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There is not much argument about the position of with in the class of prepositions, those small words whose function it is to establish relations between objects of discourse.

semantics / case

There are four common meanings for syntactic units introduced by with: the first is the notion of accompaniment or participation: "A comes with B" = "A accompanies B".

Next there are a set of three further meanings for the with-clause designating an instrument, means, or manner. Deciding whether something represents an instrument, means, or manner argument is sometimes difficult. Instruments are probably a subset of means, while the difference between means and manner is often a question of voicing or agency.

conjunctive preposition


  • We're going with them.
  • The conductor said, "Ok, good, now this time the brass will play with us and not against us. (with v. against)
  • The old woman with the poodle over there, she said...
  • The old woman over there, yeah, the one without a poodle, she said...


  • She's been talking with her mother again.
  • They've been working with a language school.
  • She's struggling with chemo.
  • Fighting with the system might be more productive than fighting against the system.
  • You're playing with fire.

set membership

set = ensemble

  • Her? She's not with me. I don't know who she is. (-- But, she says she's your sister, Madam! (-- oh right, her.) )
  • Put it with the other bills, we'll deal with it all Monday.
  • File it with the June data.
  • I'm not with Apple; no, I work for Fedex.
  • He's still got some influence with the President, but he certainly doesn't have influence over her. (with = auprès de)

SQL syntax: with-clauses can be used to name and execute very complicated routines potentially consisting of long sets of database queries stated succinctly. Ref. http://www.orafaq.com/node/1879

instrument argument

  • She watched the boy with the telescope.

An often-cited case: it is difficult to be certain without context who has the telescope. Was she using the telescope to watch a boy who had no telescope (instrument), or was she was watching a boy who had a telescope? Changing the determiner from "the" to "her" significantly orients the reading towards an instrument argument. (through the telescope)

  • You can touch up your CV with OpenOffice, or in Word if you prefer. Some prefer LateX.

means argument

(complément de moyen)

  • The kids were covering the table with flowers.
  • Her face was covered with chocolate.

{...} in flowers
{...} in chocolate

manner argument

  • She wrote her letter with great pleasure and proofread it with care.
  • You may not understand the first time around, but with patience, you'll get the hang of it.

bound morpheme

A bound morpheme: a sequence of meaningful sounds considered to belong to a longer word. -ly is an example of a suffix. -with- can be a prefix, an infix, or a suffix.

  • within: en l'espace de, can be used temporally or spatially.
  • without: an antonym of with
  • withdraw: take out, remove (v.)
  • withhold: hold back (v.) (retenir, refuser)

Some more formal words:

  • wherewithal: capacité (financière) (les moyens)
  • forthwith: tout de suite
  • notwithstanding: nonobstant


« Old English wið "against, opposite, toward," a shortened form related to wiðer, from Proto-Germanic *withro- "against" (cf. Old Saxon withar "against," Old Norse viðr "against, with, toward, at," Middle Dutch, Dutch weder, Dutch weer "again," Gothic wiþra "against, opposite"), from PIE *wi-tero-, literally "more apart," from root *wi- "separation" (cf. Sanskrit vi, Avestan vi- "asunder," Sanskrit vitaram "further, farther," Old Church Slavonic vutoru "other, second").

Sense shifted in Middle English to denote association, combination, and union, partly by influence of Old Norse vidh, and also perhaps by Latin cum "with" (as in pugnare cum "fight with"). In this sense, it replaced Old English mid "with," which survives only as a prefix (e.g. midwife). Original sense of "against, in opposition" is retained in compounds such as withhold, withdraw, withstand.

Often treated as a conjunction by Icon jokercolor.gif ungrammatical writers Icon jokercolor.gif and used where and would be correct. »

source: online etymology [1]


  • deal with STH/SO -- traiter
  • argue with SO -- se disputer
  • reason with SO -- e.g. There's no reasoning with her: when she decides to do something, she does it.
  • agree with SO/STH -- être d'accord avec

  • talk with SO
  • work with SO / STH
  • negotiate with SO / negotiate STH

  • trouble SO with STH
  • bother SO with STH
  • annoy SO with STH

  • get with it
  • get it over with
  • over with
  • done with