Are 'To' and 'In order to' interchangeable?

They are not always interchangeable. Both are prepositions, but "in order to" always has an infinitive as its object. "To" can be followed by an infinitive or a noun.

They are not always interchangeable. "In order to", however, can be replaced by "to".

In order to become rich, you need to avoid debt and minimize costs.

To become rich, you need to avoid debt and minimize costs.

"In order to" is a compound preposition that always has an infinitive as its object (e.g., "in order to win"). "To" is also a preposition, but it can be followed by an infinitive or a noun.

We went to Peru last summer.

We went in order to Peru last summer.

When "to" is used for showing the purpose of an action and followed by an infinitive, it may be replaced by "in order to" in some situations.

You can babysit to earn some extra money.

You can babysit in order to earn some extra money.

Be aware, nevertheless, that "in order to" is more formal than "to". It's also more common in writing. We normally use "to" in everyday English and casual situations.

She went to the park to play with her friends.

She went to the park in order to play with her friends.

"In order to" can also be introduced for emphasis. "To", by contrast, typically sounds more natural and direct.

Use it in order to improve your performance.

Use it to improve your performance.

You can use "in order to" at the beginning of a sentence. In this case, use a comma after the phrase introduced by "in order to".

In order to grow as a person, adopt a healthier lifestyle and set long-term goals.

In order to grow as a person adopt a healthier lifestyle and set long-term goals.

When starting a sentence with "to", the comma can be omitted if the introductory phrase is short and clear (no more than three or four words).

To achieve it you need to overcome your doubts.

Remember, the negative of "in order to" is "in order not to". The negative of "to" is simply "not to".

He apologized in order not to worsen the situation.

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