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7 Vote

I have professors that use "para que" to indicate "in order to". I understand what it means, but what I would like to know is how to properly write a grammatically correct sentence using para que. I am fairly certain that the use of the subjunctive also comes into play and that it is not used with an infinitive like "para..." any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

4 Answers

16 Vote

Excellent question.

I will try to give you a general answer.

"Para" and "para que" both mean "in order to" or "so that", but you cannot use whichever one you feel like.

When you have the same subject the entire way through the sentence, use "para". Example: I am here so that I can study (or - I am here in order to study)..."Estoy aquí para estudiar". ...She needs a towel so that she can clean the counter (or - she needs a towel in order to clean the counter) - "Ella necesita una toalla para limpiar la encimera"

However, with a change of subject you must use "para que" plus subjunctive. (The "que" introduces the change of subject). Examples: I am here so that you can talk to me - Estoy aquí para que me hablen (Uds.)... She needs to help so that he can leave - (Ella) necesita ayudar para que salga (él).

I hope this has helped!

  • Thank you very much! - luhzon89 Jan 21, 2010 flag
  • excellent answer - 00494d19 Jan 21, 2010 flag
  • Gracias - EL_MAG0 Jan 7, 2011 flag
  • Question: Why wouldn't you throw in "poder"(conjugated to noun) since you have the word "can" in the sentence? - QueenT26 Aug 15, 2011 flag
5 Vote

Luhzon, Mountaingirl's reply is very well written so I'm sure you have found it helpful. Here are a couple more details to consider. Most of the time, fortunately, the following is the case when combining verbs in one sentence:

'para' equals 'in order to'

'para que' equals 'in order that'

The examples Mountaingirl provided illustrate those uses. However there will be the rare, complicated sentence when we must use 'para que' to say 'in order to'. This would be when using the imperfect subjunctive. (I'm by no means an expert, and had to look up some references to brush up on this.) You asked for an example of using 'para que' to say 'in order to'. Here is an example:


No era necesario que Juan hiciera una campaña para que ganara la elección.

It was not required that John campaign in order to win the election.


This construction probably won't come up in daily conversation, but you are bound to come across it in written material at some point, if you haven't already. I hope that helps! smile

1 Vote

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0 Vote

How is the subjunctive used (or not used) with an imperative command? ie Close the window in order that you don't feel cold? Is the infinitive used here as well?

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