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It seems that those students know what to do in order to get efficient at English.

(1)...those students know [what to do in order to get efficient at English]
(i.e. 'in order to' is within the scope of 'what to do')

(2)....those students know [what to do] in order to get efficient at English.
(i.e. 'in order to' is out of the scope of 'what to do')

Somehow I know it's (1), but I cannot really explain why it's not (2).

If you were teaching in an ELS class, how would you explain why it's not (2) to your students?
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Comments  
Not sure what you mean. Is this ESL-speak?

Would the distinction be clear if you substituted "how" for "what to do in order"?:

I know what to do in order to kill a fly. I know how to kill a fly.

Are you suggesting that in case (2) the sentence is really, "I know what to do," and "in order to etc." is optional or non-essential?
how would you explain why it's not (2) to your students?
No infinitives of purpose after verbs of mental state or perception. If there's only a mental state and no true agent or action, can there be a purpose? Certain facts in the world don't (indeed, can't) have purposes.

*I know these facts in order to pass the exam.
*John understands the lesson in order to pass the exam.
*I believe this statement in order to please you.
*They saw the boy in order to help him.
*I feel tired in order to have a rest.
*We were worried in order to solve the problem.


ad infinitum.

CJ
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Hi Taka,

A small aside.

to get efficient at English This is a rather odd phrase. It sounds like one is perhaps trying to express one's meaning using as few words as possible, or even trying to speak very, very quickly .Emotion: smile

I suggest 'to become proficient in/with English'.

Clive
CalifJimNo infinitives of purpose after verbs of mental state or perception. I

*I know these facts in order to pass the exam.
Yes, I'd try to generalize it that way too. But this can work, can't it?

I should know these facts in order to pass the exam.

Clive,

Yes, that word fits much better. Thanks.
So neither (1) nor (2) would be acceptable?
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But this can work, can't it?

I should know these facts in order to pass the exam.

Yes. That works. Here the modal should implies that some action is advisable, and that action is knowing the facts. But knowing facts is not an action, so the whole structure must be anomalous. Or is it?

Not really. Here our brains automatically shift, because of the context, to thinking of the state of knowing as the action of learning. So, with these factors in mind, what the sentence is 'really' saying is:

It is advisable for me to learn these facts if I want to pass the exam.
I should learn these facts in order to pass the exam.


You might be able to find many other examples where a supposedly stative verb is actually intended as a verb of action, both with and without the complications of an accompanying modal to obfuscate the analysis. I doubt there are any statives that are entirely immune to this kind of "rough treatment"! Emotion: smile

CJ
Good. Thanks, Jim. But what about the other kinds of stative verbs, such as, say, 'have'.

We have this formula in order to solve the problem.

I think this sentence works, even without an auxiliary verb. Why do you think when it comes to stative verbs of perception it won't work?
I hear have as a stand-in for obtained or acquired.
______

My mention of verbs of mental state or perception was not thought through with any attempt at mathematical precision. Treat it as more of a suggestion for further thought on the matter. I left it to you, the reader, to determine with more accuracy (through your own research) exactly which verb characteristics were relevant to the completion of the explanation! So take my approximation regarding verb types with a grain of salt!

The general idea is a matter of semantics. It appears to me that certain states in the world cannot exist "for the purpose of ..."; these states just "are". I can't feel ill ... in order to anything. I just feel ill. The sky isn't blue ... in order to anything. It's just blue. The exact limits of which states have this property would be an excellent topic for linguistic research. I am not aware of anyone having already done the research, so we'll just have to wing it until then!

CJ
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