I have a bodyguard in order to protect myself.

I was told that I cannot have a stative verb in the required condition:

I have a bodyguard

But I don't understand how "I need to study in order to pass the exam" is correct when "need" is stative.

I was also told that the subject has to do the infinitive, so the following is wrong:

in order to protect myself.

I was told the sentence should be written as:

I hired a bodyguard in order to stay protected.

Is this correct, or is there no problem with my original sentence?

My question is about in order.

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    It seems that the "myself" itself could be out of place, since the bodyguard is the one doing the protecting, not you, and therefore, protecting one's self isn't really what is happening; "I have (or preferably hire[d]) a bodyguard (in order) to protect me." You could hire a bodyguard to protect himself, it's just kind of unconventional. I guess that as long as you do have a good bodyguard, you won't get too much heckling about how you put it. :) – Kai Maxfield Feb 21 '16 at 2:59
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    @jlovegren I think what the OP was told is mostly nonsense. Do you really think "I have insurance to cover my losses" is awkward or even less preferable to "I got insurance to cover my losses"? – deadrat Feb 21 '16 at 5:38
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    @deadrat I think you may have misread the question. The OP isn't asking about the infinitive. Both of your sentences sound equally natural, but "I have insurance in order to cover my losses" sounds less natural than "I got insurance in order to cover my losses." – CDM Feb 21 '16 at 5:53
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    @ChongDogMillionaire Possibly. I interpreted the question as asking about a complement for stative verbs. It might be an infinitive of purpose ("I need to study) or a direct object ("I have a bodyguard). I don't know how you measure "sounds natural," but "I got insurance" means something slightly different from "I have insurance," but "I've got insurance" and "I have insurance" mean the same thing. – deadrat Feb 21 '16 at 6:50
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    @deadrat Also, when I see in order I think of steps of actions. One action is done in order to accomplish another action. I don't really think a nonactive step can accomplish any further action. – CDM Feb 21 '16 at 7:59

As @deadrat mentioned in the comment, what you were told is nonsense. The linked is a list of stative verbs that I found on the internet. The reason to classify those verbs as a stative verb is to emphasize the fact that those verbs are not (generally or usually) used in continuous (progressive) tenses as the link shows.

I have a bodyguard in order to protect myself.

It is not grammatically incorrect. The purpose of having a bodyguard is to protect myself. It is just not as idiomatic as "I have a bodyguard to protect myself" because using in order could be considered redundant.

Let's compare the sentence with the most well-known stative verb to be:

I am on a diet (in order) to lose weight.

If what you were told is right, you can't use the above sentence as to be is a stative verb. It is not diet which is to lose weight.

Using stative verb with to infinitive which indicates purpose is fine. But some of them may not be idiomatic. It doesn't necessarily mean you can't use to infinitive with a stative verb. You have to learn how those stative verbs are used idiomatically on a case-by-case basis.

Edit: To have is not always a stative verb. The most notable case is when it is used to mean to eat or as a causative verb, it is not a stative verb.

Let's consider the following sentences:

I have never felt any need to have a bodyguard (in order to protect myself). But sine the ISIS attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, I have just decided to hire one. Now, I have a bodyguard (following me wherever I go 24/7) in order to protect myself.

I don't think to have in the above sentence is a stative verb.

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  • Nice. Half an upvote for the quality of the answer; half an upvote for agreeing with me. – deadrat Feb 21 '16 at 6:59
  • "I must study in order to pass the test" is the same as "I must study to pass the test." In this example, the "in order" is redundant but sounds right and most (or close to most) "in order" sentences have the "must/have to/ need to... in order to" form... – lopez11 Feb 21 '16 at 9:43
  • @lopez11 What makes you think "I have a bodyguard in order to protect myself" doesn't sound right? Do you always have to use "must/have to/need to" to use "in order to"? What would happen to my second example? Should it be changed to "I must/have to/need to be on a diet in order to lose weight"? – user140086 Feb 21 '16 at 9:46
  • It sounds weird. Both "I diet in order to lose weight" and "I am dieting in order to lose weight" are fine. But "I'm in a movie theater in order to watch a movie" doesn't feel natural. I don't know, there seems to be a split in opinions here. Again the stative thing is getting to me. As stated in the comment section, I don't think being a state can lead to accomplishing another action. At least, I don't think I've ever seen stative verbs used like that. – lopez11 Feb 21 '16 at 9:56
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    @Rathony I'm pretty sure the OP used have in the stative sense (not causal). I have a blanket to warm myself can't be (idiomatically) changed to I have a blanket in order to warm myself. It's the same with I have a chair (in order) to sit on. – CDM Feb 21 '16 at 10:19

I'm not sure about whether your sentence is grammatical or not, but in order to is usually used to express a required condition or a purpose. You cannot fulfill a required condition by being a state. You also cannot have a purpose behind being a state.

I think your confusion has something to do with the belief that the to in an infinitive can be replaced with in order to or so as to. Sometimes the to-infinitive is used to denote the function of the object but not the purpose of doing the verb.

I have a bodyguard to protect me.

In this sentence, the to-infinitive is used to denote the function of the bodyguard. It, however, does not denote the purpose of doing have or what doing have is required for. In fact, it is impossible to do have because it is a stative verb (in this context). So, you shouldn't replace the to with in order to.

As you correctly state, in I need to study in order to pass the exam, need is a stative verb. In this context, it expresses an obligation to do the to-infinitive. In order to is commonly used with such verbs (must, have, need) to emphasize that doing a verb is necessary for accomplishing something else. The meaning of your example sentence is clear: studying is necessary to fulfill the purpose of passing the exam.

You cannot fulfill anything (a purpose or a required condition) by doing a stative verb because you cannot do a stative verb.

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  • What is the definition of a modal verb? – user140086 Feb 21 '16 at 6:01
  • What is the definition of an auxiliary verb? – user140086 Feb 21 '16 at 6:05

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