a. Tom must have done something to make you angry.

b. Tom must have done something so that you got angry.

c. Tom must have done something for you to get angry.

I think there are two possibilities here.

  1. Tom did get you angry, but it is unclear whether that was his intention.

  2. Tom intended to get you angry and did something with the intention of getting you angry. It is unclear whether he succeeded or not.

I think (b) corresponds to (1).

I think (c) corresponds to (2).

I think (a) would normally correspond to (2) as well, but the sentence is somewhat ambiguous. I am not sure all native speakers would agree on its precise meaning.

Is that correct?

Which of the sentences a-c imply intention and which are about the result of the action?

1 Answer 1


As a native speaker, I see nothing about intention in any of those sentences, and, to me, they all have the exact same meaning.

The point of all three sentences is to CONCLUDE that you became angry because of some unknown action performed by Tom. The sentences discuss a result, your anger, an actor, Tom, and the unspecified nature of the act. Whence do you deduce even an implied statement distinguishing between intended and unintended consequences of the unspecified act?

  • Thank you very much Jeff. I stand corrected, I wasn't sure at all or else I wouldn't have asked the question.
    – azz
    Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 2:27
  • @azz No need to apologize. English is a complex language. The point of my question is that English permits many ways to convey the same meaning. A difference in wording may create a difference in meaning, but not every difference does so. Teachers stress, for good reason, those cases where minor differences in wording change meaning, but that may make learners believe incorrectly that all differences in wording change meaning. Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 13:22

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