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People with A exhibited a significant increase in proteins A, B and C.

XYZ is an event resulting in the decrease in protein C.

A is increased in people with PQR. This increase of (in) A is particularly significant.

From 1, 2, 3 and numerous other pages on this topic I was led to understand that sentences 1 and 2 would use the preposition 'in' instead of 'of'. But in sentence 3, since the stress is more on the 'increase' and not the 'amount', would we use of or in?

When I read 'increase of A' as a single 'entity' it sounds right. But since the word 'amount' or 'level' is implied, 'in' also sounds like it fits. In fact, the more I think about it, the more confused I get. Can someone please help?

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  • Try searching for prepositions with the word increase and do a research. Did you try doing a search here on ELL? Commented May 24, 2017 at 6:49
  • I did. The links I have given are actually the first three pages in the search results. Like these pages, most ELL questions have [distinct numbers] (ell.stackexchange.com/questions/41570/…) (in which case 'in' would work) or are about [general differences] (ell.stackexchange.com/questions/98343/…) between the prepositions. I wanted to know about their use in this particular context.
    – MiaC
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 8:15

2 Answers 2

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The best I can tell you is that in is correct while of seams to be wrong.

Cambridge explains the use of "increase of" as a noun here: Nouns and prepositions from English Grammar Today

  • There has been an increase of 200,000 in the city’s population in the last ten years.
    (Of is used before numbers and quantities after increase/decrease/growth; in is used before the thing affected by the change.)
    Not: … an increase of the city’s population …

"an increase in" indicates growth of something that gets bigger in number or volume. (Longman Dictionary)

Based on what is known I can assume that a possible correct structure of the 3rd sentence using of can be the following:

  • A is increased in people with PQR. This *increase in people of A * is particularly significant.

You could restructure it and drop the of (in) A part to stay clear of unnecessary problems:

  • A is increased in people with PQR. This increase is particularly significant.
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A is increased in people with PQR. This increase in/of A is particularly significant.

You use the preposition "in" after the noun "increase" when you talk about what increases. As for the preposition "of" after this noun, you use it with a number or percentage; the amount by which something is increased. For examples:

  • This increase in production is significant.

  • This increase of 30% in production is significant.

  • An increase in the crime rate.

  • An increase of 20% in the crime rate.

  • An increase of 20 cents in the tax on fuel.

In the sentence presented by the OP, we are not referring to the amount in number or percentage by which A is increased, so we cannot use the preposition "of" after the word "increase". Instead, we should use the preposition "in".

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