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Are these the same?

The image will be sheared such that the x-axis goes through (1,1).

The image will be sheared so that the x-axis goes through (1,1).

I think I have usually seen the former, I didn't even know that «so that» is allowed in English until I once saw it in a text from a (as I assume) native English speaker.

Simon

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3 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

The sentences, while very similar, do have a subtle difference of meaning.

"Such that" is a description of HOW something is to be done:

The image will be sheared such that the x-axis goes through (1,1). -> The image will be sheared in such a way that the x-axis goes through (1,1).

"So that" is a description of WHY something is to be done:

The image will be sheared so that the x-axis goes through (1,1) -> The image will be sheared in order for the x-axis to go through (1,1). (Or, more obviously: Because the x-axis needs to pass through (1,1), the image will be sheared appropriately.)

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Right. It seems that with "such that", the outcome could just be a coincidence rather than intentional. The cup was tipped such that liquid might spill. The cup was tipped so that one could drink from it. –  JCooper Mar 18 '11 at 19:33
    
Good answer hellion –  n0nChun Mar 19 '11 at 5:23
    
Thank you for the answer! –  Simon A. Eugster Mar 19 '11 at 6:46
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I would say “ The image will be sheared such that the x-axis goes through (1,1)” but, as indicated by Hellion, would keep the other construct to express some higher-level aim: “ The image will be sheared so that it is clearer”.

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Also thank you for the explanation :) –  Simon A. Eugster Mar 19 '11 at 6:46
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This distinction criterion is very simple and always works: 'such that' expresses consequence, 'so that' purpose.

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