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John is learning English the traditional way.

John is learning English in the traditional way.

I would expect an "in" before a particular way: "doing something in the traditional way."

So, are both of these usages correct: "doing something in a particular way" or "doing something the particular way" (without in)

Regards,

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    Strangely enough, both "the traditional way" and "in the traditional way" work (though without the "in" sounds better), while "in a particular way" is correct while "doing something the particular way" is wrong. That is, unless you are "doing something the particular way [that someone told you]", for example.
    – myacorn
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 8:15

2 Answers 2

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Neither is incorrect, although it sounds far more idiomatic without "in", and that isn't a personal preference.

"Way", in this context, is often used interchangeably with 'style' or 'manner', both of which do require "in", for example:

  • It was done in the style of...
  • ...the manner in which it was done...

However, "way" literally means a route, or a direction, not strictly a style, and is more synonymous with 'method'.

Saying "in this way" can change the meaning - for example, if we said "walk this way", it would idiomatically mean in this direction; however, if we said "walk in this way", it would mean in this style, or manner.

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  • I believe Aerosmith would beg to differ! Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 0:09
  • @MarcInManhattan I nearly included a paragraph about the fact that my example is constantly played with for comedic effect. A recurring joke on Monthy Python was the response "If I could walk that way...". But I thought it was a bit tangental.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 10:48
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Either is fine. I don't think that anyone would object to your second sentence:

John is learning English in the traditional way.

Your first sentence omits the preposition:

John is learning English the traditional way.

I can think of two ways [in which??? :)] to justify this:

  1. The preposition has been elided and must be understood. However, it is somewhat unusual (though not entirely unheard of) to elide prepositions, so I don't favor this interpretation.

  2. Nominal phrases often function as adverbs, and we can interpret the nominal phrase "the traditional way" as functioning as an adverb.

If you want to be strictly correct and satisfy more people, then I recommend retaining the preposition. That does sound slightly more formal, though.

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