Is it always possible to just use 'to' instead of 'in order to'?

What is actually the additional information provided by 'in order to'?

I understand in order to as meaning that the aforementioned action comes first (in order) and thus enables the subsequently mentioned action.

So we have the order: 1st action allows 2nd action.

But isn't this always the case, even when using 'to' in order to describe a following action that requires the aforementioned action?

I find it quite difficult to explain what I mean, particularly because I do not know what clauses that begin with 'in order to' are called. Cause/reason clauses, or something like that?


5 Answers 5


in order to communicates purpose or intent rather than timing. You can simply use to instead, and your sentence will be correct, but in order to makes explicit the actor's reasoning for performing the first action.


In order to, as I see it, means "as a means to do/achieve...", and it can derive some other forms like "in order that", which has to be followed by a sentence.

Mostly you can use to instead of in order to in a sentence without making any grammatical mistakes. But to doesn't necessarily convey the meaning of "with an intention" as much as in order to does.


"to" is part of the infinitive in English & does not necessarily connote purpose/intention. So:

Q: Where are you planning to go this summer?

A: I am planning to go to Rome.

  • This is a little confusing. While "to go" is the infinitive, "to Rome" is a dative noun. You may wish to expand your answer to clarify this.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 12:04

The usage affects the meaning depending on whether the clause refers to the subject or the object:

He sent the kids to his mother's house to have some peace (so that they could have some peace)
He sent the kids to his mother's house in order to have some peace (so that he could have some peace)

  • As far as I can see both your sentences mean the same. Can you edit to elaborate on why you think they are different?
    – mdewey
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 15:04

Good Question, Compare the sentences:

To win, we must work together

In Order to win, we must work together

  • Welcome to English Language Learners. In our answers here, you have to actually answer the question. Your answer here, however, sounds like the beginning of a dialogue or a prompt. Also, I don't see how it contributes anything to the question, since the OP already seems to know that "in order" is often optional, so an example of this won't reveal anything.
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 1:41

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