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I am working on a paper, and the following phrasing was suggested:

In the protein-protein interaction (PPI) network, nodes represent proteins and edges represent connections between them, based on experimental evidence. PPI networks are rich and complex, so that a mathematical model is sought to capture their properties and shed light on PPI evolution.

Is that a legal legitimate use of so that? How would you phrase it differently otherwise?

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4  
"Legal" is not a word I would use to describe English usage. The Grammar Police, for all their bluster, have no authority to arrest you and put you into Grammar Prison. –  Robusto Mar 23 '11 at 13:16
    
@Robusto: They may in Nazi Grammarland... –  Cerberus Sep 4 '12 at 19:24

5 Answers 5

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Yes, it is a valid use of “so that”.

so that: with the result that (it was overgrown with brambles, so that I had difficulty making any)

(New Oxford American Dictionary). Not to be confused with another use of so that, namely:

so that: with the aim that; in order that (they whisper to each other so that no one else can hear)

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I know that is the example from the dictionary but I would leave that out because it's effectively redundant. –  z7sg Ѫ Mar 23 '11 at 13:13
    
I disagree. Your first definition doesn't fit OP's context any better than the second. However I read it, OP's construction implies that the "seeking of a mathematical model" is somehow intended or caused by the fact that PPI networks are rich and complex. I think it's just poor writing. –  FumbleFingers Sep 4 '12 at 19:21
    
I disagree also. It should say "so", not "so that". The sentence sounds as though it is saying "PPI networks are rich and complex in order that a mathematical model is sought", which doesn't make sense. –  alcas Sep 5 '12 at 1:35

I think that wording was used to try and emphasize the complexity, but it does read a bit strangely.

The emphasis might have been better expressed something like the following:

... PPI networks are rich and complex, so much so, that a mathematical model is sought to capture their properties and shed light on PPI evolution.

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I think it reads odd too, but not because of so that, but because of is sought.

I would have written: ...so that a mathematical model may be sought to capture their properties and shed light on PPI evolution.

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"So that" doesn't sound right to me, it makes it sound like you're saying PPI networks are complex because a mathematical model is sought. Even if it were correct, it's needlessly verbose. A better phrasing might be:

PPI networks are rich and complex, and a mathematical model is sought to capture their properties and shed light on PPI evolution.

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I think it means that a person did something to aim at a certain point. For example:

Sam did his homework so that he could play with his friend.

If so that is replaced with "to aim at" or "in order to", it would fit well since the three words mean the same thing. For example:

Sam did his work to aim at playing with his friends.
Sam did his work in order to play with with his friends.

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but so that is different from so----that---------- –  julia k Sep 4 '12 at 19:17

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