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⚠️ Use WITH Caution Or Not At All ðŸ“ðŸ“œ


SoundEagle in Use WITH Caution Or Not At All

No, Thank You

If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?

As a preposition, with is supposed to be a simple, “innocent” word functioning in similar ways to those of other prepositions such as ‘in’, ‘at’, ‘over’, ‘under’, ‘toward’ and ‘before’:

Having purchased a pizza with his own money, Charlie Brown departed with Snoopy who picked a fight with Woodstock earlier.

The first with signifies “as an instrument; by means of”; the second denotes “in the company of; alongside; along side of; close to; near to”; and the third means “against”. Those who require more examples may consult the Cambridge Dictionary or the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

This particular W word, like many other much-abused four-letter words, has been strained, stretched and wrangled excessively in its usage. Anyone contemplating starting a sentence with the W word is staring down the barrel of an unruly gun prone to firing ungrammatical projectiles. For those who wish to be clear, logical and expressive, it is a word fraught with danger, especially to the unwary.

Far exceeding the appalling state of the misuse and abuse of even such a word as “like”, the word with has become the most overused, overworked and overburdened word in the English language in so many problematic ways as to render the resulting expression and structure of a sentence clumsy, insipid, inferior or platitudinous.

The following examples demonstrate the various types of error in contemporary usage of with. Corresponding corrections are provided as brown texts framed by light blue borders.

1 To begin with, with is often misused with the present participle to express causal connection or temporal relationship:

With Charlie Brown’s watch showing five o’clock, Snoopy signals Woodstock to leave.

Now that Charlie Brown’s watch is showing five o’clock, Snoopy signals Woodstock to leave.

With the rain barely stopping after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.

The rain barely stopping after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.
Barely has the rain stopped after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.
2 On numerous occasions, with has been clumsily conscripted alongside the present participle to explain or elaborate what has already been stated:

Charlie Brown’s watch is showing five o’clock, with even Snoopy signalling Woodstock to leave.

Charlie Brown’s watch is showing five o’clock, even Snoopy signalling Woodstock to leave.
Since Charlie Brown’s watch is showing five o’clock, even Snoopy is signalling Woodstock to leave.
In view of the fact that it (or the time) is five o’clock by (or according to) Charlie Brown’s watch, even Snoopy is signalling Woodstock to leave.
Now (or Given or Considering) that the time on Charlie Brown’s watch is five o’clock, even Snoopy is signalling Woodstock to leave.

The rain barely stops after a heavy pour, with Woodstock flying impatiently out of the window.

The rain barely stops after a heavy pour, Woodstock flying impatiently out of the window.
The rain barely stops after a heavy pour, and Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.

Charlie Brown claimed that he had urged Snoopy and Woodstock to seek a much overdue medical examination with the vet being asked to report the results to him as soon as possible.

Charlie Brown claimed that he had urged Snoopy and Woodstock to seek a much overdue medical examination and asked the vet to report the results to him as soon as possible.
3 Exceeding the scope of a simple preposition, with is frequently conflated with the past participle to explain or elaborate what has already been stated:

With Charlie Brown’s watch shown to be passing five o’clock, Snoopy is signalling Woodstock to leave.

In view of the time on Charlie Brown’s watch (being shown to be) passing five o’clock, Snoopy is signalling Woodstock to leave.
Now (or Given or Considering) that the time on Charlie Brown’s watch is (or has) past five o’clock, Snoopy is signalling Woodstock to leave.

With the rain barely stopped after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.

Though the rain barely stops after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.
Though the rain has barely stopped after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.
The rain barely stopping after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.
4 Even in the absence of the present or past participle, with has been tenaciously forced into hard labour, thus usurping more natural and exact constructions:

With scarcely enough time to continue, both Charlie Brown and Snoopy signal Woodstock to leave.

When there is scarcely enough time to continue, both Charlie Brown and Snoopy signal Woodstock to leave.

With the cessation of rain after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.

Upon (or Following) the cessation of rain after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.

With Charlie Brown now as angry and exasperated as a cornered animal injured in a wild fight, both Snoopy and Woodstock wisely avoid him and hide in the nearby bush until he regains his cool and calm bearing.

Since (or Seeing that or Considering that) Charlie Brown is now as angry and exasperated as a cornered animal injured in a wild fight, both Snoopy and Woodstock wisely avoid him and hide in the nearby bush until he regains his cool and calm bearing.
5 In some cases, the misuse of with is even duplicated to a stultifying or vitiating degree, rendering the sentence stilted and the expression awkward:

With both Woodstock and Snoopy having finally entered the house, with its being much warmer and dryer, Charlie Brown promptly closes the door and shuts the windows to keep out the cold and the rain.

