Fill this sentence in with suitable prepositions: "He is deficient . . . common sense."

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One would have to know the context in order to choose an appropriate preposition to fill in the blank. Here are some possibilities and their meanings:

in: to say someone is deficient in common sense is the best preposition to use to say that someone lacks common sense. The phrase "deficient in" equates to "lacks."

with regard to: this is a wordy way of saying he lacks common sense; it has no advantage over the simpler in.

of: this would be nonstandard usage. One would not say "deficient of," but one could say "devoid of" if "completely lacking" is the meaning intended.

by: saying he is deficient by common sense would mean that common sense reveals the person's deficiency; the context would have to clarify what specific deficiency is referred to.

according to: this would have the same meaning as by and would perhaps be more clear.

The example sentences from the Cambridge Dictionary (see link) show how to use deficient in a sentence, and you will see that they use the preposition in after the word.

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What about saying that the person is deficient without common sense?  This use of the word without would give the sentence--He is deficient without common sense--the implication that the male is somehow wanting in completeness as a person because he lacks common sense.  There are, indeed, people who could say this about others, particularly at certain job sites in which common sense plays an integral role in the decision-making process or in the operation of one's duties in a certain position.

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In American English, at least, the only preposition that would really go in this blank would be "in."  So we would say "He is deficient in common sense," which means that he does not have enough common sense.

I do not know if, in British English, you could say that someone is deficient at common sense or deficient of common sense, but neither of these would sound correct in American English.

I cannot think of any other prepositions that would even make sense in this sentence.  "In" is clearly the preposition I would use to fill in this blank.

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