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    #1

    The Problem Is (In) Finding ....

    Hi,

    Please look at these two sentences:

    "The problem is finding the cause of the disease."

    "The problem is in finding the cause of the disease."

    Are these two sentences in any way different in the meaning, sense, or connotation and denotation that they convey?

    I would appreciate any help with this.

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    #2

    Re: The Problem Is (In) Finding ....

    Quote Originally Posted by caminostro View Post
    Hi,

    Please look at these two sentences:

    "The problem is finding the cause of the disease."

    "The problem is in finding the cause of the disease."

    Are these two sentences in any way different in the meaning, sense, or connotation and denotation that they convey?

    I would appreciate any help with this.
    I would not infer any difference/distinction between the two.

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    #3

    Re: The Problem Is (In) Finding ....

    "The problem is in finding the cause of the disease."

    What kind of structure is used in this sentence? Why is "in" used? Is it possible to use "in" or other prepositions before gerunds in such structures? Why would someone choose to use "in" in such a sentence (I mean after the verb "be") instead of leaving it out? Is it just stylistics or a general rule? Are there other cases where "in" can be used before a gerund and have the same meaning as if it is not there?

    I'm sorry for asking so many questions. But a friend asked me this and I have to answer.

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    #4

    Re: The Problem Is (In) Finding ....

    Quote Originally Posted by caminostro View Post
    Hi,

    Please look at these two sentences:

    "The problem is finding the cause of the disease."

    "The problem is in finding the cause of the disease."

    Are these two sentences in any way different in the meaning, sense, or connotation and denotation that they convey?

    I would appreciate any help with this.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Teacher Caminostro,


    You have asked an excellent question that confuses many of us

    native speakers, too.

    I cannot give you a rule, but I should like to share a few things that

    I found.

    (1) Professor George O. Curme (A Grammar of the English Language)

    writes that sometimes you have a choice. His examples:

    There is no use (in) your telling me.
    We must not be late (in) getting home.
    He spends his spare time (in) reading.

    In those sentences, "in" may or may not be used -- your choice.

    BUT it is important to point out to your students that if you decide

    to use "in," then the -ing word becomes a gerund; without "in," the

    -ing word is a participle.

    (2) Sometime back I read an interesting discussion on the Web.

    Someone wanted an analysis of "I am having difficulty washing up."

    Native speakers had two opinions:

    Some said that "washing up" is a gerund phrase acting as an object

    complement of "difficulty."

    Others felt that "washing up" was a gerund phrase acting as the

    object of a deleted (dropped) preposition. In other words: I am

    having difficulty in washing up.

    Who is correct? I do not know.

    But it is important to point out that native speakers do often

    delete the preposition in speech. Do speakers in your language

    also delete words sometimes in fast conversation?

    (3) In Professor Walter Smart's English Review Grammar, I found an

    example somewhat similar to your sentence:

    The most difficult process is making the cylinder.

    "Making the cylinder" is the subjective complement of "'process."

    That is, "process" = "making."

    There seems to be no need for an "in."

    (4) Professor Otto Jespersen in his Essentials of English Grammar

    gives these two examples:

    I take great pleasure in hearing him play.
    I lost no time in making inquiries.

    In my opinion only, many native speakers would have no

    problem in deleting the "in" in rapid conversation, especially the second sentence.

    With you, I look forward with great eagerness to reading what

    other people think about your question.


    THANK YOU

    P. S. I just remembered a famous saying in English:

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    (For example: Everyone says Mrs. Smith is an excellent teacher.

    Well, after her students take their final examinations, we shall

    see if they did well. If they did, then that's the proof that she really

    is a good teacher. Probably every language has a similar saying.)

    I think that "in" is necessary. The question is "Where is the proof?"

    It is not "What is the proof?"

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    #5

    Re: The Problem Is (In) Finding ....

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. Your reply clarifies things a lot more.

    In reply to your question, yes, in conversational Persian some words are left out including some prepositions. The tendency of the Persian speakers is to leave out more prepositions as we move forward in time, i.e. they used prepositions more often in the past. Also, there is a lot of variation between English and Persian in terms of using prepositions. In many cases, a preposition is required after a verb in Persian (or some part of the verb, since the majority of verbs in Persian consist of more than one word) while the English equivalent of the verb won't need a preposition, and this causes some problems for students.

    Thanks a lot again.

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    #6

    Re: The Problem Is (In) Finding ....

    In English we both leave prepositions out and add them unnecessarily sometimes.

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