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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

ESL Student Blog: Preposition ‘by’ vs. ‘with’

Both prepositions can be used to show how something is done.
By’ can be followed by a gerund (-ing form):
 
He improved his English by reading novels.
You can change the look of that room by redecorating it.
 
By’ is followed by a noun in combinations refering to the means of transportation or communication:
 
by plane/car/bus/subway
by fax/mail/phone/sea
 
With’ is used when tools or parts of the body mentioned:
 
I opened the wine with a bottle opener.
He pushed the door with his foot.
 
Note: ‘by hand’ means ‘handmade’, ‘made by a person, not by a machine’:
 
She made the pie dough by hand.
Compare to: The mother touched the girl’s forehead with her hand.
 
Choose: ‘by’ or ‘with’:
 
1. I flipped the pancakes ___ a spatula.
2. She measured the length of the pants ___ a tape.
3. You can avoid the traffic jam ___ taking an alternate route.
4. You can change your personal information ___ logging on to your account.
5. The teacher wrote the notes ___ a marker.
6. Can you eat a soup ___ chopsticks?
7. They stopped the moving escalator ___ pushing the stop button.
8. He trapped the animal ___ forcing it into the cage.
9. She insulted Peter ___ calling him names.
10. Do you wash your dishes ___ hand?
11. She covered the eyes ___ her hand.
12. He saved the kitten ___ feeding it daily.
13. You can lose weight ___ exercising regularly.
14. She relaxes ___ listening to soothing music and taking a hot bath.
15. She combed her hair ___ a brush.
 
Answer Key:
 
1-with, 2-with, 3-by, 4-by, 5-with, 6-with, 7-by, 8-by, 9-by, 10-by, 11-with, 12-by, 13-by, 14-by, 15-with
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 10:35 PM
Comments
Friday, January 28, 2011 AT 3:48 AM
Elisha said:
But which do you choose from the following: I was delighted BY the dog I was delighted WITH the dog ?

Friday, January 28, 2011 AT 9:15 PM
Olga Galperin said:
Hi Elisha. In your example 'delighted' can be used with either 'by' or 'with' meaning that the owner was very pleased with the dog. It doesn't show the process, but rather the result. The first day of the obedience class went really well. My Golden Retriever puppy learned how to follow my commands: come to me when off leash, heel and drop objects - I was absolutely delighted by my dog! The instructor was delighted with his progress too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 AT 6:07 AM
nooon said:
Hi could you please which should choose One of the policemen was killed by a knife. or One of the policemen was killed with a knife.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 AT 11:31 PM
Olga Galperin said:
Since knife is a tool, you'd say 'with a knife'. You could also say 'he was fatally stabbed'.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 AT 12:39 PM
Frank said:
Hi, can you please clarify should it be "hit with a foul ball" or "hit by a foul ball". Thanks

Thursday, May 26, 2011 AT 12:12 AM
Olga Galperin said:
That's an interesting question, Frank. 'Hit with' and 'hit by' can depend on the context. If someone was intentionally hit with an object (e.g.: a baseball bat), you'd say 'hit with' (the object is being a tool). If someone was hit accidentally (e.g.: by a car), you'd say 'hit by'. Since getting hit by a foul ball is usually an accident, it's preferable to say 'hit by'.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 AT 11:23 PM
vincent said:
'covered by a contract' or 'covered with a contract', which one is correct?

Thursday, August 25, 2011 AT 11:48 PM
Olga Galperin said:
It's 'covered by'. Based on the rule above, 'contract' isn't a tool or 'body part'. This is not to say though that 'cover' cannot be used with 'with' - as in 'cover the bread with a clean cloth' or 'cover your nose with a tissue', in which 'a cloth' and 'a tissue' can be considered as a tool.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 AT 1:29 AM
Zack said:
hi there could you please explain which one is grammatically correct or better used in the context below speaking English fluently can be done with practice or/ by practice. the second question is... what's the difference between saying: "he will be forced with being changed" and "he will be forced by being changed'' thanks

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