English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I understand "the marriage of X TO Y" is more common, but could it be said to be grammatically incorrect to say "the marriage of X WITH Y"? If so, why?

share|improve this question
I'd be inclined to use a conjunction, rather than a preposition: The marriage of X and Y, but that might change, depending on the context. – J.R. Jun 9 '13 at 9:00

They both are prepositions, so strictly grammatically of equal worth. However there is the maxim or quantity to consider: You may get married with all your friends, but you get married to your fiancee. There is also the maxim of relevancy: You could get married with a priest, but you get married to your fiancee.

Common usage of each usually comes down to regionalisms however, though I find that "to" sounds more correct. (I am a British-English speaker/listener).

share|improve this answer
Thanks. Putting the maxims you referred to to one side for the moment, assuming that this phrase appeared on a wedding invitation to refer to the marriage of one person to/with another, would either be acceptable from a grammatical point of view? If so, would you be able to elaborate on why? – zakgottlieb Jun 9 '13 at 15:20
@zakgottlieb: as an American English speaker, it sounds odd to me to invite someone to a marriage, regardless of what preposition is used. In my lexicon, the wedding is the ceremony & party that you invite friends to; the marriage is what comes afterwards, and unless it's a very open marriage, invitations are... inappropriate. But I know British usage differs on this point. – Marthaª Jun 9 '13 at 16:16
BE does usually differ, though we do use both, usually the invitation is to "celebrate the marriage". A BE example would depend on who is doing the inviting, one of the couple's parents, or the couple themselves. Here are some examples that use "marriage" an either "to" or "and" :itsawrapweddings.co.uk/images/invitation-wording.pdf – Toby Jun 10 '13 at 8:58
@zakgottlieb to more directly answer your comment; either is equally acceptable grammatically, as is the conjunction that J.R. proposed in his comment on your OP. – Toby Jun 10 '13 at 9:06
@Toby Thank you. If there's a particular rule you could refer me to here, I'd be much obliged. Please see my comment after Fortiter's post for context. – zakgottlieb Jun 10 '13 at 12:47

Grammatically either is acceptable since both conform to the "rules". A preference for one or the other derives from the cultural connotations associated with the word marriage, not from any argument over its lexical category.

marriage with can be interpreted to imply an equality of the partners, while marriage to suggests a power imbalance. That is why J.R suggested and as a further option that carries an even greater connotation of equality.

share|improve this answer
Thank you. Is there a rule in particular you could refer me to that "the marriage of X WITH Y" conforms to? If any preposition could be used, would it be just as grammatically correct to say "the marriage of X AGAINST Y," for example, even if it is nonsensical to do so? My own instinct is to say that it doesn't break a rule of English grammar - as we're simply discussing a preposition linking two nouns - and therefore can be considered correct. – zakgottlieb Jun 10 '13 at 12:46
@zakgottlieb while prepositions may be grammatically equal, their meanings still need to be taken into account, for example "the book is above the table" is as grammatically correct as "the book is beneath the table", though of course the meaning is different. – Toby Jun 10 '13 at 18:41
However some prepositions may be synonyms such as the previous latter phrase and "the book is under the table". Obviously replacing the inanimate objects in the examples, as if we were describing a hierarchy of some sort (e.g. an office structure) and replaced "book" with "man" and "table" with "woman", there are immediate connotations other than those intended. But the grammatical correctness does not change. Just as there may be with "with", "to" or "and" for your marriage example. – Toby Jun 10 '13 at 18:45

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.