Clauses of purpose in Spanish (also known as final clauses) are subordinate adverbial clauses expressing the objective of a verbal action. They are a reply to the question ¿para qué? (what for? or wherefore?).
Many students mix up clauses of purpose in Spanish with causal clauses and the use of the indicative or subjunctive mode. The origin of this confusion is maybe their trouble to understand the differences between the prepositions por and para. You can read this article to understand how to form causal clauses in Spanish.
What does ‘purpose’ mean?
However, today we’re going to focus on clauses of purpose in Spanish. First of all, you need to understand the concept of ‘purpose’. It’s an objective we expect to achieve with the accomplishment of the action of the main verb. This means that the purpose clause is always subsequent to the main clause. In addition to this, the idea of expectation, shows that we are not talking about facts.
In consequence, the final clauses in Spanish are never formed using indicative. If we have the same subject for both clauses (main and subordinate), we just use infinitive. Nevertheless, we use que + subjunctive if the subjects are different.
Let’s see how we can form the these kind of constructions.
Para (que), the purpose standard linker
Using para + infinitivo or para que + subjuntivo, the speaker expresses the purpose or the objective of the main verb without adding any nuance. Remember that the use of infinitive or subjunctive depends on the same or different subjects.
For example: Estudio español para entender a los españoles y para que ellos me entiendan a mí.
More formal linkers to introduce clauses of purpose in Spanish
The Spanish language has a vast variety of linkers in order to produce a more sophisticated speech: a fin de (que), con el objeto/objetivo/fin/propósito de (que), con ánimo de (que)…
For example: En Spanishviaskype.com usamos un método comunicativo, a fin de mejorar todas las competencias lingüísticas y con ánimo de que nuestros estudiantes se diviertan al mismo tiempo.
How to express the purpose of a movement
With the use of the preposition a (que), we can show the objective of a verb of movement (ir, venir, salir…). Be careful, don’t confuse this construction and the periphrasis ir + a + infinitivo with the meaning of future plan or intention (similar to ‘to be going to’).
For example: ¿Vas al ayuntamiento a pedir información? Sí, voy a que me informen sobre los impuestos.
Expressing fear with the clauses of purpose in Spanish
We have some linkers that show the objective of the main verb but with a nuance of fear. They are equivalent to negative final clauses. Two of those linkers are no sea que and no vaya a ser que. In this case, we need to use the subjunctive all the time.
For example: Reserva algunas clases de preparación al DELE no vaya a ser que suspendas el examen (para no suspender el examen).
Well, now you have different options to choose if you need to express clauses of purpose in Spanish. And now, para tener más información sobre este tema (for further information about this topic), you can reserve lessons on www.spanishviaskype.com and you can ask your questions to us in person.