1. He plows the soil that he can plant his fall crops.
  2. He plows the soil so that he can plant his fall crops.

Q1. Which one is grammatically correct? (I think 2 is correct only in terms of grammar as I only learnt "so that" from grammar books)

Q2. Even if 1 is grammatically wrong, do native speakers sometimes omit "so" in informal writings or conversation? (I think they might, because I seem to have heard some sentences in which "so" is omitted)

  • 3
    Are you sure it's so they omit, rather than that? Because the latter is far more likely (if not the standard variant right now – ldoceonline.com/dictionary/so-that puts it as so (that)). – user3395 May 23 '19 at 21:58
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    @userr2684291 I already know well that "that" can be omitted but I've never heard "so" can be omitted, so I'm asking just out of curiosity whether it can be possible, and on top of that, I seem to have heard such sentences in which "so" is omitted. – GKK May 23 '19 at 22:00
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    that as opposed to so that sounds old-fashioned to me in this context, possibly archaic - like English from Shakespeare’s time. I can’t find sources to back this up so I’ll hold off on answering for now. – Mixolydian May 23 '19 at 22:02
  • Agree with @Mixolydian except I don't think you have to go back as far as Shakespeare. I can't think of any good examples where so could be omitted today. Sometimes you can just start a new clause, as in I should get there about 9 - see you then. – user96060 May 29 '19 at 0:45

"that he may" or "that he can" with the same meaning as "so that he may/can" seems significantly old-fashioned to me also, but Google ngrams shows it still in use, albeint declining, through 2000. A few examples:

  • Thus, not only that man may know the purpose of his life, but also that he may know the nature of the life through which he must... (A Map of life F. J. Sheed - 1994)
  • that he may find his own reasons to doubt Christian teachings (This Month magazine)
  • A patient is said to submit to cautery or lancet that he may obtain health. (Philosophic Classics)

Other examples were largely in quotes or translations from ancient authors, or in religious works where no doubt the language of the KJV (King James Version) was influential.

I have mostly seen this used (I don't think I have ever heard it in informal conversation) where there seemed to be an effort to assume an antique air, or a more or less intentional imitation of biblical language, particularly of the KJV.

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