'gain popularity' vs 'gain in popularity'

Discussion in 'English Only' started by arueng, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. arueng Senior Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2010
  2. arueng Senior Member

    Small cars have gained (in) popularity as oil prices are getting higher.

    If I omit "in" in the above, do I make a change in the meaning? Thanks in advance.
  3. wonderwhy Banned

    English - NaE
    I don't know if it's because cars are inanimates and they can't gain popularity but it's just not idiomatic to drop the 'in', Arueng.

    Small cars have gained in popularity [with people] as oil prices have risen/have gone higher.
  4. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    I also feel that it is more idiomatic (and better style) to use "in". However, googling the phrase seems to indicate that it is much more common to say "gain popularity".

    Perhaps the latter is more common in the USA.
  5. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Without seeing these two in context, and recognizing that it may be possible for someone to create context where you'd prefer one over the other, I would say that they generally mean the same thing.
  6. Thank you, Copyright.

    Another famous governor is Toru Hashimoto of Osaka. He was originally a lawyer, but after appearing regularly on a TV quiz show, he gained popularity and began his career as a politician.

    In this context, do both "gained popularity" and "gained in popularity" work well?
  7. Starfrown

    Starfrown Senior Member

    Columbia, SC
    English - US
    I think so.

    "Gained popularity" is very straightforward and probably doesn't require any explanation; "popularity" is simply the direct object of the transitive verb "gained."

    "Gained in popularity" is a bit trickier to explain. Here, "gained" is intransitive and is pretty much equivalent to "make gains." This sort of phrase has to be qualified with a prepositional phrase containing "in," signifying in what area the subject is making gains.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2010
  8. mizbooty

    mizbooty Senior Member

    English - Canada
    I don't think gain popularity and gain in popularity are exactly the same. Gain popularity has been well explained.

    In my mind, gain in popularity is usually used in the context of a political race. Let's say for example, 30% of the population say they want to vote for the person in first place, and only 12% want to vote for the person in second place. At the next poll, still 30% are voting for for the first place guy, but now 2nd place has 18% of the vote - we would say the 2nd place candidate has gained in popularity.

    Now that I think about it... sounds almost the same, doesn't it?
  9. Starfrown

    Starfrown Senior Member

    Columbia, SC
    English - US
    I think that's a good point. In the context of political polling, etc., "gain in popularity" does seem more likely to me, probably because such things present "popularity" merely as a category that can be fully explained with digits.

    If I were talking about someone's popularity among his fellow students in high school, I would probably be more likely to use "gain popularity":

    "He gained popularity at school."

    In this case, it seems less a category--less something to be quantified.

    Still, as you say, they sound almost the same, and I think in many cases that they would be interchangeable. In Umeboshi's sentence in post 7, I could see it going either way, with perhaps some slight distinction similar to what I've pointed out above.
  10. setanexample New Member

    Is it not just as simple as people / living creatures gaining popularity but inanimate objects gaining in popularity? The concept of 'gain' cannot be applied to an inanimate object insofar as it is not able to appreciate that 'gain'. If any particular inanimate object were to become more popular among the living, however, it gains in popularity.

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