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I have a question about using "the reason that ..." and "so that ..." in the same sentence.

When you are describing someone who bought an expensive car to impress people, can you say this sentence?

The reason that he bought the car is so that he can impress others.

I'm not certain if you can use "so that ..." like this to describe a reason.

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    The example is syntactically valid, but stylistically poor. Most native speakers would say/write The reason he bought the car is to impress others if they were feeling "verbose" - otherwise just He bought the car to impress others. Jun 16, 2021 at 13:16

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Yes this sentence is fine. It would be understood and is a correct structure for this sentence and other similar ones.

Something to watch out for: In everyday informal speech, I would often hear this sentence without the "that". Either one can be added or removed without affecting the meaning. In formal use, use both.

The reason (that) he bought the car is so (that) he can impress others.

Based on the comments, it seems that some people believe this structure is clumsy to the point of being incorrect. I maintain that it is a valid sentence structure but you should be careful with it and check there isn't a more concise way to say it.

An example of a time this structure would be common to me is in positions where something you did had the opposite of the intended effect. E.g. If you went to a shop instead of going to a website in order to save money but it ended up costing you even more you might say: "The whole reason that I went to the shop was so that I didn't have to spend so much!"

In all, there are times when this is a valid sentnce structure. You are unlikely to ever be called out for using it in everyday speech but it may seem clunky or incorrect to some and so caution is advised when choosing to use it.

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  • I don't find it correct. It should be either The reason he bought the car is/was to... or He bought the car so that he can... or ...so as to.... It seems to me clumsy with both phrases. Jun 16, 2021 at 13:09
  • I disagree. With the possible exception of the including "that" twice, I have no problem with this sentence and it doesn't seem clumsy to me Jun 16, 2021 at 13:51
  • @FumbleFingers seems to agree with me! Jun 16, 2021 at 14:19
  • Adding more information based on the comments Jun 21, 2021 at 8:43

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