Since both Woodstock and Snoopy have finally entered the house, where it is much warmer and dryer, Charlie Brown promptly closes the door and shuts the windows to keep out the cold and the rain.

Charlie Brown is an excellent observer of butterflies, and with a particular liking for blue ones. If he were to be deprived of this favourite pastime, he would feel unsatisfied and depressed with negative reactions for a day or two with Snoopy and Woodstock.

Charlie Brown is an excellent observer of butterflies, and has a particular liking for blue ones. If he were to be deprived of this favourite pastime, he would not only feel unsatisfied and depressed but also have negative reactions towards Snoopy and Woodstock for a day or two.

With the sun casting a much longer shadow and the time approaching four o’clock, everyone is anticipating the drama to unfold. With Charlie Brown there is generally more tolerance towards Woodstock than Snoopy, and as usual with his young and hot-blooded late-afternoon sultry mood, Charlie bears down on the sneaky Snoopy like a mad animal, apart from with the obvious far distance that Snoopy manages to place between them, or with Woodstock managing to get them to compromise with the matter in dispute. Starting with a reconciliatory gesture the next day, Charlie summons Snoopy to give him a big hug and starts to take Snoopy with Woodstock along for a stroll down the country garden with the village creek nearby.

As the sun casts a much longer shadow and the time approaches four o’clock, everyone is anticipating the drama to unfold. Charlie Brown generally shows more tolerance towards Woodstock than (he does towards) Snoopy. Being young and hot-blooded in his usual late-afternoon sultry mood, Charlie bears down on the sneaky Snoopy like a mad animal, unless (or except when) Snoopy has already managed to place a good distance between them, or Woodstock has got them to compromise on the matter in dispute. Using a reconciliatory gesture the next day, Charlie summons Snoopy to give him a big hug and starts to take both Snoopy and Woodstock along for a stroll down the country garden near the village creek.

All of the examples have been created by SoundEagle🦅 to feature the inept usage of with in contemporary English. Those who mistakenly deem or feel that some or all of SoundEagle🦅’s examples strain (unnecessarily or dubiously) for an alternative to the overused preposition are encouraged to rethink their views, considering that the maladroit handling of with has become so ubiquitous and normalized that many people are not even aware that the seemingly decent and much-adopted usage of the preposition in a wide range of verbal expressions and linguistic situations is not only awkward, problematic and unwarranted but also symptomatic of a long-term decline in the standard of grammar and vocabulary. On the odd chance that such people encounter the correct usage of with, or better still, some alternative to with, they tend to find it to be strange, unnatural, inapposite or even wrong.

Conclusions

Beware of misusing or overusing with. “Bad” English is not necessary or always one where the usage is different, informal or colloquial; it is, and can be, anything that reduces the quality, comprehensibility, clarity, logic and/or expressive strength of a manuscript.

Proper or Preferable
Improper or Less Preferable
Since (or As or Now that) the living standard of those people has been improved significantly by the advent of electricity, they begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments.

Those people begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments since their living standard has been improved significantly by the advent of electricity.

The living standard of those people has been improved significantly by the advent of electricity. As a result, they begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments.

With the living standard of those people being improved significantly by the advent of electricity, they begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments.

With significant improvement in the living standard of those people since the advent of electricity, they begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments.

Those people begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments, with their living standard being improved significantly by the advent of electricity.

Those people begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments, (with) their living standard having been improved significantly by the advent of electricity.

Since reading outside the house is no more difficult than it is inside, and since she enjoys Nature, she is increasingly fond of reading aloud in the courtyard. She has a particular liking for the works of Shakespeare. As usual she strolls to the courtyard this morning. Already waiting at a secluded spot, her brother feigns not to pay any attention to her wont but intends to annoy her in one or more clever ways, for he derives his satisfaction from playing an ingenious prank. He will only be satisfied when an impish, roguish act is done. Having successfully accomplished yet another “mission” at his sister’s expense, he promptly retreats indoors to relive and savour the moments that he had just experienced outdoors, moments freshly engineered for his own amusement. Increasingly confident, he resolves to realise such a plan at least twice a week, should this be within his power.

zero occurrence of “with” and 150 words in total
Use WITH Caution Or Not At All
With reading outside the house being no more difficult than inside, she is increasingly fond of reading aloud in the courtyard with a particular liking for the works of Shakespeare. As usual with her, she strolls to the courtyard this morning. As with her brother who is already waiting at a secluded spot, he pays no attention to her wont, but with an intention to annoy her with one or more devious ways. Satisfaction to him will only be achieved with an ingenious prank. He will only be satisfied with committing an impish, devilish act. With yet another “mission” being completed successfully at his sister’s expense, he promptly retreats indoors with the sole purpose of reliving and enjoying in his mind the favourite times of what happens outside earlier, which he has recently engineered for his own amusement. With his confidence increasing, he resolves himself to make this happen with a frequency of at least twice a week, by hook or by crook.

