0

I found a similar phrase in a title where they used "in":

Looking for Answers in Life?

Although I have read the article to figure out what in does really mean, in the end, I came up with two possibilities, either it means:

1) Looking for answers by using life as the environment to search for answers in.

or

2) Looking for answers that are related to life and about it.

Say I want to use the phrase "looking for answers" in the sense of the second example - looking for information about (life) - but for something other than life. What preposition should I use? Should I use "in"?

Here is my example (which is supposed to be a line in a poem, but it is not with the exact words):

They were looking for answers in (something somebody specializes in).

What is the right preposition to use to indicate the meaning I have stated?

  • Your sentence beginning "Here is my example" makes me think you might be confused about the distinction of formal and informal usage. Briefly, when writing poems or songs, we might say things in odd ways just because it allows things to rhyme, or fit the meter of the poem. Often we do use excessively formal constructions in poems and songs, but I think you are just asking that we adhere to grammatical rules when we suggest an answer. I'll leave it that way though. – Justin Stafford May 29 at 6:19
1

After reading Zeeshan's succinct answer below, I'm rewriting mine. (I would delete it, but I can't because it is accepted; so I'll see if I can add something.)

I'll use as an example a nutritionist (Charles) giving advice about nutrition to a couple of people (Alice and Bob). In this case, the question you describe wanting to ask might go:

They spoke to the nutritionist, looking for information regarding nutrition.

You could replace regarding with about or relating to, or pertaining to, for a few examples.

You could replace looking for with seeking, in search of, trying to find, wanting, hoping to find, or, notably, simply the word "for". Here are some correct sentences that have variations in meaning:

They approached a nutritionist to find out more about nutrition.

Alice and Bob talked to a professional, wanting to know more about nutrition.

They consulted him for wisdom pertaining to nutrition.

They met with a nutritionist for advice.

Alice and Bob had heard that Charles knew nutrition. Seeking more knowledge, they queried him about his field of expertise.

Many of these variations can be mixed and matched without a problem, but not all of them. Using answers is more restrictive. Some possibilities are:

They sought answers regarding nutrition.

They hoped to find answers to their questions relating to nutrition.

A nutritionist might not have all the answers in nutrition.

But "answers in nutrition" should be avoided in most cases. It doesn't really sound natural, usually. You could fix it up a bit by saying "answers in the field of" In my example it is fine because "having all the answers" is idiomatic. I'll give examples of using the idiom "has all the answers":

"Oh, he has all the answers," said Bob in exasperation. (sarcasm)

Don't look at me like I got all the answers! I'm as confused as you are. (the speaker is saying "don't ask me" (about a problem being discussed), I don't know!"

Mostly this idiom is used in informal speech, and often these constructions are used sarcastically.

But it might interest you that in those two examples, the phrase all the answers is essentially just a shortening of all the answers in life.

And I should mention uses like "She was looking for answers in a bottle of booze," - which basically means "She was getting drunk instead of trying to solve her problems" or "He looked for answers in his crystal ball.", which means he was literally looking into a glass sphere that a mystic might use to view things from far away. These uses cause a bit of confusion.

To sum up, I suggest that you avoid "answers in" to construct your example sentence, and when you see the phrase, try to figure out if it is proper, and if so, why.

  • Thank you so much for this detailed answer, Justin! I just have a few things to inquire about as they are a bit unclear to me. What did you mean by "the same thing" in If you instead said They were looking for answers in nutrition, many people would take it to mean the same thing? Did you mean that the "in" would be understood to mean the alternatives you have stated (i.e. regarding, involving, relating to or pertaining to)? – Tasneem ZH May 24 at 11:38
  • Also, in my sentence current structure, is it clear that "in" would mean "related to this subject (nutrition for example, or something in my case)"? Since you asserted that the context matter in what the preposition would be interpreted to. – Tasneem ZH May 24 at 11:41
  • Another thing, you explained ...answers in nutrition to mean "... inside nutrition", do you mean "about" by "inside"? – Tasneem ZH May 24 at 11:44
  • 1
    Yes, I think you are understanding everything fairly clearly. I added a couple paragraphs and rephrased some things; hopefully it works better. – Justin Stafford May 24 at 13:31
2

The prepositional phrase in life is used for Looking for Answers (not just for Answers).

Looking for Answers (to/for your questions) in Life?

The prepositions to and (rarely) for are used to refer to questions.

  • 1
    Thank you for this simple answer, Zeeshan! Do you mean by the first sentence that they are looking for answers in life, not just in anything else but "in life" specifically? – Tasneem ZH May 24 at 11:46
  • 1
    @TasneemZH Yes! ^^ – Zeeshan Ali May 25 at 9:12

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.