"with" or without

Someone has just sent me a message and wants to know if this sentence is correct: “I feed the cat with some milk.” One of her colleagues said the preposition “with” should be dropped. This friend of mine argued that having “with” in the sentence is acceptable.

Well, “with” could be used if it is followed by an eating utensil or food. That means, these examples are correct:

  • Foreigners find it strange that some Chinese in Malaysia eat with their fingers. (√)
  • The little boy fed the chick with a syringe. (√)
  • I had rice with curry and some meat. (√)

It is therefore incorrect to say:

  • They fed the boy with fried chicken. (X)
  • My neighbour feeds his chickens with corn each morning. (X)
  • Did you feed the baby with milk though you know he’s allergic to it? (X)

The general rules are as follows

  • [someone] feeds [person/animal] [food]
  • [someone] eats [food] with/and [food]
  •  [someone] eats [food] with [an eating tool/fingers]

I believe there are some exceptions. Care to add? 🙂

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Posted on May 3, 2010, in Grammar and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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