12 occurrences of “with” and 163 words in total
Submitted as a response to Daily Prompt: No, Thank You.

50 comments on “⚠️ Use WITH Caution Or Not At All ðŸ“ðŸ“œ

  1. Reblogged this on Northern California Freelance Writers and Bloggers Group and commented:
    If I could ban a word from permanent usage forever it would be the word “cunt” (sorry, you asked). Cunt is a repulsive, disgusting word.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The one that drives me absolutely insane is “ya know?” Over and over again. Some people cannot speak a single sentence without the phrase. Ya know

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I HATE when people respond to “Hoe are you?” WITH the word good instead of well. Good refers to morality; well refers to health.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Let’s wish that those who respond to “How are you?” with “I’m good.” have not been so devastatingly ignorant or diabolically innocent as to be so bold as to imply or implicate that our grammatically supple and logically sound response with “I’m fine.” is ridiculously bad or hopelessly outmoded in comparison! Perhaps some of those people are wallowing in the modernist legacy of seeing things in strict duality (such as good versus bad, and black versus white) in their usual utterance such as “I’m good.” and “You did good/bad.”, even as we concede that adverbs have been left out of their vocabulary, both linguistically and ‘morally’.

      In any case, SoundEagle hopes that the SoundEagle’s Writing Guidelines has been of good use to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read your grammer rant with a wide grin on my face. Well said! I just skimmed your guidelines but after realizing the perils of the word WITH, I think I will STUDY them

        Liked by 1 person

      • Your STUDYing them will definitely be both an honour and a pleasure to SoundEagle. Thank you in anticipation for your patronage and feedback, Melanie.

        Like

      • Is it not somewhat ironic or farcical that SoundEagle has had to be so devastatingly (if not needlessly) adept at creating examples of ‘bad’ English usage, which is severely threatening and overwhelming what is left of the good in the media and even the academia?

        Like

      • Rather than throw your hands up in defeat you are “fighting the good fight”.

        African Proverb:
        “If you think that you are too small to make a difference, you have not spent the night with a mosquito.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • SoundEagle declares herewith that in the long run, hopefully, we won’t have to withhold or withdraw from our forthright grammatical stance, let alone throwing our hands (or wings) up in defeat and crying “If we can’t beat them then join them!”, as we continue to withstand the everyday onslaughts of “withaddicts” and “withmongers” without fearing utter defeat and constant setback caused by irreversible linguistic contamination, semantic degeneration or syntactical conversion.

        Thank you, Melanie, for quoting the African proverb here. Some authorities contend that mosquitos are the most dangerous animals on Earth, as they have been responsible for countless human deaths and diseases since time immemorial.

        Like

      • I am not only smiling, I am barely holding in gales of laughter at your unique linguistic ability; it is amusing, witty and extremley lovable

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dear mosquitos from the family of nematocerid flies, the Culicidae,

        SoundEagle commands herewith that you change from a diehard disease vector to a born-again zoonosis agent capable of sucking, stinging, curing and inoculating those human beings who are “withaddicts” and “withmongers”. It will be easy to identify them as their bloods have the olfactory remnants, auditory ripples and lingo-chemical signatures of lisping, obligatory preposition.

        Now, depart in swamps and bite them in droves. Mosquitos disobeying SoundEagle‘s command will be marked for extermination by bats of the order Chiroptera.

        Like

    • Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

      MARK TWAIN

      Liked by 1 person

  4. With trepidation, I go forthwith to weigh in on this. If I could banish a word it would be “whatever” every one seems to use whatever with or without any concern to how it is embossed into the walls of our memories as by who and when we were affronted with it.
    I could have done this response without “with” but with it, it was far more fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! You have chosen a good word with which to pick issue here. The word “whatever” also often leaves one the disconcerting sense of being shown the indifference, rejection, defiance, denunciation, flippancy and/or perfunctoriness of the speaker.

      Thank you for your visit, participation and comment, eightdecades.

