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I can't seem to distinguish afin que from pour que, or from afin de. When are these different conjunctions and preposition used?

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

All have roughly the same purpose, they indicate a goal/reason (pour) or a finality (afin), but they aren't grammatically equivalent. One must stick to the following constructions:

  • afin de / pour + [verb in infinitive form]

  • afin que / pour que + [clause with a conjugated verb (subjonctive)]

  • pour + [noun]

Examples:

Afin qu'il s'améliore.
Pour qu'il s'améliore.

Afin de résoudre le problème.
Pour résoudre le problème.

Pour la gloire.

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3  
By the way, “de façon à”, “de manière à”, “histoire de”, “dans le but de” work exactly like “afin de”; and “de façon (à ce) que”, “de manière (à ce) que”, “de sorte que”, “histoire que” work exactly like “afin que”. – Stéphane Gimenez Aug 22 '12 at 0:24
    
It is literally going to take years to remember all of those in a natural way. – Aerovistae Dec 1 '13 at 22:04
    
Hey Stéphane, what's the difference between "de manière que" and "de manière à ce que"? Same with "de façon à ce que." Should I make a question out of this? – Aerovistae Feb 4 at 18:06
    
@Aerovistae: It surely deserves its own question. I haven't thought about it and I don't know how to explain the difference. – Stéphane Gimenez Feb 4 at 22:38

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