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What's the difference between "in doing so" and "in so doing"? I believe they're interchangable -- but "in so doing" feels almost archaic to me.

Which one is most acceptable? Is there a difference?

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    They're both fixed phrases. The one with so before during is more complex syntactically, and therefore more formal. Nobody talks like this; this is very old-fashioned written legal language. There are no meaning differences between them; which one to write (if either) depends on how formal the author wishes to appear. In doing so is Solicitor grade, but in so doing is Barrister. – John Lawler Dec 4 '16 at 15:40
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'In doing so', makes the verb (doing) the focus of the phrase. 'In so doing', is slightly reflexive, returning the emphasis back to what is being done. It is a finely nuanced distinction and the degree of formality in the latter phrase lends it to a negative connotation. "And in so doing the defendant caused....". Whereas the former phrase 'In doing so' is easier to link with a more positive action.

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John Lawler wrote in a comment just above:

They're both fixed phrases. The one with so before doing is more complex syntactically, and therefore more formal. Nobody talks like this; this is very old-fashioned written legal language. There are no meaning differences between them; which one to write (if either) depends on how formal the author wishes to appear. In doing so is Solicitor grade, but in so doing is Barrister.

  • To preserve the comment that helped me, I am posting it as CW answer. – NVZ Feb 27 '17 at 12:47
  • And in so doing, cause me to feel even more a walking anachronism. So be it. Perhaps some would find commiseration in this. (I am, apparently, descendant from a line of mediocre bureaucrats posted to linguistic backwaters in the Commonwealth going back to the early 1800s.) – Phil Sweet Apr 17 '17 at 19:21

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