I can say, "The sky lacks clouds," but can I say, "Clouds lack from the sky?"

If the latter can be said, to me, it sounds more poetic and better than "there are no clouds in the sky."

Can one element lack from some other thing? Can the word lack replace are missing?

Clouds lack from the sky.

Clouds are missing from the sky.

  • 1
    The sky is cloudless. My keys are missing from my key ring. No lack cannot replace missing. – Lambie Oct 12 '16 at 20:50
  • 4
    Though it sounds strange to use lack this way, you can always make it passive. "Clouds are lacking from the sky" sounds fine. – cbh Oct 12 '16 at 21:06
  • it lacks something = it {does not have} something – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 12 '16 at 22:25
  • Since this is poetry, if the lack of clouds has a negative connotation, you could talk about "a lack-a-cloud sky" by playing on the older term "lackaday." merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lackaday – Mark H Oct 13 '16 at 2:21
  • @cbh: You can certainly say that, but it is definitely not passive! – psmears Oct 13 '16 at 10:27

'Lack' can be used as a verb, but "clouds lack from the sky" is incorrect; you've got the subject wrong. The correct form would be

The sky lacks clouds

Note how it's the sky that lacks clouds, the sky has a shortage of or has a deficiency of clouds rather than the other way around; this is what 'lack' as a verb means, rather than being absent.

Additionally, 'lack' can be used as a noun:

There is a lack of clouds in the sky

Other options for saying this are

The sky is cloudless

Clouds are absent from the sky

Hope this helps.

| improve this answer | |
  • In my mind, I did not get the subject wrong. I was saying that clouds are absent from the sky but I was wondering if my way was possible. – Dany Mercury Oct 12 '16 at 21:24
  • 3
    It's not possible, because that's not how the word 'lack' is used, it's used the other way around; it's the subject that lacks the thing, the subject here being the sky. Thus, you did get the subject wrong. You can check the Cambridge Dictionary entry for ´lack´ here. – matias Oct 12 '16 at 21:31
  • 1
    If we're going to rephrase to avoid "lack", the natural phrasing is simply, "There are no clouds in the sky", as the question suggests. It sounds weird when you use fancy words like "absent" for such a simple concept. – David Richerby Oct 13 '16 at 8:24
  • Because it was for a love poem. "The sun hides away and dries and clouds lack from the skies." Something like that. I do not remember exactly that I was going to write. I had to rewrite the text. You get the meaning, anyway. Thank you for trying to help me. – Dany Mercury Oct 22 '16 at 4:35

Despite what the dictionary said, I think I'd rarely (if ever) use the verb lack in this context.

The word lack is usually reserved for when there's not enough of something – like money or food. In the case of weather, we don't typically need to have a certain number of clouds in the sky, although you might say:

The desert lacks the rain needed for ferns to grow.

It's interesting how Google turned up only 10 hits for "The sky lacks clouds". Change that to "No clouds in the sky", however, and you'll get scores of hits.

Also, you definitely would not want to say "Clouds lack from the sky." Generally speaking, it's the company or individual that lacks the resource, not the other way around:

  • Our company lacks the funding to complete the project (not The funding lacks our company)
  • Students leaving college may lack the skills they need to get a high-paying job
| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Clouds do not lack the sky, but I was wondering if I could find another way to say that the sky lacks clouds. It was for a poem and I wanted the last words to be sky, but thank you for the answer. – Dany Mercury Oct 12 '16 at 21:26
  • 1
    @Dany - That's an important piece of information that probably should have been part of your question. While your question does allude to one wording being "more poetic" than the other, there's really no clue in your question that you are talking about one line of poetry, and not sentences talking about the weather or other general topics. – J.R. Oct 13 '16 at 0:55
  • 1
    I am always flabbergasted when an OP explains why they asked a question in a comment. That should be the first thing they write in their question, shouldn't it? The number of times users ask questions from tests without saying the examples come from a test, and without saying what the exact task is, Likewise, ending a sentence with sky that talks about missing clouds, is not such a difficult or off topic question in the first place, the OP's example is the "effort" and the "example". – Mari-Lou A Oct 13 '16 at 5:57
  • My question was edited. I did not ask for an edit. People edit things without any approval from the person who wrote it. My tags were edited, too. I had clearly stated that it was poetic. – Dany Mercury Oct 22 '16 at 4:31
  • @DanyM - I don't think including a poetry tag makes it clear that you are waxing poetically. Your original did mention that you thought one version sounded "more poetic" than the other, and that's been retained in the latest edit. As for the edits themselves, yes, that will happen on the Stack Exchange; it's an integral part of how things are done here. Good thing, too, because many questions need improvement! – J.R. Oct 22 '16 at 10:07

As cbh said in a comment, you can say

Clouds are lacking from the sky.

though it's not a common way of saying it.

Though this looks like a progressive form of Clouds lack from the sky, it is not. It uses the adjective lacking, meaning missing or absent.

| improve this answer | |
  • in is much more natural than from – curiousdannii Oct 13 '16 at 10:16

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.