hampering/ hindering potential?


Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
Collocation is always very tricky. Do native speakers say "hampering or hindering its potential" in English? Do you have better suggestions?

Here's the context that I plan to use the phrase:

The development of Computer Science as an academic discipline has been very robust over the past twenty years. However, there are certain limitations in its patterns for research collaboration, which are hampering/ hindering its potential for growth in the near future.
  • Warsaw Will

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Last edited by a moderator:


    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Dear Warsaw,

    I disagree with your classification of my post. Thanks for the links, but they are not particularly useful to me, as the proportions in Ngram say nothing about how commonly the phrases in question are used. According to Ngram, only between 1000 and 2000 people in this world use "harm... potential", so based on this you can state I should go for this collocation? It's a very haphazard suggestion.

    Warsaw Will

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Hi danielxu85, I'm only new here and still "learning the ropes", and have found several questions I wouldn't have thought of as proofreading judged as such by moderators. But as the much older hand london calling has given you an answer, so will I, which is the same as his.

    I'm not quite sure why you don't find the Ngram graph useful, as it is used a lot on linguists' blogs as a quick tool for answering exactly this sort of question.

    I'm afraid you have misunderstood the figures. The figures at the bottom (for example, 2000) are for the year. The figures on the left are a bit complicated, but 'harm potential' has a figure of 0.0000001131. This means that in the Ngram collection of books digitised by Ngram (at Harvard University) out of all the two word combinations in all the books they have computerised, 'harm potential' (two words) accounts for '0.0000001131%. The most important thing is the graph itself, which gives you relative and comparative use over time.

    Incidentally, none of these verbs is used very much with potential, reduce and limit being more common. (Try adding them to the Ngram). Figures with six zeros signify combinations that are pretty rare, and 'hamper' has eight zeros!

    Another collocation tool, based on the British National Corpus, is Just the Word, but I'm afraid none of the 'h' verbs show up there (because there are absolutely none in the British National Corpus - a collection of texts of 100 million words or so): http://www.just-the-word.com/main.pl?word=potential&mode=combinations
    - scroll down to V obj *potential*

    Next stop Google Books (each page is 10 results, but there will be some false hits, like 'limit. Potential'

    reduce potential - about 60 pages of results
    limit potential - about 45 pages of results
    harm potential - about 25 pages of results
    hinder potential - about 22 pages of results
    hamper potential - about 9 pages of results

    Or you can try site searches of respected media organisations:

    New York Times - limit 61, reduce 60, harm 4. hinder 0, hamper 0
    BBC - reduce 38, limit 21, harm 2, hinder 1, hamper 0
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Do you have better suggestions?
    I like the NYT :) , but even without the information provided by Warsaw Will, I would suggest "limiting its potential." Perhaps you didn't consider that because you used "limitations" in the same sentence. I don't think I'd be proofreading, and you didn't ask for any, so in order to "sell" my suggested collocation, allow me to make a broader suggestion:

    The development of Computer Science as an academic discipline has been quite/particularly/relatively/extremely [depending on your argument] robust over the past forty (?) years. However, constraints/restrictions on research collaboration may limit its growth in the near future.
    < Previous | Next >