Consider these examples, found online:

  • “Do you have to sweat in order to lose weight while exercising?”
  • “We have lied to ourselves and others in order to justify our actions.”
  • “Glee, at that point, was about a motley crew of quirky teenagers trying to mold together in order to win sectionals.”

In his new usage guide, The Accidents of Style, Charles Harrington Elster offers this advice:

“The next time you find yourself writing in order to… try deleting in order. It won’t affect your meaning, and you’ll be amazed how much tighter and stronger your sentence will be as a result. Indeed, you’d be hard put to find a sentence… that wouldn’t be improved by the removal of in order….”

Thus, the first sentence above is better as “Do you have to sweat to lose weight while exercising?”

Nitpickers might quibble that the U.S. Constitution was written “in Order to form a more perfect Union.” But language has changed over the centuries. Our founding fathers should be regarded as role models for political philosophy rather than grammar and usage — or capitalization.

[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]

Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant for more than 30 years. He may be best known for his headline “Speak Spanish [French, German, etc.] Like a Diplomat!” This familiar series of ads sold spectacular numbers of recorded foreign language lessons for Audio-Forum, generating revenues that total in the tens of millions of dollars. In the process, the ad achieved the status of an industry classic. Don’s work is mentioned in three major college advertising textbooks, and examples of his promotions are cited in the books Million Dollar Mailings (1992) and World's Greatest Direct Mail Sales Letters (1996). In a column in Advertising Age, his name was included in a short list of direct-marketing “superstars.” He has a parallel career as a writer on language and wordplay. His celebration of spoonerisms, Cruel and Unusual Puns (Dell, 1991), received rave reviews and quickly went into a second printing. His second book was Acronymania (Dell, 1993). Recently, Don retired from full-time copywriting in order to focus on other interests, including his passion for “recreational linguistics.” He is at work on a new book in that genre. He is a regular contributor to the magazine Word Ways and writes “The Language Perfectionist,” a weekly column on grammar and usage, for Early to Rise. Don is author of The Versatile Freelancer,an e-book from American Writers and Artists, Inc. (AWAI) that shows copywriters – and almost anyone – how to diversify their careers into consulting, training, critiquing, and speaking.