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Students' vocabulary knowledge is a building process that occurs _ time as they tend to make connections with other words. Both 'by' & 'with' seem to make sense in the blank to express the meaning 'going along with the progress of time.' But which is correct?

  • Over time sounds right to my ears. – Qian Chen Apr 5 '18 at 22:56
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Even though "by" can mean "during the course of", I believe that it is used only when the time is specific. For instance you can say "I'll do the studying by night", but not just "by time". It can also mean "by the time", this again indicates some specific time frame. Whereas "with time" implies "given enough time. So I believe "with time" is the better word-choice at this scenario. There is also the possibility of writing "in time". While it also kind of expects a specific time-frame it can be more abstract than "by time". For instance "In time you will come to realize that..."

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Students' vocabulary knowledge is a building process, which occurs over/with time, as they make connections with other words.

  • Switching to a nonrestrictive clause isn't necessary at all. – KarlG Apr 5 '18 at 6:41
  • Which clause are you speaking of? We Indians (as per OP's name) tend to make overly complex sentences, which is what I simplified. – ATG Apr 5 '18 at 6:46
  • which occurs… the OP uses a restrictive relative clause, which is fine. – KarlG Apr 5 '18 at 6:50
  • Also in Indian context, we use THAT in place of which. IMHO, I felt that WHICH would be better suited. Could you reframe my sentence then? – ATG Apr 5 '18 at 6:56
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    I've edited out your second paragraph, which looked out of place as part of your answer. Please use the comment section under the question for comments relating to the question. +1 for the first part, though a link with support would strengthen your answer. – Lawrence Apr 5 '18 at 9:25
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In that particular sentence, neither "with" nor "by" will do. Instead, put to use "through" or "over."

Students' vocabulary knowledge is a building process that occurs through time as they tend to make connections with other words. / Students' vocabulary knowledge is a building process that occurs over time as they tend to make connections with other words.

Next time you are in a grammatical predicament like the above, read the sentence in question aloud and decide which option sounds the most right and fitting.

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