The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban.

I'm confused by the usage of "so that" in this sentence. "So that" usually means "in order that", but "bewitching several snowballs" is unnecessary for them to follow Quirrell around. In other words, they don't really have to bewitch snowballs in order to follow Quirrell around. Anyway, I may simply misunderstand what the whole sentence is trying to convey. Can someone help me to understand it?

--excerpted from Harry Potter.

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    It can mean "I order that" in purpose adjuncts, but here it introduces a result adjunct. "Think of "so that" as meaning "with the result that". – BillJ Oct 13 '18 at 7:01
  • Correction of typo: "In order that" – BillJ Oct 13 '18 at 7:52

It is the magic snowballs that follow Quirrell around, not the twins. They bewitched the snowball to give those snowballs the power to follow Quirrell and to bounce off his turban.

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    Oh! That 'they' refers to snowballs, not Weasleys! Thank you! – dan Oct 13 '18 at 4:25
  • May I know if it's easy for you to identify what 'they' refers to in that sentence? I have read it many times and still failed to figure that out. – dan Oct 13 '18 at 4:31
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    it is easy, the twins are unlikely to be bouncing off a turban, and don't need to be bewitched to follow, so they must be something else. I would never be confused. I fact it took me a couple of readings of your question to understand what your problem was. I would never have guessed that anyone would think that "they" could be the twins in this context. – James K Oct 13 '18 at 4:35
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    @dan Once you read they, read the sentence in reverse until you encounter a noun. The first noun you'll see is snowballs. In general (although not always), a pronoun refers to the noun closest to it. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Oct 13 '18 at 5:05
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    @dan Well, that explains it. The snowballs carom off the turban. The balls "rebound". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 13 '18 at 10:48

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