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?
"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.
"In Order to" in English Grammar Today
"Final Clause" in Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage