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Example sentences are as follows:

  1. "In order for it to be happening it is necessary that the circumstances be right."

  2. "So that it may be happening it is necessary that the circumstances be right."

  3. "The sky has been too clear for it to be raining now."

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  • 2
    "For it to be happening" sounds like InE (Indian English). In most other places, "for it to happen" is more idiomatic - perhaps because it is the event in its entirety that is in question, not the (part-way) progression of the event (unless, of course, it is specifically the progression that is being considered).
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 7:59
  • 1
    I generally use such form when I want to convey the obvious reason for why something hasn't happened. In your examples, it is not raining because the sky is clear and it is not happening because the circumstances are not right.
    – vickyace
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 8:00
  • There are plenty of circumstances in which I might say to be (verb)ing, as an alternative to to (verb), usually for emphasis.
    – WS2
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 13:21
  • 3
    What's wrong with the simpler form "In order for it to happen ..."?
    – TrevorD
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 16:50

4 Answers 4

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So as to/ in order to — are prepositional phrases and "be _ ing" are "continuous infinitives” in bare forms without 'to'.

Continuous Infinitives are one of the four variations of infinitives. Like other forms of infinitives, they too are tenseless but can set aspectual temporal relationship with main/ preceding verb to express an action in progress. They can be used in both active and passive forms(to be being played/ to be playing). Cf.

You may be joking(∅ to).

The second example of ... it may be happening... is an instance of ' bare continuous infinitive '.

All the examples are grammatically correct but it could have been better if simple infinitives were used in the first and last examples:

  • If it is to happen...

  • ... to rain now.

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I think that "In order for it to be raining, there have to be rain clouds in the sky" is correct. "So that it may be raining it is necessary for there to be rain clouds" sounds incorrect. Even if it is "technically " correct English, it is not the way most people would express themselves. The first phrase of "so that it may be raining" is the problem.

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  • I would say "In order for it to rain, ..."
    – TrevorD
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 17:01
  • I think that Trevor is right that this is certainly the more common way of saying it as well as a less convoluted. construction than "In order for it to be raining. Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 17:05
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I've always been a strong proponent of brevity and clarity. There is no reason to use convoluted constructions if simpler ones are available, especially if you can avoid confusing readers (and yourself) by doing so. Whether the sentences you've listed are "acceptable" is more a matter of opinion. I would not consider them acceptable because they are unnecessarily verbose. Aside from that, the third sentence simply does not make sense. If the sky has been too clear for it to rain, what's the use of mentioning "be raining now"? The likely intention is to suggest that it won't rain in the next few hours or near future.

The following are my suggested alternatives:

  1. The circumstances must be right for it to happen.

  2. The sky has been too clear for it to rain.

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I think this only works if you add the qualifier "at that time". As in "In order for it to be happening at that time, the right circumstances would have been necessary"

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  • as stated with your other answers, please try to give a source for your answer. This site strives to provide objective answers. Find out about good answers in the Help Center.
    – Helmar
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 14:33
  • 1
    To maintain the proper sense of time, it would have to be "in order for it to have been happening at that time".
    – MetaEd
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 15:30

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