1

I've got the following sentence:

These issues have allowed for alternatives, such as Spotify and Pandora, to gain in popularity.

A friend expressed concern and believes that it would be more correct to say:

These issues have allowed for alternatives, such as Spotify and Pandora, to gain popularity.

Is there a de-facto correct usage here?

5

To my ear, "gain in popularity" means "become more popular," whereas "gain popularity" equals to saying "become popular."

  • "These issues have allowed for alternatives, such as Spotify and Pandora, to gain in popularity" means "Spotify" and "Pandora" are both popular alternatives that have become even more popular.

  • "These issues have allowed for alternatives, such as Spotify and Pandora, to gain popularity" means "Spotify" and "Pandora" were alternatives unknown to the general public that have become popular.

| improve this answer | |
  • @SeanAnderson You're welcome. As an aside, this question is not specific to "popularity." Think of "gain prestige" vs. "gain in prestige," "gain strength" vs. "gain in strength," etc. :-) – Elian May 11 '14 at 20:06
0

In most contexts there's no difference in meaning, but it's worth noting that the optional extra preposition in gain in ["abstract quality" noun] has never been the most popular form...

Also note that when it's followed by another preposition, we like it even less...


There are some contexts where including in implies that the specific abstract quality was already present, albeit to a lesser degree. This is purely my own opinion, but I think that to a considerable extent, credibility, for example, is the kind of abstract quality that something either has or doesn't have. In which case I'd interpret the construction as gain = acquire rather that gain = increase...

Although I can't claim the in version there has completely "flatlined", I probably wouldn't use it.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.