmony.

My comments won't necessarily cause harmony, but should help.

There are cases where either construction might work, but there are at least subtle differences. I don't think that there is a temporal distinction.

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"For the sake" means "to earn something" which is different from the exact meaning of "in order to".

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-1 I don't understand what you mean. –  TrevorD Aug 14 '13 at 20:47

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