Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2016 Fund Drive.

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Usage of 'with' without an object
Question: Recently I've noticed (in published fiction no less) sentences like this: ''She asked him if he wanted to come with.'' No, not a typo, just ''come with''. This is not a character's speech but the narrator using this. Is this a regional usage? When did this start becoming accepted usage that passes muster with an editor? Thank you!
Reply: Looking at this issue from the point of view of a historical grammarian, I would say that in a sentence like `She asked him if he wanted to come with', `with' isn't really a preposition (which would -- normally -- require an object) but a (post-)verbal particle (where the verb *as a whole* *may* require an object *if it's transitive*). Verbal particles are endemic in the Indo-European languages. *Traditionally* (meaning, over *most* of the past 3000 years or so), the particles are *prefixed* to the verb; an example in English would be a verb like `understand'. But, during the past 2-3 centuries, we're beginning to get verbs with postposed particles (in English, always written as though they were separate words): `come in', `sit down', `put up with'. English is been one of the leading languages in this change. In the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, it says `the number of multi-word verbs in the language has grown remarkably, especially in the [20th] century, and they constitute one of the most distinctive features of English syntax.' The example you offer is just `more of the same', from this point of view.
Reply From: Steven Schaufele      click here to access email
 
Date: 06-Dec-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Usage of 'with' without an object    Susan D Fischer     (05-Dec-2013)
  2. Re: Usage of 'with' without an object    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (05-Dec-2013)

Back to Most Recent Questions