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Prepositions mostly confuse me while writing. I stuck in the following sentence:

These difficulties can create hurdles in implementing effective business operations that ultimately result in stagnant growth.

Grammarly shows that 'in' preposition is wrong in this context. I should use 'for' instead. But then, use of 'for' changes the meaning of the sentence:

These difficulties can create hurdles for implementing effective business operations that ultimately result in stagnant growth.

Now, my questions are:

  1. Which preposition should I put in this sentence, and why?
  2. Is it okay to write the sentence without using any preposition like this:

These difficulties can create hurdles implementing effective business operations that ultimately result in stagnant growth.

Thanks for your help.

  • 4
    Let me confuse you even more: how about to? – laureapresa Jun 19 '15 at 6:23
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    @writingthesis Here in this context I don't think to is more common. I have checked the link you provided, and also analyzed few hits of hurdles to data. In first few examples the context allows to there, but it's not common here in OP's sentence. For is correct, but in is equally correct there. Grammarly, in my experience, is better than any other similar tools available, but no such software is 100% trustworthy, at least till now. And I doubt if they will ever be. – Man_From_India Jun 22 '15 at 7:41
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    I think it is "in", hurdles in implementing, why? because it is a process and difficulties occur (during) or in the time you implement it – Ahmad Jun 22 '15 at 7:46
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    My advice: treat this kind of software as a tool, like a watch, or a dictionary. It may be more useful than a dictionary because it has more features, but at the same time it can be misleading because it or any machine as of now cannot understand English the way humans do, so its knowledge about human language or English is suspected to be far less complete than yours and mine, and as the old saying goes, "Little knowledge is a dangerous thing." A healthy way to use this kind of tool, IMHO, is to have it remind us of mistakes we know, not to have it overrule us when we have no idea. – Damkerng T. Jun 22 '15 at 12:27
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    Why wouldn’t you write this in normal English instead of in bureaucratic business jargon? Try: “These troubles make it hard to do business, which hurts growth.” See how much better that is when you write it simply than with all those big, long Latinate words full of frilly modifiers that serve only to befuddle people? You could also use barriers for troubles. – tchrist Sep 9 '15 at 14:28
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+50

That's what I thought. I think 'when/while' conveys the meaning in a proper way.

These difficulties can create hurdles while implementing effective business operations that ultimately result in stagnant growth.

Note that 'when' will talk about 'at the time of' and 'while' suggests more about the current process of implementing which is going on whenever it happens.

Looking at other options, I'd also say that it depends on the context of 'when' you want to say that 'hurdles' will be created. 'when-at the time of'; 'while-during'; 'to-overall process'; 'for-when intended'. But I'll stick to using 'for/when/while'.

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If we take the preposition "for" to be used in this case as meaning "as regards/concerning", then we can be assured our sentence makes sense.

These difficulties can create hurdles for (as regards/concerning) implementing effective business operations that ultimately result in stagnant growth.

"In" (prep. 3b) and "to" (prep. 7), whilst we can argue that they can also be used, (I think they can) they don't seem to be the best fit here. Sometimes it's about selecting the best option using your experience/instinct (particularly with prepositions) when more than one choice is possible.

Your sentence is incorrect with no word (preposition or otherwise) to connect "hurdles" and "implementing", since it makes it sound like it is the hurdles which are implementing effective business strategies (thus changing the meaning of your sentence and being very clunky).

Lastly, I would recommend a different solution than the ones so far presented, mainly with the aim of avoiding a difficult mental debate around which preposition to use. How about:

These difficulties can create hurdles when implementing effective business operations that ultimately result in stagnant growth.

Think of "when" as "at the time of". "While" also works in the same way.

  • What about using 'while' then? – Rucheer M Jun 22 '15 at 10:57
  • Sure. Synonymous with "at the time of". My solution of when wasn't intended to be a final definitive answer (indeed, my answer suggests there are several possibilities), but rather a way to avoid difficulties when choosing prepositions. – JMB Jun 22 '15 at 11:35
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If you mean hurdles occur during the implementation of effective business operations, you can use "when" as other said or you may say

These difficulties can create hurdles during the implementation of effective business operations that ultimately result in stagnant growth.

But if you mean they create hurdles which prevent the implementation form occurring or make the implementation process difficult, you may say

These difficulties can create hurdles in implementing effective business operations that ultimately result in stagnant growth.

"in" here means "toward reaching something" or "in order to do something"

Without a preposition it has no meaning and the relation between hurdles and implementation is absent.

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