English Grammar: Lack / Lack of

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When do we use lack vs. lack of? I’ve noticed some of my students making a little mistake with this word, so this lesson will help you learn which one to use. It’s a very small detail, but it’s important to learn so that your English grammar is correct.

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LACK (verb): Definition & example sentences

First let’s look at the definition of the word “lack” – it refers to absence, or “being without” or “having less than what is needed.” So if you say “This food lacks salt,” it means there is no salt or not enough salt in the food.

Some students make the mistake of saying “This food lacks of salt” – that’s incorrect.

When lack is used as a VERB, we do not use “of.” We just say “lack” followed by the thing that is missing or that there isn’t enough of. Here are some more examples:

  • The project lacked funding, so it was canceled.
  • He lacks motivation to study.
  • I just started working, so I’m lacking experience.

In those sentences, lack functions as a verb.

LACK (noun): Definition & example sentences

Lack can ALSO be used as a noun! And when lack is used as a noun, then we do say “lack of” + the thing that is missing or insufficient. Look at these examples of lack being used as a noun:

  • The project was canceled due to a lack of funding.
  • His lack of motivation to study results in bad grades.
  • I was disqualified from the job based on my lack of experience.

LACK vs. LACK OF: Example sentences

When using lack as a verb, it’s followed directly by an object.

When using lack as a noun, we say lack of + the object.

  • This food lacks salt.
  • The lack of salt makes this food inedible.

Now you try it! First, use the word lack in a sentence, both as a verb and as a noun. Then try to use lack of in a sentence. Remember never to say “lacks of.”

It’s understandable that these little details of English grammar can be confusing! That’s why I created the Advanced English Grammar Course, to help make the rules of the language clear – and to help you put them into practice in your own English.

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