      Like

  5. […] Use WITH Caution Or Not At All (soundeagle.wordpress.com) […]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Vivir, que no es poco and commented:
    A very useful post to write better

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this post. English is not my first language and I learned a lot about how to use the word “with”. The study of two text with and without the word is so clear! So again, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know it’s an accepted word in our language now but I hate “gotten” – it’s lazy and boring and I grind my teeth every time I read or hear it….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your poor enamel! It is therefore deserving that “gotten” should rhyme so perfectly with “rotten” ― there is no pun intended here, for it is not to imply tooth decay, but to signify the teeth-grating, jaw-gnawing punchiness of your word-cum-dental nemesis, a foul foe with a truly possessive nature and hate-inducing quality.

      Like

  9. Hi SoundEagle, thanks for your tips about the inappropriate use of “with”—they are really useful. As discussed, in my view a couple of your examples might sound more natural/correct like this:

    Yours: “In view of Charlie Brown’s watch shown to be passing five o’clock…”
    My suggestion: “In view of the fact that it was past five o’clock by / according to CB’s watch…”

    or this one—

    Yours: “Though the rain barely stops after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.”
    My suggestion: “Though the rain has barely stopped after a heavy pour, W flies impatiently out of the window.”

    Which do you prefer?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. And the relationship between the two clauses in this sentence is unclear, it doesn’t make sense: “The rain barely stops after a heavy pour, Woodstock flying impatiently out of the window.”

    What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The irony of the ungainly deployment of the word “with” in the sentence “The rain barely stops after a heavy pour, with Woodstock flying impatiently out of the window.” is that the preposition could and should have been entirely omitted, thus forming a satisfactory absolute participle construction.

      Whether “with” is present or not, the relationship of the two clauses is quite clearly established by the order in which the clauses appear, and is further enhanced by the two adverbs “barely” and “impatiently”, as is the case of “The rain barely stopping after a heavy pour, Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.”

      Alternatively, a conjuction can be used. As the correction “The rain barely stops after a heavy pour, and Woodstock flies impatiently out of the window.” illustrates, the awkward practice of using “with” to add information whilst avoiding the natural conjuction “and” is quite common.

      Like

  11. Oh, and words for “parts of the body” and “bodily functions” (no matter what they are) don’t bother me at all, whether they describe the parts or what they are used for. The same set of sounds (vowels and consonants) could mean another thing altogether in different language anyway!!! As a result, all words for female genitals (whether scientific, colloquial or slang) are fine by me, as are words for anyone’s genitals for that matter. What’s the big deal?

    Our “feelings” about words are a result of the associations that we make because of our mindset and experiences (and it’s not the word’s fault!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi SeaTurtle, your comment here should have been a reply to norcalfreelancewritersbloggerscomment here.

      It should of course make good sense that the word is not to be blamed; if something had to be blamed then let it be the user(s) of the word. Moreover, it is not so much what the sound of a particular word that stands for something can be or may change from one language, region or (sub)culture to the next, as what meaning(s) it can convey or may encompass within one language, region or (sub)culture. As far as SoundEagle can ascertain from that comment, norcalfreelancewritersbloggers is disgusted or annoyed by certain denotations and/or connotations of the C word. Given the brevity of the comment, it is uncertain as to whether there are any overtly sexist, derogatory, censorious and/or sanctimonious overtones. In any case, it is understandable that peoples in various cultures and societies often have strong reactions or taboos against certain words (especially as/in expletives and invectives) according to, or as a result of, their social morays and cultural values as well as media influences, outlooks, proprieties and etiquettes.

      Like

  12. Jolly well said. I do like a bit of pugilistic passion concerning the pitfalls of language. When I was a teacher (I retired eighteen months ago – thank God!), I used to rant on a regular basis about such matters. To no avail, I hasten to add. It was like banging my cranium against the wall of a large dunny.
    In response to comments on the word ‘cunt’, it has become part of the whole giggle-wriggly, tittering taboo, sex is dirty, genitals dirtier way of thinking, hasn’t it? As a word, it is just a collection of letters and a sound, but we have invested it – as only we can – with such layers of repulsive meaning that it has become almost a linguistic AntiChrist in its own right.
    A more enlightened look at sex, language and language relating to sex would, I feel, be of benefit to our society as a whole.
    Banish the naughty, sinful connotations – and let words alone; let them breathe and be themselves!
    Alienora

    Liked by 1 person

  13. […] Use WITH Caution Or Not At All 📝📜 (soundeagle.wordpress.com) […]

    Like

  14. I would not ban I word I would ban the improper phrase ” I seen” no it is I SAW!!!!!!!!!! Oooooh that one gets my goat

    Liked by 1 person

  15. […] ⚠️ Use WITH Caution Or Not At All 📝📜 (soundeagle.wordpress.com) […]

