In the 'Introduction' to James Thurber's 'My Life and Hard Times,' I came across this sentence: 'He gained in depth and skill as he went along, of course.'

I don't get how 'in depth' is used here. The way I understand this is, the words 'in' and 'depth' are used separately and not as one single element. Then, shouldn't a noun/pronoun follow the verb 'gained?' For example, 'he gained nothing/something' or, 'He gained in India, nothing.' The presence of 'depth' and the absence of a noun confuses me a lot.

Or does the given sentence mean that he gained a lot and also gained skill as he went along? In that case, wouldn't it be a case of violation of the principle of parallelism? Because the verb 'gained' follows 'in depth' (an adverb, meaning thoroughly) and skill (a noun) but not a noun and noun or an adverb and adverb.


1 Answer 1


"Depth" and "skill" are both objects of the preposition "in". The statement may be expanded as "gained in depth and in skill". Here, "gained" is used intransitively, and the prepositional phrase "in depth and skill" is used as an adverb.

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