The opinions that he expresses are lacking in intellectual depth.
Source: Vocabulary Worksheet 9HVocabL6.doc, from Strasburg High School’s documents for English 9

Would you throw a light on the difference between “lack of” and “lack in”?

When, where, or how do you use the prepositions “of” or “in” with “lack”?

Which one would you rather use? Do you would discern a difference?

2 Answers 2


The opinions that he expresses are lacking in intellectual depth.

Lacking in your example is a ‘deverbal adjective’—a participle which has lost all sense of its verbal origin. When it takes a complement this must be expressed as a preposition phrase with in.

The verb lack takes an ordinary Direct Object. However, it is stative, like live or know, so it is not ordinarily cast in the progressive construction. If you want to use the verb you should employ the simple construction:

The opinions that he expresses lack intellectual depth.

The senses of the two expressions, adjective and verb, are slightly different. The adjective lacking implies a deficiency: his opinions have insufficient intellectual depth. The verb lack implies complete absence: his opinions have no intellectual depth.

The noun lack, derived from the verb, ordinarily expresses its object with of:

His lack of intellectual depth is depressing."

A noun derived from a transitive verb usually (but not always) expresses its object with of. But other prepositions may be employed to express nuance. For instance, lack may also take an object with in, to express the same deficiency as the deverbal adjective:

A certain lack in intellectual depth is evident in his opinions.

  • However, what about of? lack of? what is the difference between this one and those ones?
    – nima
    Oct 7, 2014 at 18:54
  • @nima_persian See my addition. Oct 7, 2014 at 19:18
  • So, eventually, lack of or lack? is there any difference between these?
    – nima
    Oct 7, 2014 at 19:49
  • @nima_persian The difference between verb and noun. Oct 7, 2014 at 19:50
  • +1 But I really think I'd write that last sentence with of. Are you saying it should only be written with in or are your saying it can be written with either?
    – Jim
    Oct 8, 2014 at 5:05

Lack(ing) without in is more absolute and direct. lacking in is a "side quality". (my two cents opinion :) http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lacking+in

  • How is “lacking in” a side quality? What is a side quality? What about “lack of” (from the question)? What are you pointing to in dictionary.com’s definition of “lack”? Oct 7, 2014 at 21:14

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