... the neglected child might become a psychologically dependent adult continually seeking the oral stimulation denied in infancy, thereby becoming a manipulative person in fulfilling his or her needs, rather than maturing to independence... (Source)

What does "in fulfilling" mean here? I would use "for fulfilling" or "to fulfil" in the place of the marked phrase above. Do they mean the same thing if I replace them with that phrase?

  • No—for...or to... designates a goal, in... designates a state in which the becoming happens. In grieving, we come to terms with what has changed our life and how our life has changed. – Michael Login Aug 16 '19 at 14:56
  • Hmm. Can I change "in" with "by" here? – Talha Özden Aug 16 '19 at 15:02
  • No ))) "by fulfilling" would designate a means by which the becoming comes about. Mind, I'm not a native speaker, so I may be wrong ))) – Michael Login Aug 16 '19 at 15:05

The OED has the following definition of in with examples underneath:

In the process of, in the act of; in case of: often equivalent in sense to a temporal clause introduced by when, while, if, in the event of.

  • 1477 Earl Rivers (Caxton) Dictes 67 Gladdenesse, whiche encresses daily in me in lernynghe wysdom.
  • ? a 1550 Life Fisher in F.'s Wks. (E.E.T.S.) II. p. liii, I am not affraid in gevinge you this counsell to take vpon my owne soul all the damage.
  • 1591 Shakes. 1 Hen. VI, v. iii. 41 And may ye both be sodainly surpriz'd By bloudy hands, in sleeping on your beds.
  • 1596 ― Merch. V. iii. ii. 320 In paying it, it is impossible I should liue.
  • 1607 Stat. in Hist. Wakefield Gram. Sch. (1892) 58 Leaves word thereof att their howses in theire beinge abrode.
  • 1846 MCulloch Acc. Brit. Empire (1854) II. 217 In estimating the chances which any candidate has of succeeding..no one ever thinks of inquiring into the politics of the tenants.
  • 1864 Holme Lee In Silver Age (1866) 408 Kindness is not a quality that perishes in the using.

In is pretty much synonymous with in the process of in that sentence, carrying the meaning of contemporaneousness. The sentence says that when such a person is in the process of fulfilling their needs, they exhibit manipulativeness. It would be technically wrong to equate it with the statement that they use manipulativeness in order to fulfill their needs, although that can be its consequence, so most people wouldn't notice if you swapped in fulfilling with to fulfill in this case, I think.

  • Thank you. Is usage of "in" in those sentence above an old-fashioned way to use? Can we rewrite those sentences without using "in" while keeping meaning the same? – Talha Özden Aug 16 '19 at 15:35
  • @TalhaÖzden Oh, the OED's sentences are ancient, but don't worry about that; this use of in hasn't disappeared, and there are no signs of mold on it, although it doesn't come across as informal. In the process of can be used to replace in in the original. – userr2684291 Aug 16 '19 at 15:43
  • If you were to write a formal essay, would you use "in" or "in the process of" ? – Talha Özden Aug 16 '19 at 15:54
  • @TalhaÖzden In the process of is already overly verbose and maybe a little stilted in that sentence. I only used it to explain the meaning of in. Anyway, I'd use in. – userr2684291 Aug 16 '19 at 15:59

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