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Usually, in scientific literature I have found:

In order to achieve something, we did something

Is it possible to use the same construct with "so as to" ?

So as to achieve something, we did something

3 Answers 3

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This is absolutely allowable. In order to and so as to are synonymous. I agree with J.R.'s comment that So as to is less common at the beginning of a sentence, but it is definitely correct and not unheard of.

In order to break the tie, we had a bonus round.

So as to break the tie, we had a bonus round.

You can also flip the construction around with identical meaning, so it doesn't have to be at the beginning of the sentence:

We held tryouts in order to find a new member of the swim team.

We held tryouts so as to find a new member of the swim team.

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I wouldn't personally use So as to at the start of a sentence---it feels clunky and unnatural to me. In the middle of a sentence is OK.

Personally, I would use In order to if I wanted to begin a sentence:

In order to increase my potassium levels I ate eight tons of bananas.

I ate eight tons of bananas so as to increase my potassium levels.

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  • I think it's rare to find it at the beginning of a sentence, but I don't think it's prohibited. I wouldn't be surprised to find it in some legal documents.
    – J.R.
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:06
  • I agree that its not prohibited---it just doesn't flow well enough (in my opinion).
    – FakeDIY
    Mar 28, 2013 at 16:14
  • We're in agreement then :^) I don't think it flows very well either, which is why I speculated that you might find it in legal documents. After all, aren't they the same folks who begin consecutive sentences with, "Whereas..."?
    – J.R.
    Mar 28, 2013 at 18:26
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EDITED

Yes. In order to achieve something stands for as a means to (with the purpose of) achieve something. So as to means the same thing. You could omit it all together and phrase it like this:

To achieve something, we did something.

And it would have the same meaning.

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    @snailplane: That's what one Dictionary of Idioms says as well. (Perhaps this serves as an illustrative example of why answers shouldn't be accepted in the first hour of being asked.)
    – J.R.
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:03
  • Oh, you're right. I mistakenly compared in order to with as to instead of so as to. Should I delete the answer now? Mar 27, 2013 at 12:16
  • @RaduMiron You cannot delete an accepted answer. Only moderators can delete a question that is accepted, although it will still be the accepted one. If the OP doesn't see your answer anymore, maybe he would accept another answer. You should flag your answer for moderation attention, explaining that your answer is wrong, and you want to delete it, but you cannot. (That is, if you really want to delete it.)
    – apaderno
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:32
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    Hey, I've got a better idea. Let's edit the question so that my answer fits best. :P I'm just joking. Editing my answer wouldn't seem fair, but I'm sure that the OP will eventually log back in (I see he's active enough) and retract his choice. Especially if he sees all these comments. :) Mar 27, 2013 at 16:31
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    I'm with @snailplane. If you've come to realize that your answer is incorrect, it's best to edit--especially if it's the accepted answer, as you might cause confusion otherwise.
    – WendiKidd
    Mar 27, 2013 at 22:19

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