I am confused while using the preposition "in" in the below context.

The wider provision of electricity supplies is a critical factor in reducing global poverty levels?

Why can't I say "...a critical factor to reduce global poverty levels?"

I am not sure the exact meaning of "in" in the context.

When do I use proposition "in" with "ing" form?

  • 1
    Good question (+1). I think when the action is expected to be lasting long or perhaps permanent and not for time being, 'in+ing' suits better. Said that, the wider provision of electricity supplies is a critical factor in reducing global poverty levels - it is a long term solution, a continuous solution to the problem
    – Maulik V
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 6:36
  • @MaulikV Waiting for your answer, Sir.
    – Rucheer M
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 6:40
  • Not sure about the answer. Therefore, you see that as a comment! :) @RuchirM
    – Maulik V
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 6:42
  • Here is a similar question: Verbs and Verbals -- Why can't I write "(the) expense to make (someone do something)"?. In the old question, it was about expense of, in this question, it's about factor in. Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 7:37

1 Answer 1


The noun factor means "one that does" (from Latin 'facere'). We usually employ it to designate one of several driving forces or important parts helping or hindering a process.

The process here is the reduction of global poverty levels. I am certain that you can identify some other factors that play their roles (positive or negative) along with the "wider provision of electricity supplies". Considering that they all take part, often simultaneously, to influence the process' outcome, you can think of them as actors in a play or gears in a gearbox. That's why they are factors in something.

Another way of looking at factors comes from mathematics. A factor is a prime number, often one of several that make up a given number by multiplication. For instance, number 24 is made up from 2*2*2*3. Each of those (three 2s and a 3) is a factor in 24* (because they comprise it).

You can use preposition 'in' with other gerunds like you would with nouns.

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