Is it correct to use "that+subjunctive" after the phrase "in order"?

For example: Nutritionist recommend that people at risk for anemia consume iron supplements in order that blood counts remain stable.

  • 3
    Are you sure you are using the subjunctive mood after "in order"? – kiamlaluno Mar 13 '11 at 10:35
  • I think this is fine, but awkward sounding. I would rewrite as per @nico below. – Marcin Mar 13 '11 at 13:12
  • Wow, that's not awkward at all. That's how I've always spoke – user3217 Apr 24 '11 at 23:43
  • Most of the responses posted as answers are of the form, “I would rewrite it like this...” Responses of that sort can often be helpful, but they do not represent answers to the specific (yes-or-no) question that was asked. – Louis Deaett Jul 31 '17 at 16:16

I would just get rid of "in order" (see this question for instance) and say:

Nutritionists recommend that people at risk for anemia consume iron supplements for their blood counts to remain stable.


Nutritionists recommend that people at risk for anemia consume iron supplements so that their blood counts remain stable.

Anyway, I never heard "in order that" only "in order to". However, I am not a native speaker so I may be wrong on that.


I would re-write the sentence as "nutritionist recommend that people at risk for anemia consume iron supplements in order that blood counts might remain stable."
In the sentence, in order that means "with the intention; so that."

The present of the subjunctive mood is used to express commands or requests; the past of the subjunctive mood is used to express what is imagined or wished or possible.

The NOAD has the following notes about the usage of the subjunctive in English:

The subjunctive is used to express situations that are hypothetical or not yet realized and is typically used for what is imagined, hoped for, demanded, or expected. In English, the subjunctive mood is fairly uncommon (especially in comparison with other languages, such as Spanish), mainly because most of the functions of the subjunctive are covered by modal verbs such as might, could, and should. In fact, in English, the subjunctive is often indistinguishable from the ordinary indicative mood since its form in most contexts is identical. It is distinctive only in the third person singular, where the normal indicative -s ending is absent (he face rather than he faces), and in the verb to be (I were rather than I was, and they be rather than they are).


I think it would be more natural English to say "in order for their blood counts to remain stable", or better in this case, just "in order to stabalise their blood counts".

People do use "in order that..." with an infinitive/modal in English, but it feels a bit like a translationism.


Yes, it is correct. Examples of exactly this construction are provided on the Wikipedia page for the English subjunctive. Commentary that is maybe more authoritative is provided in the 2015 edition of Fowler's, which comments on the construction as follows.

Historically, “in order that” has been rather more restricted in the grammatical construction that follows than has the less formal alternative so that. Fowler, writing in 1926, regarded the use of (i) the subjunctive (in order that nothing be forgotten) as archaic ...

The guide later comments that

with electronic language data available to check our intuitions about language, the facts are: (i) that the subjunctive is increasingly used and is therefore by no means archaic

and includes three examples of exactly this construction.

In summary, Fowler originally wrote that it was correct, but archaic, whereas today it is hard to argue even that this construction is archaic.

If you want a different reference, Steven Pinker in The Sense of Style includes in his notes on the subjunctive this example: “We must cooperate in order that the system operate efficiently.”

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