I spoke to him kindly____ him.

A. not to frighten

B. so as not to frighten

C. in order to not frighten

D. for not frightening

The correct answer is B, but I can't figure out why D is not correct. Can

someone help me out?

  • 3
    @SovereignSun C is acceptable to me, even though I'd prefer the commonly taught version. Furthermore, there's a difference between the two versions.
    – user3395
    May 2, 2017 at 11:29
  • 3
    C is OK, although not the most common way of phrasing it. A is not correct, because that's not how you indicate purpose in English; it needs a conjoining phrase like "so as not to" or "so that I wouldn't".
    – stangdon
    May 2, 2017 at 11:34
  • 1
    @userr2684291 Maybe is some cases they are acceptable (a matter of style I guess) but not in sentences with split infinitives, for instance: "I went for a walk in order not to do the dishes" (to not do sounds awfully incorrect) May 2, 2017 at 11:34
  • 2
    @SovereignSun The rule about split infinitive is nonsense, because you can tell a different thing by splitting infinitive. "They vote immediately to stop.."(immediately modifies vote); "They vote to immediately stop"(immediately modifies stop)
    – user178049
    May 2, 2017 at 11:41
  • 1
    I'm more curious as to why you think D is correct. In the meantime, I agree that B is the "best" answer, though I would also agree that I think C would be OK if we could mark multiple answers as correct. May 2, 2017 at 11:47

1 Answer 1


I spoke kindly for not frightening him

Reason 1:

It's ambiguous. This could either mean:

  • I spoke kindly in exchange for not frightening him


  • I spoke kindly so that I would not frighten him

Context can't help too much because of ...

Reason 2:

For usually expresses duration if the X in X for Y is a verb or phrase. So it's unexpected that you use another meaning of for (expressing purpose or intended consequence) here.

  • The answer is misleading and incorrect. May 2, 2017 at 15:19
  • Educate me. Explain.
    – LawrenceC
    May 2, 2017 at 15:19
  • 2
    While it's idiomatic to speak for a reason or for an hour, it's not correct to speak for frightening or for not frightening. The answer, as the comments above indicate, is so as not to frighten although Answer A would serve with a comma after kindly. Answer C is awkward and Answer D is plain wrong. May 2, 2017 at 15:30
  • "I received this reward for not frightening him." - an example where it is valid - but yeah, the use in my examples is clumsy and awkward at best, but it is how they would be interpreted by a listener (and hopefully not a reader). OP already knew the right answer but was asking why D was incorrect.
    – LawrenceC
    May 2, 2017 at 15:31
  • The phrase for not frightening may work after certain verbs but the verb in question is spoke, not received - and the answer is B. May 2, 2017 at 15:35

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