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  16. […] ⚠️ Use WITH Caution Or Not At All 📝📜 (soundeagle.wordpress.com) […]

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  17. Soundeagle, I am “with” you on this. Of course. To celebrate, come “with” me to the Ice Cream Shop to be “with” our friends and get a banana split “with” all the toppings. Join, among, included. A multi-faceted word “with” nuance. Keith😎

    Liked by 2 people

  18. With all due respect (see what I did there?), I must disagree. One of the characteristics of the English language which makes it so versatile is the myriad of ways it provides to convey any thought. Use of the word “with” is one of those ways. Your essay is an effective, educational, and entertaining exposition of both the misuse and overuse of the word. I don’t, however, see it as a compelling case for the banishment of “with”. My first sentence here could have been “Imparting all due respect”. I don’t believe that would have improved it. It would only have made it sound pretentious. By the same token, I felt that some of your examples strained for an alternative to the word, with varying success.
    As an author, I struggle with overuse and repetition of words. Much of my editing involves searching for alternate words or phrasings. As evidenced by the final sentences of my reply, “with” has its uses, usually benign.

    PS: I spent more time editing this reply than I have any other. Possibly I am intimidated by your acumen?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear David

      Welcome! SoundEagle🦅 is delighted by your very first visit and commendable comment submitted here upon digesting a detailed exposition on the use of with as a preposition in English. This post has been created as a response to one of the many WordPress community creative writing daily prompts called No, Thank You, which has given you the impression that SoundEagle🦅 is insistent on banning altogether the use of with, for the prompt has indeed been worded by the WordPress writing prompt team as follows:

      No, Thank You

      If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?

      Nevertheless, the examples provided by SoundEagle🦅 demonstrate the various types of error in contemporary usage of with, which are accompanied by their corresponding corrections. That “[you] felt that some of [SoundEagle🦅’s] examples strained for an alternative to the word” is quite understandable, since these errors have become so ubiquitous that many folks are not even aware that the usage is actually awkward and problematic, and on the odd chance that they encounter the correct usage of with, or better still, some alternative to with, they tend to find it to be strange, unnatural or even wrong.

      Please be informed that “With all due respect” happens to be an idiom that functions as an adverbial phrase, which can be placed at the front of a sentence and punctuated by a comma. Other examples of adverbial phrase are “Hopefully”, “Surprisingly” and “Unfortunately”, just to name a few. Grammarist has the following revelations about the idiom:

      With all due respect is an adverb phrase used to signal that you are about [to] disagree with someone or criticize them. Usually, with all due respect is intended to soften the effect of disagreeing or criticizing someone. It is a polite idiom that is intended to show esteem for the individual while still pointing out his wrong-thinking.

      With all due respect has become an overused phrase, it is now often used sarcastically to mean the exact opposite of what it states. Political debaters and others may preface a rebuttal to an argument with, with all due respect. In this case, a subtle disrespect is intended.

      In Britain, the phrase with all due respect is often shortened to the phrase, with respect.

      In 2008, the Oxford dictionary compiled a list of the most irritating phrases in the English language, the phrase with all due respect came in as the fifth most irritating phrase in the English language. Perhaps because of its changing function from a phrase meant to mitigate hard feelings to a phrase that allows a subtle disrespect, cloaked in courtesy.

      Examples

      He said, “With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to redefine it.” (The Lacrosse Tribune)

      With all due respect to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US isn’t going to be attacking Iran anytime soon, especially after negotiations over its nuclear program. (The Jerusalem Post)

      Brady’s agent, Don Yee, said on Thursday morning that the report “with all due respect, is a significant and terrible disappointment.” (The Wall Street Journal)

      SoundEagle🦅 has also prepared some comprehensive, systematic and beneficial tools to assist all and sundry in their journey and endeavour to become a better artist, blogger and writer. Click one or more of the following to enjoy them:

      Yours sincerely,Rose Greeting
      ჱܓSoundEagle🦅

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow, you’re even more of a “grammar grouchy” than I am!

    You anticipate that some may find certain of your examples tendentious, and as ever, you are right. Personally I bear no animus towards any particular use of “with.” It can invite sloppy expression, which can lead to sloppy thinking. My current beef would be with “impact” as a verb, but the targets of my exasperation change from year to year, and decade to decade.

    In response to one of your comments at my own blog, I referred to George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” as an excellent discussion of degenerate usage.

    In that post you caught an accidentally repeated word; thanks again. To return the favour, “wranggled” above has one “g” too many.

    Liked by 2 people

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