"play a role (in) V-ing"

The phrase "play a role" can be followed by "in V-ing" as in (1) below:

 

(1) This NPO plays a central role in proposing environmental policies.

 

My question is whether the preposition "in" can delete as in (2):

 

(2) This NPO plays a central role proposing environmental policies.

 

I got this question because I sometimes come across the phrase like "play a role V-ing" without the presposition "in."  If the preposition in this phrase can delete, I wonder whether there might be any difference between (1) and (2) in meaning.  If you notice any case in which the preposition "in" cannot delet or the presence/absence of the preposition leads to a semantic difference, I would very much appreciate that type of information.

Thank you so much! 

Original Post

Hello, Yasukotta. This is the first time I see you here so, if you are a new member as I suspect, welcome to the Grammar Exchange!

My understanding is that the preposition "in" is mandatory when the noun "role" is not modified. In that case, "play a role" could be paraphrased as "be involved," and "in" is therefore necessary to introduce the area in which the action of somebody (it could even be something) has some effect. Then, "in" would be obligatory in:

(3) What does this NPO do? Answer: This NPO plays a role in proposing environmental policies.

Now, if the noun "role" is modified, then the adjective does not only express the type of role being played but also how important that presence is (in which case the verb phrase "play a + adjective + role" acquires full semantic value and does not require a complement). Although the use of the preposition is much more usual, we might find it omitted, to the extent that the V-ing phrase may be found at the beginning (even preceded by "by" to indicate the way in which the subject assumes an important role so that its presence becomes noteworthy):

(4) (By) Proposing environmental policies, this NPO play a central (or key) role (in our community/country/etc.) => This NPO plays a central role (by) proposing environmental policies.

Hi, Gustavocontributor.  Yes, I'm new here.  Thank you so much for welcoming me to the Grammar Exchange!

 

Thank you for your replay.  I understand what you said.  I find it interesting that you can put the V-ing phrase at the beginning of the sentence as in (4) in your reply.   I wonder whether the V-ing phrase can be put in a cleft-sentence and, if that is possible, what you would do with the preposition "in." 

 

(1) It is in proposing environmental polies that this NPO plays a central role.

 

(2) It is proposing environmental polies that this NPO plays a central role in.

 

(3) It is proposing environmental polies that this NPO plays a central role. 

 

I would very much appreciate it if you could share your thoughts!

Hi, Yasukotta,

You can call me Gustavo. Our site has been recently moved to this new platform and, for some unfathomable technical reason, any spaces within our names or between our names and titles have been eliminated (I used to be "Gustavo, Contributor"). I trust this glitch can be fixed soon.

In answer to your question, which is indeed very interesting, I find sentence (2) in your second post (next time, please assign a new number to any sentences in subsequent posts to facilitate reference) ungrammatical. That preposition forms part of the complement and cannot be stranded (placed at the end). However, if the preposition formed part of a prepositional (or multi-word) verb or verb phrase, I think that final position would be not only possible but necessary:

(5) It is proposing environmental policies that this NPO devotes its time to. (I have to say that the gerund sounds strange in this case and I would very much prefer a noun: It is the proposal of environmental policies that this NPO devotes its time to.)

As regards sentence (3) in your second post, my feeling is that the cleft construction places so much emphasis on the gerund that the preposition "by" seems to be called for:

(6) It is by proposing new environmental policies that this NPO plays a central role.

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