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Hi, dears.
Here's an excerpt from a dictionary:
"so that
1 with the purpose that; in order that I'll wash this dress so that you can wear it.
2 with the result that He got up very late, so that he missed the bus and was late for work."
And here's a sentence:
"He noiselessly opened the door, and approaching the president so that his gun was only a short distance from his head, calmly took aim and fired."
PLEASE, tell me which of the 2 paragraphs my sentence holds true for?  Is there a deliberate purpose in it or the fact that the gun was a short dictance from the head is  simply an undeliberate result/consequence of  his approaching?
Why or why not? 
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Comments  
Well, since he was planning to assassinate the president (Lincoln?) I would say "so that" shows deliberate purpose. He didn't intend merely to approach the president, but accidentally end up pointing a gun at his head.
OK. Since you WOULD say does it exclude a possibility for it being a consequence?
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He approached the president with the deliberate intention of shooting him at close range.
Why so? Please, could you substantiate your opinion? Let me put the question in the following way. Can "so that" be replaced with "in order that" or ~"consequently", "as a result"? These   conjunctions would change all sense of the sentence in their own way. I won't believe there is not a distinct sense in this sentence. Or do you mean to say that the sentence does carry an ambiguous idea?
MichaelMI won't believe there is not a distinct sense in this sentence.
I don't understand what you're saying here. To me, there is a distinct sense in the sentence -- it seems clear to me that the assassin's intention was to deliberately approach the president in order that his gun would be close to the president's head. In my mind, that is the only interpretation that makes sense according to the actual real-life situation. Some people might consider the sentence to be ambiguous, but I don't. There is no absolute "correct answer" here -- different people can interpret things differently.

Here's one that is clearly ambiguous:
The guard had left his post at the door, so that the assassin was able to enter.
Here it could either mean that the guard deliberately left in order to allow the assassin to enter, or that the guard left for some other reason and as a result the assasin was able to enter.
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MichaelM... tell me which of the 2 paragraphs my sentence holds true for?
(... tell me which of the two definitions holds true for my sentence?)

Purpose.
He noiselessly opened the door, and approaching the president so that his gun was only a short distance from his head, calmly took aim and fired.
(... in order that his gun should be only a short distance...)

I would include "Manner" here as another interpretation of the original sentence, though the dictionary you used did not include this definition:
Manner.

... approaching the president [so that / in such a way that] his gun was ...

Modifying the original:
Result.
He noiselessly opened the door and approached the president, [so (that) / with the result that / therefore / thus] his gun was only a short distance from his head. Then he calmly took aim and fired.
(Such constructions are more clearly the result type when the "that" of "so that" is omitted.)

Of the three possibilities, the result interpretation is the most difficult to assign to the original sentence.

CJ
khoffThe guard had left his post at the door, so that the assassin was able to enter.
Does the presence or absence of the comma have any effect on your interpretation of sentences like these?

CJ
Yes, I would say that with the comma it sounds more like an unintentional result. Without the comma it would sound more purposeful. Of course, I would try to avoid any ambiguity by re-wording the sentence.
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