Question 1:

2b) Bill worked hard so that he was promoted

İn this sentence, "he was promoted" is the result. İt definitely happened (no doubt)

But when it comes to this sentence:

1b) Bill worked hard so that he would be promoted.

it is an intended future purpose.

It makes me feel that, it is an intended future purpose but we are not sure if the promotion occured or not.

Am I right? or İs it certain that the promotion occured as in the sentence 2b too?

Question 2:

My confusion is about conjuction type of "so" which refers to result of main clause

Bill worked hard so he was promoted .

("Bill was promoted" is the result of "Bill worked hard")

I have usually seen this type as "so" alone in the sentence without "that"

Can I make this sentence with "so that" in the same meaning with the sentence in which "so" is used alone. (that is, the result meaning, not the future purpose meaning)?

Bill worked hard so (that) he was promoted.

İs "that" optional in result meaning of "so"?

2 Answers 2


I am happy to be proven wrong, but I do not think that the word "so that" should be used in this sentence:

Bill worked hard so that he was promoted.

My issue is that "bill worked hard" is in the past tense. The "so that" flags that he is doing so to earn some future reward, i.e. he is working hard now to get something later on. Then "he was promoted." continues in the past tense. It seems to me that the tenses clash and this robs "so that" of its future intent.

I would be happy to read any of the following:

1/ Bill worked so hard that he was promoted. (Although "so" is now an adverb rather than a conjunction.)

2/ Bill worked hard so he was promoted.

3/ Bill worked hard so that he would be promoted.

The usage of "so that" is different in the sentence:

Bill bought a car so that he was mobile.

In this case "Bill bought a car" and "he was mobile" occur at the same point in time, i.e. as soon as he bought the car he became mobile. So, in this case, "so that" is not flagging a future possibility, but an immediate one. As a consequence, or so it seems to me, the use of the past tense for both clauses does not cause the same disparity as it does in the original sentence.

  • I upvoted your answer. It has elements I should have considered myself. Jun 5, 2018 at 19:20

Your examples 1b) and 2b) might or might not be interpreted to mean the same thing. Consider similar examples:

a) Bill bought a car so that he was mobile.

b) Bill bought a car so that he would be mobile.

While the second example makes it clear that Bill's purpose was to be mobile, the first example could be interpreted as either purpose or result. It's ambiguous.

However, when you omit that the meaning becomes clear. So now acts as a conjunction. Bill's promotion is the result of his hard work.

Bill worked hard so he was promoted.

To make it clear that Bill's promotion was the result of his hard work, you need to reconstruct the sentence completely.

Bill was promoted because he worked hard.

When you use so in this context, you mean as a result

When you use so that, it might be interpreted as in order that (for this purpose) or as a result. It's not clear.


  • when I have studied on ''so that'' , I have found an other use of ''so that'' instead of purpose meaning. Explanation; “so that” is more clearly a result of the main clause, as in: • The machine broke down, so that he had to do the work by hand. as you see above ''so that '' is used as ''so '' conjunction to refer to the reason of the main clause.
    – ullas84
    Jun 5, 2018 at 20:35
  • @ullas84 Perfectly true! Jun 5, 2018 at 23:38

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