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Does the verb "provide" always have to be used with "with"? For example,

Can you provide me with some good examples?

Can you provide me some good examples?

Can you provide some good examples?

I suppose it's a transitive verb, isn't it?

Moreover, is the following type of usage correct?

You should provide food for your dog before you go on vacation.

If you could give me some good examples regarding "provide" with different types of usage, I'd appreciate that.

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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There is a British/American difference here. The verb provide takes two objects, and they can go in either order. The second one usually takes a preposition, and the first one never does. The preposition depends on the order.

Can you provide some good examples for me.
Can you provide me with some good examples.

You should provide food for your dog before you go on vacation.
You should provide your dog with food before you go on vacation.

Americans do sometimes use two objects without prepositions if the "for" object is first and the "with" object second:

You should provide your dog exercise on a regular basis.

Wikipedia says this is not allowed in British English.

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Excellent research. Never trust them American dictionaries, even if they come from Oxford! –  Cerberus Dec 10 '11 at 15:51
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Provide can be either transitive or intransitive.
All of your sentences above appear correct (as provide can take both a direct and an indirect object, and the "with" may be implied, as in your 2nd sentence).

1 [ trans. ] make available for use; supply : these clubs provide a much appreciated service for this area.
• ( provide someone with) equip or supply someone with (something useful or necessary) : we were provided with a map of the area.
• present or yield (something useful) : neither will provide answers to these problems.

2 [ intrans. ] ( provide for) make adequate preparation for (a possible event) : new qualifications must provide for changes in technology.
• supply sufficient money to ensure the maintenance of (someone) : Emma was handsomely provided for in Frank's will.
• (of a law) enable or allow (something to be done).

3 [with clause ] stipulate in a will or other legal document : the order should be varied to provide that there would be no contact with the father.

4 ( provide someone to) historical Christian Church appoint an incumbent to (a benefice).

source: NOAD

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Do you real feel the second sentence sounds right: Can you provide me some good examples? — It somehow sounds a bit awkward. I'd say either "can you provide some good examples?" or "can you give me some good examples?". –  Cerberus Mar 28 '11 at 14:11
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@Cerberus I agree that it sounds a bit awkward and that give might be a better word choice, but I'm still pretty sure it is grammatically correct. –  snumpy Mar 28 '11 at 14:19
    
Fair enough. I think I'd rephrase it regardless. –  Cerberus Mar 28 '11 at 14:29
    
@Cerberus: I just found a Wikipedia page that says "Can you provide me some good examples" is grammatical in American but not British English. I've posted another answer with this information. –  Peter Shor Dec 10 '11 at 15:46
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Regarding historical usage, it seems that “provide with” started to be used around 1750. A couple of Google ngram searches provided for the date it started being used. I was tipped off by the fact that, while King James’ Bible (1611) doesn't use it as a transitive verb, newer translations do.

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"transitive" is the wrong word here, as Shakespeare's usage (which is the American usage the OP is asking about) was doubly transitive, and the current British usage is only singly transitive, but I think you're right: Google Ngram. –  Peter Shor Mar 6 '13 at 17:10
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Other uses of provide could be:

I told my girlfriend I could provide for her.
I can provide for you.
Can you provide an answer?

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