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What's the difference between these two expressions:

  1. Mike brought his guitar.

  2. Mike brought his guitar with him.

How does "with him" change the meaning of the sentence?

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I'm asking this for my student who is studying English as a second language, so this is more of a linguistics question. It is hard for me to explain to a foreigner what exactly the "with him" is doing. –  Joshua Robison Feb 26 '11 at 17:16
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

'With him' may be used to emphasize 'at the moment'. E.g. 'Does he have his guitar?' May be interpreted more ambiguously than 'Does he have his guitar with him?'.

When using 'brought', the assumption that it is 'with him' is a pretty safe one to make, but occasionally people will automatically add the redundant 'with him' without realizing it's unnecessary.

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Oddly enough, I would interpret the "with him" version as less specific: if Mike is in a foreign city, saying "he has his guitar" implies it's in or near his hand, while "he has his guitar with him" could mean the instrument is up in his hotel room. –  Marthaª Feb 27 '11 at 18:36
    
LOL! Why his hand? Such assumptions can be very dangerous... "Look out! He's got his guitar!", now that implies it's in his hand! And possibly holding it over his head by its neck... Of course given such preconditions like being in a hotel in a foreign city, context often changes meaning or interpretation. –  Lee Kowalkowski Feb 27 '11 at 21:22
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Listen, the thing is, people, like, often decorate their speech with, like, meaningless, er, decorations. Innit. Know what I mean?

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It seems completely unnecessary because it is completely unnecessary. I don't think it could ever add anything useful except in the unlikely instance that there were other ways Mike could have brought his guitar and the speaker desperately needs to distinguish among them.

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