I'm working on preparing some text for translation into Spanish and have come across this construction, which sounds perfectly fine to me, but I've been unable to find any definition or description for it in the OED. One of the sentences in question is the following:

In performing a book-to-tax reconciliation, you must identify those items of income and deduction which differ from book to tax.

I'm trying to figure out what the appropriate meaning of in would be here (my intuition says that it's roughly synonymous with when or while.) It is covered in Wiktionary (under "used to indicate limit, qualification, condition, or circumstance") but in their examples in seems to carry more of a sense of by, and I don't think that sense applies to the above.

Does anyone know what this is called and have a source where it's precisely defined?

  • 3
    That’s a gerund, not a participle, in English. In Spanish, you need an infinitive.
    – tchrist
    Dec 31, 2014 at 19:35
  • 1
    *In performing a root canal, the dentist must drill the tooth. Possible range of meanings: While performing, in the process of performing, in order to perform. The prepositional phrase identifies a general activity, and the rest of the sentence identifies mandatory or necessary elements within the scope of that activity.
    – ScotM
    Dec 31, 2014 at 20:05
  • "Mientras preparando" gives the literal while, but the infinitive "para preparar" conveys "in order to do x". I don't know if they would use the infinitive "en preparar", although I do know they would say "Prohibido Fumar" whereas in English we would say No Smoking. Jan 2, 2015 at 2:13
  • "In performing ..." is simply a prepositional phrase which modifies "must", specifying the conditions where "must" applies.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 27, 2016 at 3:37
  • In performing ... means 'when one performs ...', so cuando se performa ..., mutatis mutandis, would probably do OK. If there is an equivalent participial construction in Spanish, it might use en, but I don't really know. Apr 13, 2019 at 20:29

2 Answers 2


Google Translate gives "en la realización de..." for "in perfoming". Would that suffice for your purposes? If so, "in performing" is ok as-is.


The use of either 'when' or 'while' seems, equally, adequate, i.e., translated into 'at or during the time that...'. IMO 'In' seems impersonal: almost third person. It would then read: 'In performing...'one' must...' However, the same could be said for when and while.

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