Prepositions in English display a powerful diversity of uses. In the previous preposition article, we talked about the proposition “to”. Here, we will look, at the preposition “with.”
The preposition “with”
The word “with” is a preposition. This means, it must be followed by a noun — or by something playing the role of a noun. This latter category includes gerunds and substantive clauses.
1) Despite an earlier attempt by Chancourois, historians of science general credit Dmitri Mendeleev with formulating the Periodic Table of the Elements.
2) The Federal Judge argued that his recent controversial ruling was consistent with what the framers of the US Constitution thought about a right to privacy.
In sentence #1, the object of “with” is a gerund phrase, and in sentence #2, the object is a substantive clause. Incidentally, both of these are exemplary of idioms involving the word “with.”
The proposition “with”, as an ordinary preposition, can carry a variety of connotations:
3) I fixed the table with hammer and nails. (indicates means)
4) I fixed the table with haste. (indicates manner)
5) I fixed the table with my friend Chris. (indicates accompaniment)
The idioms below reflect this diversity of usages.
Verbs + “with”
Some verbs require the word “with.” Here’s a list of the most common verbs that require “with”.
credit A with B
The idioms involving “agree“, “collaborate“, and “sympathize” are most like the accompaniment use of “with”, in #5 above: in all three of these, the object of “with” is a person with whom some has some kind of affiliation or affinity, or that person’s view.
6) The Human Resources Director does not agree with the CFO’s plans for redesigning the employee retirement options.
7) Brahms collaborated with the famous violinist Joseph Joachim in composing his Violin Concerto.
8) Despite a lifetime of opposition, the nun sympathized with her gravely ill opponent.
Similar to these is the idiom involving “enamored.” To be “enamored with” someone or something is to really like it: it has a connotation of something like romantic infatuation or passionate enthusiasm.
8) For many years, Yeats was enamored with Maud Gonne, who rejected Yeats’ marriage proposals on four different occasions.
9) Although Jefferson was enamored with the idea of liberty and equal rights for all, the Southern delegates to the Continental Congress were successful in demanding that phrases condemning slavery be removed from the Declaration of Independence.
The idiom involving “provide” is most like the means example, #3 above. Here, the object of the proposition “with” is a physical or metaphorical support given to someone.
10) The resupply station provided the hungry soldiers with much-needed food.
11) A young Reagan secretly provided the HUAC with damning information about his fellow actors.
12) Aquinas‘ Summa Theologica provided Dante with a vast philosophical system within which to frame his famous drama.
The idiom involving both “credit” and “comply” is somewhat analogous to the manner example, #4 above, only insofar as the object of “with” is necessarily something abstract. In the idiom “to credit A with B“, A is the person who receives the credit, and B is the quality or accomplishment attributed to the person.
13) Even his political foes credit the prime minister with exceptional integrity.
14) Although Gregor Mendel enjoyed scant scientific recognition, current biologists universally credit him with the discovery of genetics.
In the idiom to “comply with X“, the X is a law, a rule, or some other abstract authoritative principle.
15) The CEO fired the vice president for repeatedly failing to comply with company policy.
Comparisons and other relationships
Here are three idioms that, in one way or another, are used in how we would compare or relate two things.
compare A with B
contrast A with B
One of the many ways to construct a grammatically correct comparison is to use the verb “compare” with the preposition with.
16) Early in his career, Darryl Strawberry‘s swing was compared with Ted William‘s.
17) Compared with most Old World wines, California wines are simpler and more fruit dominant.
This latter form, using the participle “compared” + “with”, is common on the GMAT Sentence Correction — “Compared with A, B …” — and of course, A and B must be in parallel.
For the word “contrast”, we need to be careful. If we are actively discussing a person who is performing the contrast, then we can say this person “contrasts A with B.”
18) In the novel Pudd’nhead Wilson, Mark Twain contrasts the utter privilege enjoyed by the aristocracy in the antebellum South with arbitrary and dismal fate of slaves.
Many times, especially on GMAT Sentence Correction, the sentence forms a contrast and who is doing the contrast is not important. By idiom and unlike with “compare”, we do not use the participle form of the verb
Contrasted with A, B …
That will always be wrong. The correct idiom is “In contrast with A, B …”
19) In contrast with the single-book scriptures of each of the three great Western Religions, the Pali Canon, the standard collection of the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism, easily would fill a large bookcase, although ironically, Buddhism is much less text-based than are its Western counterparts.
The idiom involving the adjective “consistent” is similar, although discussion of consistency differs from comparisons per se. When we say A is consistent with B, we generally mean that B is some larger system or set of rules, and A is something that “fits into” this larger system.
20) In Brown vs. the Board of Education, the Supreme Court found that legally enforced segregation was not consistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteen Amendment.
21) Euclid’s fifth postulate, the notorious Parallel Postulate, is consistent with the other four postulates, although it cannot be deduced independently from them.
Know the idioms given in bold in this post. As always with idioms, read, read, read! Search for the idioms in this post in context. You understand English best when you understand it in context.
This post was written by Mike McGarry, GMAT expert at Magoosh, and originally posted here.