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I was wondering what function the phrase "in order to" has. I have thought for quite a while that it was used a a conjunction. However, I have recently seen sentences that use this phrase in other ways such as a clause or an adverb. Is "in order to" a conjunction or an adverb or some other clause or phrase?

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    What possibilities have you considered, and what in particular is confusing you or leading you to the question? We can't give a really good answer without knowing those things. If you can edit the question to add that information it will help greatly. – Matt Gutting Jul 1 '15 at 15:56
  • I may have answered to hastily @Matt-Gutting was right to ask for additional information and your subsequent edit is a good start. I think an example or two would also be helpful, so that we'd know what you mean when you say that you've seen phrase used as a clause or an adverb. – Jonathan Jul 1 '15 at 16:25
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"In order to" is a subordinating conjunction. (I.e. a clause that follows "in order to" becomes a subordinate clause, which needs a main clause to make a complete sentence.)

"In order to" generally introduces a "final clause," which is a clause that states a purpose.

The subordinate clause introduced by "in order to" is an adverbial clause, but the phrase itself is not categorized as an adverb.

A discussion of "however," a conjunction that can be an adverb, may be of interest to you. If so, take a look at this blog post.

References:

"In Order to" in English Grammar Today

"Final Clause" in Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage

  • An example of your own would be helpful :-) – Matt Gutting Jul 1 '15 at 16:27
  • I know of no other 'subordinating conjunctions' that take a bare infinitive, unless you include 'so as to' etc. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 1 '15 at 17:07

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