Lacka-lacka-lack: Lack of vs. lack in

Posted on Tue 22 Nov 2016 @ 8.19pm UTC


In English, what is the difference between ‘lack of’ and ‘lack in’?

Many people (native and non-native English speakers alike) use lack, lack in, lack of and other ‘lack’ forms the wrong way, so let’s have the whole thing:—

Lack is both a verb and a noun, with the basic meaning of being without or not having enough of something.

Know that lack in as a noun is substandard English. Lack of is the correct noun form.

As a verb

(1) As a verb, lack, lacks, lacking and lacked are different tense forms and numbers, and mean being without or not having enough of something:—

They lack the necessary family support where they can seek assistance.

Deprived families lack knowledge and self-confidence.

A child without parents usually lacks a sense of security.

The present government lacks dynamism.

His thinking lacks creativity and isn’t geared to changes.

The leadership has lacked imagination and assertiveness.

We said that our country lacked a long-term economic vision.

As a present participle

(2) Lacking can be a present participle, meaning deficient in or being without:-

Lacking [= Being without] any respect for parents, the prince rebelled against his father.

As a reduced relative clause

(3) Lacking can be a reduced relative clause (where the relative pronoun who and the verb are missing), meaning be without or deficient in:—

Students lacking [= who are lacking: who are without] a desk dictionary can use an online dictionary.

As an adjective

(4) Lacking can be an adjective, meaning unavailable or in short supply (deficient, inadequate):—

Financial backing for the programme is still lacking. (Unavailable)

(5) Lacking in is an adjective (grammatical structure: lacking in + noun phrase), meaning missing or absent:—

It was a well-built boat but lacking (= missing) the navigation equipment.

As a noun

(6) Lack of (lack in is substandard) is a noun, meaning a shortage of or unavailability or shortfall:—

We blame the government for the severe lack of residential places.

There’s been a lack of awareness about what young people like or want.

Most landslips are caused by lack of supervision and control, not design deficiencies.


An example

Deprived families lack [verb] knowledge and self-confidence, so children from such families usually lack [verb] a sense of security.

The present government lacks [verb] dynamism and creativity and isn’t geared to changes. The leadership has been lacking [verb] imagination and assertiveness for a long time. Our country lacks [verb] a long-term socioeconomic vision is a common criticism from all quarters.

Lacking [present participle] any self-respect, some members of the younger generations are rebelling against the present state of affairs and taking to the streets. This is particularly worrisome as young people lacking [reduced relative clause] an appreciation of the realities of governance in our country believe aggressive confrontation is the way to solve problems.

Financial backing for many of our social welfare programmes is lacking [adjective] mainly because of the way our government handles its priorities. The institutional structure itself is well-intentioned and well-built, but lacking [adjective] in leadership.

Many blame the government and the politicians for the severe lack of [noun] public housing. There’s been a general lack of [noun] awareness about what people need and want. Most problems in the recent past are caused by a lack of [noun] realistic policymaking, not deficiencies in supervision or financial control.

Originally written on 3 Aug 2016 and posted first time today.

Featured image via Carol Rempto on Pinterest.


© Learn English or Starve, 22 Nov 2016. (B16306)

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