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A private student of mine had to complete a gap fill text, which contained the following excerpt:

Pronunciation isn't my strongest point, therefore I've decided to improve it. I've borrowed some Spanish DVDs from the library, with the purpose of listening to native speakers and trying to copy them.

The correct answers, according to Cambridge English Complete CAE, were so and intention. Although I would have written so because a comma preceded the gap, and explained this to the Italian student (who rightly huffed) I could not explain why the noun, intention, was preferred. To me with the purpose of and with the intention of are synonymous.

If the phrase had been written as follows:

I've borrowed some Spanish DVDs from the library for the purpose of listening to native speakers and trying to copy them.

Would purpose have been more appropriate here? Should there be a comma after library? I ask because in the text above there is a comma preceding with (I loathe having to explain punctuation, but seeing as it's towards exam preparation I'd like to be as thorough as possible).

P.S. The exercise was not a multiple choice one, the learner has to supply the one word answer that best fits.

EDIT There is indeed an "and" in the last sentence, which I missed when writing the excerpt. Many thanks to Edwin Ashworth and @DavidSchwartz for pointing out the (mea culpa) transcription error.

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For the purpose of and with the intention of are accepted expressions. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 1 at 9:54
    
'Therefore' would require a semicolon (at least) to precede it. 'So' requires a comma (at most). As to register – I'd use the so version in all but the most formal contexts. I'd probably recast the second sentence to use 'so' again. If pressed, I'd choose '... with the intention of listening to native speakers and trying to copy them.' '...for the purpose of' sounds rather too high-falutin. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 1 at 10:02
    
@EdwinAshworth the CAE exam tends to be more "highbrow" as candidates are often foreign students wishing to study abroad. Colleges and universities demand a certificate, proof of their level of English, so achieving grade B and above is pretty essential. If this were speech, I would wholeheartedly agree with your comments on the second sentence, but I'm really interested to know if with the purpose of is grammatically or idiomatically "wrong". –  Mari-Lou A Mar 1 at 10:26
    
"I've borrowed some Spanish DVDs from the library for the purpose of listening to native speakers trying to copy them." This sounds like you're going to get native speakers to try to copy the DVDs for your listening pleasure. –  David Schwartz Mar 1 at 10:30
    
And yet, in the grammar section of my copy it says: with the purpose of / with the intention of followed by verb + -ing; after the main clause. But gives this example of usage: "Teresa got up early with the intention of studying before going in to university" Nada on with the purpose of >:( –  Mari-Lou A Mar 1 at 10:31

3 Answers 3

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Pronunciation isn't my strongest point _ __ _ I've decided to improve it. I've borrowed some Spanish DVDs from the library, with the _ __ _ of listening to native speakers and trying to copy them.

The first gap (in my version) would require so or ,so or ;therefore . Given the comma, 'therefore' is ungrammatical as it never follows a comma.

The second gap could certainly be filled by intention. 'I've borrowed some Spanish DVDs from the library, with the intention of listening to native speakers and trying to copy them.' is a paraphrase of the more colloquial 'I've borrowed some Spanish DVDs from the library. I thought I'd listen to some native speakers and try to copy them.'

It could also be filled by purpose. However, construction-wise, 'for the purpose of' is more idiomatic than 'with the purpose of'. And semantically (and this is probably why the preferred choice of preposition is as it is), there is more of a flavour of the ultimate achievement than need be present with 'with the intention of' and certainly 'I thought I'd'. This doesn't sit too well just before 'listening to'. 'For the purpose of' would sit better with 'really getting to grips with idiomatic Spanish' (Aim, less 'ultimate achievement'-flavoured would sit happily with both 'listening' (ie the strategy employed) and proficiency (ie 'copying' – speaking like – 'the native speakers': the ultimate achievement)).

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The aim of course! I should have thought of it myself. Wonderful answer, thank you so much. –  Mari-Lou A Mar 2 at 1:03

Considering that "the learner has to supply the one word answer that best fits," the obvious answer would be
intention

because that's what goes with the given preposition with.

If the preposition provided had been for, the choice would be purpose.

The purpose/ intention of the question appears to be to test the knowledge of collocation of the prepositions.

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Longman dictionary says for/with the purpose of doing something: 1) Troops were sent solely for the purpose of assisting refugees. 2) He came here with the purpose of carrying out the attack. So it appears both prepositions are acceptable. –  Mari-Lou A Mar 1 at 12:51
    
I disagree that the answer is obvious, it's not. I'm ready to admit that intention is used more commonly but I'm not convinced purpose is incorrect. Would you agree on the punctuation used in the second (modified) sentence? –  Mari-Lou A Mar 1 at 12:58
    
@Mari-LouA Please re-read the example sentences carefully. The implications of for the purpose of and with the purpose of are distinct, which is the intention of providing those two examples. In fact, the reading should focus on came with vs. came for in the second sentence. They mean different (subtly) things. HTH. –  Kris Mar 2 at 5:46

The choice of both of these words could depend to some extent on the register in which one is speaking.

If I was just chatting over a coffee with someone, I would probably use 'so' and 'intention'.

Were I intent on making a serious point, perhaps with the library assistant concerning some tapes which they were accusing me of having borrowed for a prohibited purpose, I might use more emphatic language, in which 'therefore' and 'purpose' could well figure; though they mean almost the same thing as 'so' and 'intention'.

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I've never heard before "purpose of" as being more formal or more emphatic than "intention of". Because my punctuation is really poor, could you confirm whether I was correct in asserting "so" is preferred because there is a missing comma. Thank you. –  Mari-Lou A Mar 1 at 8:11
    
I have reflected on this again, since Kris answered, and I think he hits the nail on the head as regards 'purpose'. Note I did say 'could depend to some extent'. I don't entirely agree that you couldn't use 'purpose' following 'with', though 'for' would probably be better; 'intention' on the other hand does seem to fit. I don't think the presence or not of a comma makes any difference as to whether one uses 'so' or 'therefore'. But remember I am a native speaker and have never been 'taught' these things. –  WS2 Mar 1 at 12:52
    
Thank for answering about my punctuation query. As for which preposition is more commonly used with purpose, I would agree that "for" sounds better, as I suggested in my revised second sentence. I promised my student that I would get back to her, neither Longman dictionary nor the student coursebook exclude with the purpose / intention of construction. And I just checked my Oxford Advanced learner's Dictionary and it contains this example: What is the purpose of the meeting? –  Mari-Lou A Mar 1 at 14:27
    
@Mari-Lou A: Yes, but there's a difference between 'The meeting had the purpose of bringing parents together' and 'We bought some Spanish DVDs, with the purpose of learning the language.' In the first example, it is the meeting that is described as having a purpose; in the second, it is our purchasing the CDs. –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 1 at 23:45
    
@EdwinAshworth please write an answer. I have reopened OALD (my beloved Chambers is of no help whatsoever in this instance) and I have found a more relevant citation: "He went to her house with the sole purpose of threatening her". It is still under the meaning of (a) an intention, an aim or a function of sth; a reason for doing sth: What is the purpose of the meeting? –  Mari-Lou A Mar 2 at 0:00

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