See this dictionary

See the meaning number 4:

so that/in order that somebody/something would: used for saying why somebody does something.

She burned the letters so that her husband would never read them.

We can say "We packed all the books in wooden boxes so that they wouldn't get damaged."

But how about future actions? Can we say:

We're going to pack all the books in wooden boxes so that they wouldn't get damaged.

  • 3
    In your last sentence you use the future tense..."so that they won't get damaged."
    – user5267
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 4:57
  • @AbsoluteBeginner, are you native?
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 4:59
  • It is not important to know whether @AbsoluteBeginner is a native speaker. His comment is accurate. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 5:04
  • Will: 7) used for stating what is true or possible in a particular case: This jar will hold a kilo. The door won't open! oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/will_1?q=will
    – user5267
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 5:10
  • 1
    @AbsoluteBeginner, not sure, but I think they got feeling that non-natives don't have
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 6:39

1 Answer 1


I have done some research and found out that "won't " suits the sentence better. Having said that, the grammar form 'so that + infinitive ' can be used in many ways with various tenses and, with respect to the sentence in question, won't (will not) suits it well.

I was referring many dictionaries, but couldn't find a satisfactory definition, but the website speakspeak.com explains the very mentioned grammar form beautifully. I've taken the references from there and it goes as follows:

So that vs. to + infinitive: expressing purpose

We can use so that + can / could / will be able to / would have to say that one action makes another action possible:

1.I’ve bought a dictionary so that I can learn more.

2.I bought a dictionary so that I could learn more.

3.I’m going to buy a dictionary so that I can (or will be able to) learn more.

4.We arrived at the theatre early so that we would have time to eat before the show.

Look at the third example mentioned above.

We use so that + don’t have to / won’t have to / wouldn’t have to to say that one action will help us avoid having to do something else:

1.I’m going shopping this evening so that I don’t / won’t have to go tomorrow.

We use so that + won’t / wouldn’t / don’t to say that one action will prevent another thing happening.

1.I’ve brought an umbrella so that I don’t / won’t get wet.

2.I’m going to bring an umbrella so That I don’t / won’t get wet.

3.I took an umbrella so that I wouldn’t / didn't get wet.

4.I always carry an umbrella so that I don’t get wet.

Here, look at the second example mentioned.

We can see that future happening always go with "will"

And activities happened in past always go with "would".

The sentence could be modified as , "We're going to pack all the books in wooden boxes so that they won't get damaged."

Thanks. Hope it all helps.


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