5 Ways to Work Your Way Around the Weak “With”
The preposition with is one of the workhorses of the English language, performing multiple functions, but it’s not a very powerful beast of burden. Writers often put it to work at the wrong task, employing it to link one phrase or another when a stronger word or phrase, or a form of punctuation, is much more structurally sound. Here are five examples of sentences better expressed without with:
1. “Requirements concerning the marital status of adopting couples are not uniform, with a stable relationship being required in most cases.”
Omit with, split the sentence into two, and add, to signal contrast, the conjunction however: “Requirements concerning the marital status of adopting couples are not uniform. A stable relationship, however, is required in most cases.
2. “Governance by committee is the norm, with 67 percent of large companies having committees of senior business leaders that oversee and prioritize information-technology investments.”
If what follows with is a definition or expansion, use a colon in its place: “Governance by committee is the norm: 67 percent of large companies have committees of senior business leaders that oversee and prioritize information-technology investments.”
3. “The debate largely focused on the wisdom of the Iraq invasion with Kerry attacking Bush’s decisions and Bush accusing Kerry of shifting views.”
As is, this sentence is clumsily breathless, but rather than simply inserting a missing comma after invasion, try a semicolon instead and delete with: “The debate largely focused on the wisdom of the Iraq invasion; Kerry attacked Bush’s decisions, and Bush accused Kerry of shifting views.”
4. “Each year, more than 1 million children are poisoned in their own homes, with thousands receiving permanent or chronic injuries.”
Make the sentence a simple compound by replacing with with and, and alter the following subject and verb as necessary: “Each year, more than 1 million children are poisoned in their own homes, and thousands of them receive permanent or chronic injuries.”
5. “Most Fortune 500 companies have hundreds of incidents per year, with only a small percentage of those incidents resulting in significant financial loss.”
Select, in place of with, another conjunction that is appropriate for the context, and change the form of the subsequent verb: “Most Fortune 500 companies have hundreds of incidents per year, although only a small percentage of those incidents result in significant financial loss.”
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