few (determiner, adjective)

Used with plural nouns and a plural verb to mean "not many"

lkjhg811: I'd like to know if "in order to" can substitute for "to" and if the meanings would be exactly the same either way.

Pete: I don't really think so. While adding "in order to" would not really change the meaning in any way, it would not sound natural here. The original (natural) form uses the to+infinitive clause as a complement that is understood to show what the terms being defined mean. Adding "in order to" doesn't really change the meaning, but it seems to separate the given use from the term being defined.


I'd like to know the meaning of "understood" in that context.

2 Answers 2


"understood" there alludes to the typical experience of a reader who is fluent in English. Such a reader would understand the way "to mean" is being used, and be more comfortable with that form than "in order to".


The expression "in order to" can always be expressed as just "to", but because "to" has so many meanings, it's often clearer to use "in order to" rather than just "to" when that's the meaning you want.

For a somewhat contrived example:

A: I hear you used to run every morning.

B: Yes, I started to lose weight.

The second sentence is ambiguous. It could mean: "I began losing weight when I started running", or it could mean "I began running in order to lose weight". If the intended meaning is the latter, then, saying:

B: Yes, I started in order to lose weight.

removes all ambiguity.

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